The curse of “something else”

What is the curse of  “something else”?   The curse of “something else” is the belief that who you are and what you do is not enough.

How do you know if you have it?  You are miserable.  You never feel “good enough”.  You seek after the “something else” that can fix it.

The curse of something else can afflict any area of our lives.  In this article, I’m interested in how it afflicts our evangelism.  I think that our evangelism suffers under the curse of “something else”.

This is my definition of evangelism Evangelism is bearing witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God and inviting others to enter in.  It flows naturally out of a transformed life.  It is an act of service whereby you offer your life experience to others for their edification.

I bet when you think about evangelism, you believe that who you are and what you do is not enough.  I bet you think you should be doing something else, something more, something different.  I also bet when you think of evangelism, you feel miserable.  It’s not something you want to do.  Or, it is something you think you should do and are searching after a new method that fits you (i.e. something else).   These are sure symptoms of the curse of “something else”.

Programs like “Evangelism Explosion” and handing out gospel tracts introduced us to this misery.   I know many people have come to saving faith in Jesus through these and other methods. Yet I believe that the unintended consequence of these programs is less evangelism, not more.

We need to consider the unintended lesson taught through these methods . The unintended message is that sharing Jesus requires “something else”.  It requires knocking on a stranger’s door.  It requires asking people questions like “If you died today do you know where you would spend eternity?”.  It requires leading people through the 4 Spiritual Laws.  It requires “closing the deal” through the  “sinner’s prayer”.  [I was taught to ask, “Is there any reason why you don’t want to become a Christian right now?”  Incidentally, it was the same question I was taught to ask when I sold cars.]  

When those methods came to define evangelism, those who were uncomfortable with those methods (and others like them) decided evangelism wasn’t for them.  The lesson learned is that evangelism doesn’t flow naturally out of a life of faith lived well in public.  Rather, evangelism is a set of methods quite disconnected from that which you normally and naturally do.

Next week, I’ll explore a different approach to bearing witness based on a way of being.  It is not a new technique.   Rather, it is a call to come out of hiding and an invitation to offer your life for the good of others.

[Note: this article first appeared in the April 7 edition of The Weekly, the weekly newsletter of Metamora Mennonite Church]

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3 thoughts on “The curse of “something else”

  1. I can probably guess on that “witness based on a way of being”… I mean, after all, isn’t that what Jesus did? 😉

    Good write up! And, since you’re connected to Northern Seminary, I’m assuming there’s a little “infection” of Scot McKnight’s “King Jesus Gospel” in this as he separates “gospel” from the “Plan of Salvation”…

    1. I’ve read King Jesus Gospel, but I got to Northern before Scot. But, yes, his distinction between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of soteriology is spot on. I’ve met Scot, as he dropped into my last class on a number of occasions, but I don’t think I will study with him. I do lean more towards giving credit to Yoder (and, of course, Jesus). I’m also curious about the church in Acts and the effect of living out the faith well in public and the imperative to knock down the dividing walls that kept people out, instead of defending the walls to keep people out. Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability is also swimming around in my head. If you haven’t seen her TED talk or read any of her work, I recommend it.

      1. I’ll have to investigate some Brown stuff… but yeah, as I’m reading through Scot’s work, I hear the whisper of Yoder behind the scenes… Scot doesn’t identify with the Neo-Anabaptists necessarily… but he sounds an AWFUL lot like Yoder, sometimes…

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