strategy

Evangelizing

Synonyms:
Winning souls
Saving souls
Soul winning
Soul saving
Religious proselytizing
Description:
[Christianity] What the term basically meant from the beginning of Christianity, the communication of the oral good news or Gospel, has increasingly come to mean the process of leading a person to make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ using the Bible and all other aids.
Context:
[Christianity] The word "evangelical" comes from the Greek word "euangelion," which means "Good News," or "Gospel." To the evangelical, the Gospel is summed up in the words of I Corinthians 15:3-4: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that hew as buried and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." Briefly stated, an evangelical is a Christian who believes, lives and wants to share this message.

According to the Christian tradition, souls have become separated from God through sin. Instead of eternal life in the bliss of God's presence and love they have become subject to judgement and death, many referring to this as being in the power of the Devil who has dominion over those who are in a state of sin. Because God still loves all people, despite their sinful nature, he took upon himself the punishment that was their due and paid the price for their sin through the sacrificial death of God in the person of His son Jesus Christ. Death and the Devil cannot have dominion over God and through the resurrection of Christ all who believe in Him and accept His sacrifice are saved as though they were indeed as sinless as Christ himself. It is the responsibility of every Christian to make known to others the possibility of their being saved from death through belief in Christ. It is clear that we are each responsible for assisting in the saving of the souls of those around us and the apparently exclusive stance of Christianity is in fact a manifestation of the love which Christians feel for their brothers and sisters who have not heard the Gospel - or "good news" - and the desire to assist in saving their souls. Unlike Cain who, to cover up his own sinfulness in murdering his brother, said "Am I my brother's keeper ?" the Christian says "I am my brother's keeper". Christ's last instruction to His followers was to "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew XXVIII 19-20). Indeed, failure to attempt to save the souls of one's neighbours puts responsibility for their state at one's own door (St Paul).

Most recently, the revivalist tradition has been a strong emotional prosetylizer. Most often the audience has been the socially alienated poor and less educated masses. Modern sales methods within a highly organized campaign are used to present a simple, personal and pious religious message. The more institutional forms of evangelism focus on mass communication methods ([eg] television and mail order) and experiments in dialogue. Corporate Bible study and group dynamics are being tried. This approach is directed to social responsibility in addition to personal commitment. There are a series of steps recognized by evangelical institutions: (1) cultivating potential converts; (2) eliciting a commitment to Christ; (3) introducing the Christian way of life and enrolling in Church membership; and (4) assimilating into the Christian community.

Implementation:
Evangelism is practised in Christianity, Islam and a number of new religions. [Christianity] One means of saving souls is through mass evangelism. Right from the coming of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts II) some Christians having been given the gift of speaking God's word in a way that convinces crowds of people "en masse". Immediately after the coming of the Holy Spirit, St Peter (an uneducated and previously frightened man) could address a massive crowd and convert about 3,000 of them to become followers of Christ. An example in the 20th century is Billy Graham, who has converted many thousands through mass gatherings where people almost in spite of themselves feel called upon to accept Christ. These sudden conversions are many of them completely permanent and one can meet convinced Christians who say "Oh, yes, I came to Christ at a Billy Graham meeting 30 years ago". The aim is to break down the defences of stubbornness, fear and pride which the individual has built up throughout life and to let the love of God flow in. Sometimes the change is so radical and can truly be referred to as being "born again". In the USA, a growing Christian men's movement called Promise Keepers has made saving souls in mass a masculine pursuit. In May 1995, the group had already sold out tickets to seven of its thirteen events for the year, expecting to draw half a million men to the stadium-sized events. For instance, 52,000 men packed RFK stadium in Washington D.C. to share in preaching, praying and hymn singing for over 13 hours.

But not all soul-saving techniques require great crowds, atmosphere and the assistance of the media. Small meetings at local churches, "guest services", home study groups, all can be used as evangelistic means. Even casual conversations at a bus stop, in a railway carriage, at a dinner party have been known to be the turning point in people's lives and Christians are encouraged, despite a natural shrinking, not to miss such opportunities to pass on the gospel message. Nor is the single occasion always all that is necessary. Even the most sudden conversion comes in a ground that may well have been unobtrusively prepared by a number of circumstances, so that what one person sows with no immediate result another may reap at a later date.

Claim:
1. As Paul VI wrote, "evangelization is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize".Evangelization is an all-embracing, progressive activity through which the Church participates in the prophetic, priestly and royal mission of the Lord Jesus. It is therefore inextricably linked to preaching, celebration and the service of charity. Evangelization is a profoundly ecclesial act, which calls all the various workers of the Gospel to action, according to their individual charisms and ministry. (Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).

2. We earnestly exhort you, therefore, to labor with all solicitude for the salvation of those whom Providence has entrusted to your care, closely united to the Redeemer with whose strength we can do all things. How ardently We desire, O beloved sons, that you emulate those saints who in past times, by their great deeds, have shown what the might of Divine Grace can do in this world. May you one and all, in humility and sincerity, always be able to attribute to yourselves -- with your spiritual charges as witnesses -- the words of the Apostle, "But I will most gladly for my part, spend and be spent myself for your souls". Enlighten the minds, guide the consciences, comfort and sustain the souls who are struggling with doubt and groaning with sorrow. To these forms of apostolate, add also all those others which the needs of the times demand. But let it always be clear to everybody that the priest in all his activities seeks nothing beyond the good of souls, and looks toward no one but Christ to Whom he consecrates his energies and his whole self. (Papal Writings, Menti Nostrae, 23 September 1960).

Counter Claim:
To preach the Gospel of personal salvation without providing a social Gospel is to delay the coming of the City of God.
Values:
Work
Overwork
Subjects:
Safety
Religion
Missions
Evangelism
Consciousness
Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies