5 Reasons We Need to Rebrand Evangelism – Part 3

In a January 13, 2012 article posted on christianpost.com, guest columnist Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries listed 5 reasons why the practice of evangelism needs to be “rebranded.”

This is the third of a 5-part series where I will examine and evaluate each of the five reasons listed.

3. The gospel is ultimately a love story, not hate speech.

God kneels in the mud to breathe into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life. The first thing Adam sees when he awakens is the smiling, muddy face of his Creator. God then performs surgery on Adam and transforms his rib into his bride. God got muddy and bloody to make Adam and Eve. Then humanity rebelled and broke God’s heart while severing the relationship. But Jesus, the lover of our souls, would not be disuaded. He got dirty again to come to this earth and be born in a food trough for smelly barn animals. He got bloody again, but this time it was his own blood, not Adam’s. Jesus died to restore the shattered relationship. This love story is one of romance (walking in the garden hand in hand in the cool of the day), break ups (getting expelled from the garden), sacrifice, surrender and, of course, the ultimate “and they lived happily ever after.”

The rebranding of evangelism needs to happen because too often Christians have communicated a “gospel” that is really no gospel at all (See Galatians 1:6-9.) It’s been more about what we are against than who is for us (Romans 8:31-38.) It’s been more about rules than the possibility of a restored relationship through faith in Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5.)

Brother Jed Smock

Every spring when I was a student at Ohio State University in the 1980s, as soon as the weather warmed up, Brother Jed Smock (http://www.brojed.org/) would show up on the Oval, and so would the skeptics.  Both were ready to do battle.

Sister Cindy Smock

Brother Jed and his wife Sister Cindy would preach messages against homosexuals, atheists, liberals, pre-marital sex, long hair, interracial dating, immodest clothing, and rock music.  The skeptics would mock and laugh, yelling out obscenities, which would invariably provoke the preachers to cry out, “Abomination!  Sinner!  Repent!”  Often, over a hundred people would surround the preachers.  A handful would actively debate and/or scream at the preachers; most just came for the show.  The spectacle would go on for a week or two, then Brother Jed would move on to another campus.  Today, Brother Jed and Sister Cindy still show up every spring.  To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever been saved as a result of listening to Brother Jed – except for Sister Cindy.

Jed Smock

To many non-Christians, when they think of evangelism, they think of people like Brother Jed and Sister Cindy Smock.  As a result, they view Christianity as a hateful religion full of bigoted idiots.

The words evangelism and Gospel derive from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, euangelion, meaning “good news” (eu- “good”, -angelion “message”).  What is this good news?  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

John 3:16 adds, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  This is the essence of the Gospel:  Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected.  Whoever trusts in Jesus will have eternal life.

Jed Smock

Is the message preached by Jed and Cindy Smock the Gospel?  Rather than focusing on the “good news” of trusting that Jesus died for our sins, and receiving forgiveness, these kinds of “evangelists” focus on the “bad news” of sin and condemnation.  Jesus said in John 3:17, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  The Greek word πραΰτητος can be translated as meekness or gentleness; the word φόβου is usually translated as fear, but can also mean respect.  Preachers like Smock do not preach with meekness and fear, but with pride and arrogance.  They do not preach the love of the Gospel of Christ, but hateful, harmful condemnation.  Paul states in Galatians 1:8, “but even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”  The so-called “gospel” of condemnation preached by Smock is a “different Gospel” than the grace and forgiveness preached by Paul and Jesus.

Evangelism

How can Christians “rebrand” evangelism?  Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about idiots like Jed and Cindy Smock, or Fred Phelps, Terry Jones, and others who preach condemnation and legalism rather than grace and forgiveness.  The best we can do is to distance ourselves as much as possible from the un-Christlike hatemongers, and preach the Gospel “with meekness and fear.”  The Gospel is ultimately God’s love story.  God created us so we could love Him.  We rejected His love (Genesis 3:16).  God sacrificed His only Son in order to provide an opportunity to restore that love relationship.  He patiently extends that love and forgiveness to each of us, knowing that same will return to Him, but others will continue to spurn Him.  Ultimately, all who choose to receive His forgiveness and love will spend eternity in His loving presence; those who reject Him will spend eternity apart from His love.  This is what evangelism is all about – telling others about God’s love story.  This is what Smock and others like him have missed.

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2 Responses

  1. 99% of the people who encounter Jed Smock pass judgment based on their first impression of his delivery, which is deliberately designed to offend and make the listener think (college kids, THINK? WoW!, what a concept!). Lets face it, if he were strumming an acoustic guitar and singing songs of Gods love would he get these kinds of crowds talking about Jesus? I think not. He speaks the truth and he does so in a spirit of love, not hate.

    http://www.brojed.org

  2. I have one thing to say is If they say something about my clothes I will tell to get the hell away from me if they don’t they are going to get punched in the face

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