Thinking Aloud: Street Outreach
In thinking about the street outreach (and other forms of evangelism) I’m involved in, I often feel rather uncomfortable. For, despite the best efforts of all involved, our outreach can have the appearance of being somewhat confrontational with the potential for misunderstanding.
I am writing this a few days after the final edit of writing the CMJ evangelism training course Putting People on the Moon. In thinking about street outreach, and other forms of evangelism I’m involved in, I often feel rather uncomfortable. For, despite the best efforts of all involved, our outreach can have the appearance of being somewhat confrontational with the potential for misunderstanding. Many forms of evangelism can take me far beyond my own “respectable comfort zone”. I think this is probably good for me, but like most things which are good for me, they are not easy to put into practice.
Why then am I involved in a ministry seeking to share the Gospel with Jewish people, and what motivates and sustains me in evangelistic work?
Well, I am inspired, encouraged and convinced by the following truths:
- Effective Jewish evangelism is the “litmus test” for the uniqueness, all sufficiency and exclusivity of the Gospel. For example, the uniqueness of Christ as outlined in Hebrews 1, shows that the person and work of Christ is the foundation of all things. Yes, Israel has a rich and glorious past, based on God’s gracious on-going election, yet her future depends not on her own identity or election, but on her response to Jesus Christ the unique God/Man and His atoning work.
- The Church I love and in which I seek to live and serve, cannot be understood simply as the called out (ekklesia) community of God’s people in the world, but must also be known as the grafted in community of God’s people. My love for the body of Christ calls and equips me to love Israel and the Jewish people.
- I believe a true encounter with Jesus Christ is good news for all people. His truth, beauty and grace can transform every individual and context.
- My understanding of what it means to love must include permission to share key truths with others, even if this causes disagreement and confrontation. I take some comfort in this from the rich Jewish Talmudic tradition which celebrates the fact that if you love someone you are prepared to argue with them. It’s OK to disagree and debate.
In all of this evangelistic work I know I will often be taken beyond my cultural and self-imposed comfort zones. If your support of CMJ and other Christian work (especially in an evangelistic context) stretches you beyond your own comfort zones, take heart you are probably going in the right direction and you are certainly not alone – in more senses than one!
Happy doing and stretching! Alex