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“I offered them Christ”

That was how Wesley and Whitfield would describe their evangelistic efforts.  Sounds so simple: just offer them Christ.

And it's so joyous too.  Nothing brings home to me the graciousness of my Lord as much as offering Him to others.  The availability of Jesus is so tangible when you just lift Him up before people and say "Want Him?  He's yours."

But it's so easy to fall short of it.

Here's how:

* We offer them "cool" not Christ

We spend our time reassuring people that they don't have to be a geek to be a Christian.  Christians can be trendy too.

* We offer them "credibility" not Christ

We spend all our time reassuring people that they don't need to be brainless to be a Christian.  Christians can be clever too.

* We offer them a creed not Christ.

Creeds are essential, I'm not suggesting we can divorce the personal from the propositional.  But teaching people 6 doctrines is not offering them Christ.

* We offer them a course not Christ.

Courses are brilliant, I've seen many people become Christians on things like Christianity Explored.  But offering a course is not offering them Christ.

Now, good evangelism might have all sorts of apt cultural references and thoughtful critiques of modern assumptions. It will certainly convey creedal truths and if it's followed by courses where Christ is also offered - that is an excellent thing.

But whatever else happens, it ought to offer Christ, oughtn't it?  Shouldn't it placard the Person and work of Jesus and ask "Will you receive Him?"

Here's some reasons I think we don't.  (And I genuinely say "we" - I fail at this all the time.)

1. We think cool, credibility, creeds and courses are more attractive than Jesus. Of course we'd never say that.  We'd rarely dare to articulate the thought.  But I wonder whether it's there.

2. We imagine that the gospel is a process rather than a Person. Again, if cornered we'd swear black and blue that faith is an event and the gospel a revelation. But if our evangelism is all processes perhaps we've begun to think of the evangel itself as a process.

3. We don't honestly think people will become Christians. Allied to point number 2, we've bought into some social science view of conversion and reckon that "people are much further back these days" and "we just need to bring them on a few steps towards faith."

4.  We don't believe in the Holy Spirit. We don't actually think the power of Almighty God is unleashed when the Word is preached. So instead we trust to the resources of the flesh.

5. We refuse to be as vulnerable as the Lord we proclaim. Paul knew that a foolish message (1 Cor 1:18-25) meant a foolish people (v26-31) and a foolish messenger (2:1-5).  But we don't want to be cruciform evangelists, opening our arms to a world who will despise and belittle the word of the cross.  We want to show the world how wise and strong we are.

What do you think?

Anything to add?

11 thoughts on ““I offered them Christ”

  1. The Orange Mailman

    Hey Glen-

    Have you been listening to Jimmy Needham's music? Cuz this sounds just like one of the songs off his latest release. Check out the lyrics:

    I like, like to be liked
    And no one like to hear the truth
    And I've seen what the truth can do
    So I tried, tried to downsize
    The part of You that's hard to sell
    But the layoff didn't go so well

    Beat around the burning bush
    Till that fire went away
    God was once so palpable
    Before the shades of gray

    We might as well just fold our hands
    If we can't call a spade a spade
    Cuz we will miss the heart each time
    If we won't ever shoot them straight
    These pleasantries shadking me
    And you too long
    Let's part the clouds
    And show the world the Son

    We think, think we're helping
    By giving you a little flare
    But it doesn't matter what You wear
    Cuz runways aren't your forte
    You prefer the narrow road
    Even though it's not en vogue

    The gospel looked so very cold
    One night as I passed by
    So I gave him my best sugar coart
    And dressed it in a lie

    It's a great CD. Check it out sometime.

    Have fun and stay busy - Luke 19:13

    -The Orange Mailman

  2. Cat

    What you say is so true - we have Christ + something else to make the Gospel seem more affective. Because we dont believe that Christ is enough...

    The other thing is how we preach Christ - sometimes its so cold and unloving and dull. The puritans preached Christ that warmed hearts, but we seem to preach Christ that looks good on powerpoints and gives us a get out of hell free card.

    Have you noticed how when someone becomes a Christian they are full of joy that they know Jesus - they are the best evangelists because they speak of their first love, its pours out of them like a spring and its so affectionate, so full of passion. - Thats how we should preach Christ..

  3. John B

    To “Want Him? He’s yours.”, I'd add, "Take up your cross and follow Him!"

    And sticking with the "c"-words, our cross is one of capitulation, conviction, and conversion.

    The extra offerings you list aren't part of that cross. "Cool" and "credibility" are in opposition to it.

    I wouldn't include creed here, as it's the way that we express together as the church and body of Christ the conviction that is essential if we're to follow Him.

  4. Brian

    Sometimes the church is offered, rather than Christ.

    An actual letter from a church librarian...

    "Thank you for your email asking how to become a Christian.

    "Becoming a Christian is a process. If you do not have a lot of background or familiarity with Christian belief and practice the best way to learn more is to visit and experience life in a parish setting. Attending worship and getting a feel for the local parish community is one of the best ways to begin the process of becoming a Christian. When you are comfortable doing so I would encourage you to identify yourself to the parish priest or other members of the congregation and say that you are interested in learning more and perhaps becoming a Christian.

    "In our Christian tradition full entry into the church comes with the sacrament of baptism. If you have not been baptized then most churches offer courses of instruction and information about Christian formation that lead to baptism and full participation in the worshipping life of the community.

    "Whatever your past involvement -or lack of it -- with a Christian community I would encourage you to visit a local parish and to make contact with the clergy or congregational leadership to express your interest and to find out you might wish to proceed.

    "I have a small booklet which I would be pleased to send you if you would like some written information and background about our Church. There is no charge for this booklet and I would be glad to send it if you wish to give me a mailing address.

  5. Glen

    Hi John,

    Yes the Christ we offer is always Christ crucified. We must make clear that receiving Him is, inescapably, receiving His way also - the way of the cross. And I agree that "cool" and "credible" are in opposition to that way - they are worldly power and wisdom that empty the cross of its power.

    Hi Brian,


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  8. woldeyesus

    Without a trained disciple's know-how of securing Christ's self-revelation at his unique death on the cross, to personally baptize and to teach, one is no better than a thief who is here to "steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10).

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