Monday, February 20, 2012

On Missions: Part 2

Even when I was in college, but especially afterward, I started to see the obvious problems with the approaches mentioned in my last post. But I didn't really know what to do about it. Those techniques were all I knew.

Over time, I stopped going to the church-sponsored door-knocking campaigns. By this time, I was the pianist of the church I was attending, which is a somewhat high-profile position, although not as high-profile as a paid staff position. One of the rules of the church was that any ministerial position, volunteer or otherwise, was supposed to be visibly (yes, they specified "visibly") involved with these weekly campaigns. I was able to "slack off" by claiming busyness, etc., but I still had to put in my token effort every couple of months, to keep anyone from getting suspicious.

(Let me clarify something here: I wasn't actively trying to deceive or anything. I just couldn't bring myself to actively go do something that I no longer believed in. But I didn't have anything to replace it, missiologically, so while I was figuring it out I "kept face" in the system. In retrospect, this probably wasn't the way to go about things, but you know how hindsight is, right?)

What I did know (and still maintain) is that every individual Christian is called to be a light in the world. This is popularly referred to (and pejoratively so in my former religious realm) as "lifestyle evangelism". Even while I was struggling with the public church soul-winning program, as described above, I was endeavoring to do "lifestyle evangelism".

Naturally, when I finally left those circles, and joined the Orthodox Church, some of my close friends, in attempting to understand/bring me back, brought up the question of evangelism. Of course, I hadn't really learned, yet, what the Orthodox missionary ethos looks like (I knew it exists), so the conversation went something like this:

Them:
Do they do soul-winning?
Me:
Uhh....no.
Them (summarized):
They must not be Christian! Don't they believe the Bible? What about Matthew 28:18-20?!!!
Me:
Erm....well, the Church does evangelize, but not like that.
Them:
But...that's the way that works! If not that, then what do they do?

Of course, at that point, the only thing I knew we Orthodox do was lifestyle evangelism, so that's what I said. I also knew we had missionaries, but I had no clue what they do, so I was not able to give an answer on this. Naturally, this caused at least one of my friends to write me off as a heretic, or at least a lazy back-slider, and another to look at me rather askance. I could almost see what little interest in Orthodoxy there may have been drain from their being, to be replaced by no small amount of animosity toward it.

This was, of course, unfortunate, and I pray that the Lord will not hold it against them in the day of judgment, on account of my own failing. On the other hand, it is my intent with these posts to correct my mistake.

(Here's part 3: http://ps27-4.blogspot.com/2012/02/on-missions-part-3.html)

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