A Different Approach to Evangelism

June 18, 2003

[Paganism, or Brother Sun, Sister Moon?]

An interesting thread developed over at A Cup of Rich that mentioned Pagans, Wiccans, and Celtic Christianity.

I guess my point is that even with Pagans and Wiccans, if we go in with a “we’re right and you’re wrong” attitude, they’ll never receive Jesus. How about a different approach to evangelism:

“What can I learn from you that will help me become a better Christ-follower?”

A big part of this approach is to acknowledge that following Jesus can look different in different cultures. Being missional means being a missionary, and being a missionary means learning how to incarnate the kingdom of God into a particular culture.

Yes, there are things about pagan culture that the kingdom of God opposes and must work to tear down. …But this is true of any culture, including white middle-class conservative evangelicalism. By entering a different culture, a good missionary becomes aware of his own.

At this point, I have to thank one of the best managers I ever worked for, who happens to be a practicing pagan. As we became friends, we became more and more comfortable talking about spiritual things, and occasionally joke about the stereotypes we nervously imagined about each other. He has stretched my thinking; I hope I have stretched his. My great desire in our relationship is that he could look at me and say that being a Christ-follower is not an unreasonable thing for him to consider.

The first Christ-followers were Jews. When Gentiles began following Jesus, it caused all sorts of problems. There those who insisted that if you were going to follow Jesus, you had to become Jewish. …Could Acts 15 be a pivotal story for our own time?

(I found the image by doing a search for “paganism”. Interesting. When I saw it, I was reminded of Francis of Assisi, who sang of Brother Sun and Sister Moon giving praise to God.)

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

7 responses to A Different Approach to Evangelism

  1. Uh oh
    The topic is most definitely worth thinking through; better not let the “Bible Answer apologists” see your theology flexing with your compassion.
    My perspective is that if the religions of the world see Jesus, hear His words, realize His power… they will love Him too.

  2. good topic…ta for the link…I missed it over there somehow

  3. Wow jon…[“mental backflips”]
    seems like i had to read that two or three times to understand its gravity. Now, we insist that if you are going to follow Christ, you have to become Christian. Hmmmm… Worth considering. Provocative parallel.
    thanks!

  4. Well said, Jon! Well said.
    I really don’t have much more to say on the subject other then to say, let’s go out and love people and serve for REAL. Not the kind of love that is talked about and then never done.
    Btw, thanks for plug.

  5. Sweet
    Jared is always about “understanding the gravity” of things. 🙂
    I loved this blog man. It really made me open my eyes. I mean, it was like too good for me. I feel lame for never seeing the link between Acts 15 and our status as believers now. That is too good.
    Be good

  6. “I guess my point is that even with Wiccans and other pagans, if we go in with a “we’re right and you’re wrong” attitude, they’ll never receive Jesus”
    And there is the crux of the matter. Your presumption is that we need to “recieve Jesus”. Which instantly projects a “we’re right and you’re wrong” attitude.
    Youre pagan friend could accept you as a Christian who believed in Jesus but you couldn’t accept him?
    This all being said it’s good come come accross a Christian blog that talks about and accepts paganism/wiccan without instantly thinking about
    burning in the depths of hell.
    Blessed Be
    …higgs…

  7. And there is the crux of the matter. Your presumption is that we need to “recieve Jesus”. Which instantly projects a “we’re right and you’re wrong” attitude.
    As a follower of Jesus (who made exclusive claims), yes, I do presume that we all need to receive Jesus, you and me both. It’s tricky for this not to project the attitude you describe, but that is my goal nonetheless. Actually, it’s tricky only for those like me raised in the modernist church, with all the churchy attitudes we’ve learned — a darned shame, because the attitude of Christ, which he calls us to imitate, is humility. I am fortunate to be in a church now that teaches humility as one of our highest callings.
    Youre pagan friend could accept you as a Christian who believed in Jesus but you couldn’t accept him?
    This is where the point I raised (rather obscurely) at the end comes into play. You see, in that passage in the book of Acts, the early Christians had to wrestle with the idea that you could follow Jesus and not be a Jew. I do accept my friend as he is — so much that I believe he could follow Jesus without being a “Christian”. I think that those coming from a pagan background could discover new things about following Jesus that would benefit non-pagans like me.
    This all being said it’s good come come accross a Christian blog that talks about and accepts paganism/wiccan without instantly thinking about burning in the depths of hell.
    That is a high compliment, thank you higgs!
    Blessed Be