Thursday, 29 December 2011
Evangelistic Fragment Three: Evangelism, Communication and the Influence Spectrum
I am suggesting that we think of evangelism as that aspect of mission that is concerned with the communication of the gospel. If we are serious about communication we will do all that we can to make sure we take appropriate responsibility for three things: the content of our message, the process of its transmission and the likelihood of its reception. This fragment is concerned with the third of these.
To seek to communicate presupposes to my mind that we are not indifferent to the response of those with whom we are seeking to communicate. It also presupposes respect for the otherness of those with whom we are seeking to communicate; communication is not the same as imposition, when we impose we abandon any attempt at genuine communication.
Since part of our motivation is to do with human flourishing (see fragment one) this raises the important question of how much we care about whether or not others receive, accept and respond to our message. Which in turn demands that we consider just how far caring about the response of others should carry us along “the influence spectrum”:
1. Self-contained indifference – no real communication takes place.
2. Presence – simply being there so that the gospel is an option should anyone perchance stumble across those seeking to live by it.
3. Availability – being there and being open so that the gospel is accessible to all who might be interested.
4. Offering – actively making the gospel known and actively making it known that it is for all.
5. Advocacy – saying why the gospel is a good thing and proposing that it be accepted.
6. Persuasion – taking active, intentional steps to encourage others to accept the gospel
7.Pressurising – deploying the force of our will to get others to respond to the gospel
8. Imposition – no real communication.
It seems to me that while positions one seven and eight are undesirable, positions two to five are necessary but in the long run inadequate if we are serious about communicating the gospel. While some may be diffident about position six I reckon that persuasion, based on and growing out of presence, availability, offering and advocacy is where its at - if we are serious about communication.