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Tuesday, July 04, 2006 

A Great Article On Evangelism By Julie Martinez

A member of the priestly caste pointed out this great article by Julie Martinez at the Alliance of Evangelical Lutheran Laypeople site. Since permission is given to reproduce the article as long as no changes are made, I thought I would post it in it's entirety. Ms. Julie Martinez is a former member of LCMS Board of Directors. Enjoy!

Is Ablaze Evangelism?
There appears to be considerable confusion in the LC-MS today regarding Ablaze!. LC-MS World Mission insists that Ablaze! is “not a program, it’s a movement.” Yet its stated goal is bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to 100 million people by 2017. There is even a scoreboard on the LC-MS official website that tracks “encounters.” This certainly sounds like evangelism, and indeed, most people think “evangelism program” when they hear Ablaze!.
Those who question the actual theology or methods of Ablaze! are labeled, erroneously, as being anti-evangelism. Let us look at the question “Is Ablaze! evangelism?” by first discussing what evangelism really is.
True evangelism is grounded on the Scriptural teaching that stony and unbelieving hearts are changed into hearts of faith in only one way; through the Means of Grace, Word, and Sacrament (Isaiah 55:11, Matthew 28:19-20).
Simply put, evangelism is leading people to the Means of Grace. This can be done in many ways, but one of the simplest and most effective is for a Christian to share his faith with someone in the context of an existing relationship, where trust and respect have already been established.
Ours is one of the most challenging times in the history of Christianity; for the prevailing thought in our culture today is that all things are subjective, and there is therefore no such thing as absolute truth, or sin. For someone who doesn’t believe in sin, there is no need for a Redeemer from sin. People in this culture need to hear both law and gospel; first the law, to be convicted of their sin so that they can see the need for a Redeemer, and then the good news, that Christ is that Redeemer who forgives their sins.
This is not a message that can usually be delivered once and forgotten, but for the most part requires ongoing discussion in the context of relationships found in our various vocations. However, the place where the Means of Grace is truly found, and where we want to lead our friends, is to the local congregation; where the Word is proclaimed in its truth and purity and the Sacraments practiced in accord with Christ’s institution.
Contrast this view with how Ablaze! DVD defines a “critical event,” as any one-time encounter where the Word of God is shared on a one-to-one basis, regardless of the response. In fact, it is exactly this one-time “event” that they have decided to “count” on the scoreboard as they diligently strive to attain 100 million contacts. The DVD states that Christians in India have “committed” to 25 million “critical events,” ostensibly leaving only 75 million for the rest of us. The numbers appear to be a goal unto itself. Indeed, anyone can report his own “critical events” on the website to add to the scoreboard total.
One of the glaring problems with this approach is that the one-time “critical event” becomes a goal in and of itself, and the importance of the on-going faithful proclamation of the Word, as well as the Sacraments, is tragically diminished.
While the Synod is raising funds, marketing Ablaze! Salsa, T-shirts, and sending teenagers and senior citizens to foreign countries, where they neither speak the language nor have any personal relationships; let us not forget our neighbor, and our conversations over the garden fence, or in the school cafeteria. I pray that God will continue to give us opportunities through our vocations to quietly invite our friends, family, and neighbors to hear the Word through His divinely instituted Means of Grace; and share the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ with a world that does not yet know Him.
This article written by Julie Martinez, Pagosa Springs, CO
Permission to reproduce is granted ONLY without changes.

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