Throughout the past decades churches in the CRC have been introduced to a succession of different evangelism methods and church planting models. In the early 1970s during the "Key 73" evangelistic campaign the "Kennedy Method" of personal evangelism was very popular. Then thousands of pastors and church members were trained to use the Evangelism Explosion method; I remember using this evangelistic technique in Australia and in the Philippines. Campus Crusade came out with their Four Spiritual Laws, the Navigators with their Bridge Illustration, and the Roman Road became popular.
Have you ever spoken with a non-Christian acquaintance about the gospel? People can raise lots of questions. "How do you know the Bible is true and the Qur'an or Book of Mormon is not?" "How do you know that Jesus' resurrection is fact, not fiction?" "If Christianity is the real thing, why do so many Christians act worse than non-Christians?" "Are all the rest of us going to hell?" Non-Christians have lots of issues with the claim that Christianity is the only Truth.
In my church heritage (the Christian and Missionary Alliance and various independent Bible Churches) we often viewed the Bible as a "how to" manual for evangelism. We learned how to take someone through the Gospel of John, using key texts that outlined the "plan of salvation." We utilized the "Romans Road," which mapped out Paul's letter to the Romans in such a way that we could show someone the way to heaven. Or, if we really knew our Bibles well, we presented the gospel simply by prooftexting our way through the New Testament.
Bill came to Christ and to Hillside in one of the best ways possible—he saw the body of Christ in action. One of our members had a baby, and Bill watched as this family received meals and support from their small group at church. Bill felt a need to experience that kind of community, started attending church, made a commitment to Christ, and then joined the church and was part of a small group himself.
I could barely reach the top of his head. At 6'3" he was, without a doubt, the tallest person I had ever baptized. Andy came to our church after his sister-in-law received our mass-mailing. She attends another church, but after reading our mailing thought Andy would relate more to ours. Andy's a bright, articulate, Ivy-League-trained engineer; gentle, wise, and thoughtful; and at that time a skeptic, not a believer. He began attending to please his wife. For six years he brought his doubts and skepticism.
Mountain climbing, sin, and theology. What do these three have in common? They were all part of a student discussion on the first day of a Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) pastoral care course this fall. Students heard a story of life and death on Mt. Everest, observed sinful behavior in that story, and reflected on the motives of sin and pastoral responses to it.
Before the police officer pulled me over, my conscience had already given me a ticket: I was guilty. But when the siren screamed my sin to the world, I felt ashamed. My guilt was about breaking the law; my shame was about being exposed as a moral failure. Guilt and shame accompany all sin. They are what make sin so grievous and the preaching of forgiveness so urgent.
Several years ago I heard about a minister from western Michigan who entertained a call from a church somewhere in New York. Since they wanted to hear him preach and he wanted to check out the lay of the land, he and his wife booked a flight. The congregation was rumored to be "liberal," but then doesn't almost every church out east seem "liberal" by Midwestern standards?