More Ready Than You Realize:
by Brian D. McLaren, Zondervan, 2002, 188p.
This is much more than another “how to” book on doing evangelism. It offers “fresh, encouraging, challenging, groundbreaking, and doable ideas” about sharing Christ with persons in the postmodern context.
McLaren understands how the modern era gave rise to the “wrestling” metaphor with respect to evangelism. But he is adamant that “evangelism as sales pitch, as conquest, as warfare, as proof, as argument, as entertainment, as show, as monologue, as something you have to do” no longer are viable images. He suggests that if we take Jesus’ model seriously we will do better to adopt a “dancing” metaphor. In this model disciple-making is seen as conversation, as friendship, as influence, as invitation, as companionship, as challenge, as opportunity, as something you get to do! If we can switch to the “evangelism as dance” metaphor, McLaren states, we will find ourselves more ready than we realize to re-engage evangelism with joy and enthusiasm.
Evangelism in the postmodern world must be rooted in communities of faith that are open-minded, diverse and accepting instead of close-minded, homogenous and judgmental. Jesus offered belonging and worth to people, says McLaren, no matter where they found themselves on their journey of faith. This is difficult for moderns to accept. It is much easier to draw sharp boundaries that reveal clearly who is in and who is out. But postmodern people will need to find places of belonging in transparent, authentic communities within which they can come to faith in unique and often gradual processes. Instead of “believing to belong,” as was emphasized in the modern era, the postmodern era will embrace “belonging to believe.” This will mean less focus on dated conversions and more on allowing persons to discover that they now do believe!
Evangelism in the 21st century will require Christians to become more comfortable living with and befriending people who are different than they are, states McLaren. They will be sensitive to the fact that the larger Christian story is not known by many around them. So believers will be careful not to use a “churchly” lexicon of words when speaking about faith. They will learn that it is okay to simply be human, to not have all the answers, and to leave room for mystery and wonder in matters of faith and life. They will learn to listen to people’s stories and identify God’s presence already at work there.
This book will help many turn evangelism from a duty to perform into a joyful lifestyle to be lived in the context of the contemporary world.