EFAC Australia

Our day is not unique in being concerned for effective methods to proclaim the gospel. There seems to be no end to the different means by which the gospel can be proclaimed. Amongst churches that aren't too keen on an evangelical gospel, the methods of evangelicals still seem attractive. But the search for good means to evangelise can confuse us.
Such a search assumes that we are the organisers and leaders of evangelism. But this is a mistake. God is the Evangelist. And it is he who chooses and uses his own methods. Of which there are three: his gospel, his Spirit, and his disciples.  We are one of the means and part of the method. Although we have found that the Holy Spirit has used us in some particular ways in the past, we should not be confused about what has happened. We can look back at large gatherings for evangelism (Whitfield, Moody, Graham). We can remember small scale efforts (Dialogue Evangelism, Alpha). We know about personal evangelism, and apologetics, and church planting. But merely repeating the method does not necessarily produce the same effects.
Because those means are not the primary means. Gospel, Spirit, Disciple – they are the means.
Another temptation we face is to make the gospel sound reasonable. To put it in the terms which our hearers want to hear it. To clothe it in a form or style that makes the hearers feel comfortable.  This is different to stating it in terms that they can understand: in their language and in thought forms which they can grasp. Always we should try to make the gospel clear and plain. 
But the gospel intentionally subverts humans' demands to have it expressed according to the way they view reality. It intentionally appears foolish and weak. That is part of God's really effective method. Explaining the foolish message of the crucified Lord does require some careful tracking to make it clear in plain language without adapting it so that it is no longer the gospel but just an agreeable religious message. 
That is one reason we need to follow the Spirit as the chief Director of Evangelism and not get too carried away with the really good ideas we have tried out or read about. 
In this issue of Essentials we have a lot about Mission. Lots of books and practical ideas. Quite a few are set in the context of Islam. Evangelism amongst Muslims, I think,  is a good case study of the poverty of methods and the power of God's means. Grant Lock's Shoot Me First is a wonderful testimony to God's power. I hope you are encouraged by this issue. 

Dale Appleby

Dale Appleby is the rector 
of Christ the King Willetton 
and the editor of Essentials