Evangelism and Mission

I’ve made it to the final chapter of Transforming Mission by David J Bosch. That in itself is little consolation as the last chapter is 142 pages, but, nonetheless, the end is in sight (truth be told I’m already a good chunk into this chapter, so it’s not that bad).

Bosch has a section here entitled “Mission as Evangelism”, in which he lays down 18 points in an attempt to clarify the relationship between these two concepts. I reproduce his list below (he has whole paragraphs on each point). Over the next 18 days (not including weekends), I plan to do a series of short posts that unpacks each of these statements. Let me say at the outset that I do not fully agree with Bosch on every point here, in fact I flat out (though respectfully) disagree with him on point 17. I’ll come to that later in the series. But since he covers a lot of ground with this list, I thought it would be a good exercise to go through it point by point.

If you find that you have strong reactions for or against any of these points, I suggest you read the corresponding post and offer your views there.

Today, I’ll just give you Bosch’s basic conviction and his outline:

Basic to my considerations is the conviction that mission and evangelism are not synonyms but, nevertheless, indissolubly linked together and inextricably interwoven in theology and praxis. –p. 411

18 Points on the Relationship Between Evangelism and Mission

  1. I perceive mission to be wider than evangelism.
  2. Evangelism should therefore not be equated with mission.
  3. Evangelism may be viewed as an essential “dimension of the total activity of the Church.”
  4. Evangelism involves witnessing to what God has done, is doing, and will do.
  5. Even so, evangelism does aim at a response.
  6. Evangelism is always invitation.
  7. The one who evangelizes is a witness not a judge.
  8. Even though we ought to be modest about the character and effectiveness of our witness, evangelism remains an indispensable ministry.
  9. Evangelism is only possible when the community that evangelizes–the church–is a radiant manifestation of the Christian faith and exhibits an attractive lifestyle.
  10. Evangelism offers people salvation as a present gift and with it assurance of eternal bliss.
  11. Evangelism is not proselytism.
  12. Evangelism is not the same as church extension.
  13. To distinguish between evangelism and membership recruitment is not to suggest, though, that they are disconnected.
  14. In evangelism, “only people can be addressed and only people can respond.”
  15. Authentic evangelism is always contextual.
  16. Because of this, evangelism cannot be divorced from the preaching and practicing of justice.
  17. Evangelism is not a mechanism to hasten the return of Christ, as some suggest.
  18. Evangelism is not only verbal proclamation

22 thoughts on “Evangelism and Mission

  1. Mark 16:15 says “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to all the creation”. “This reveals that God´s
    redemption is not only for man, but also for all the creation.” (from footnote 15.2 ,Recovery Version)
    Cf. Col. 1:20,23; Rom. 8:19-22. – Sometimes we need to preach the Gospel even to the trees or animals..
    So I do not fully agree with point 14. – What is an “attractive lifestyle” ?

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    • In saying “people”, he is emphasizing the personal responsibility and personal decision inherent in the gospel. The gospel is aimed at individuals, not governments or societies. We cannot convert nations per se, we can only convert individuals within those nations.

      By “attractive lifestyle”, he means that the credibility of our message depends on our living. We must live the gospel while proclaiming the gospel. If we say that the divine life has power to change a man, and someone looks inside the church and sees that no one has changed, our message may be undermined. I think the well known saying, “preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary” is what in essence he’s saying. Or you can look at it from the angle of Philippians 2:15-16.

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    • I see what you mean. That statement could be taken one of two ways. Mere conversion evangelism will not bring the Lord back, as you say. But Matt 24:14 directly links the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the Lord’s return. So in that sense it is a factor. Bottom line- we need to grow unto maturity and live in the reality of the kingdom!

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