This is the last post in my LONG series on Evangelism and Mission. I have been following Bosch’s 18 points on evangelism provided in his book, Transforming Mission. Each point was listed and then enlarged upon, sometimes following close to Bosch and sometimes diverging. Sometimes I used his point to springboard into another topic (for instance, on the post on contextualization I never really addressed Bosch’s point. Instead, I took the opportunity to look into the roots of this term and how it played out in China with Roland Allen and Watchman Nee). Overall, this series has been a fun and challenging exercise for me. I’m glad I did it (in the twofold sense of “I’m glad I undertook it” and “I’m glad I’m done with it”) and hopefully a few people trudged through it all with me and came away with a keener understanding of the gospel. You can find a link to all the posts at the bottom.
Ultimately, all our talk ABOUT evangelism should lead TO evangelism itself. Definitions act as helpful boundaries and guides, but are no replacement for demonstration (1 Cor. 2:4). The gospel is not an intramural discussion but an extramural event. As someone has noted, the gospel begins with the word “go”.
After eighteen points exploring the nature, content, scope, and relationship of evangelism to mission, Bosch “attempts” a definition of evangelism. He cautions against delineating “the content of our evangelism too sharply, too precisely, and too self-confidently” (p, 420).
Here is Bosch’s summary definition of evangelism:
That dimension and activity of the church’s mission which, by word and deed and in the light of particular conditions and a particular context, offers every person and community, everywhere, a valid opportunity to be directly challenged to a radical reorientation of their lives, a reorientation which involves such things as deliverance from slavery to the world and its powers; embracing Christ as Savior and Lord; becoming a living member of his community, the church; being enlisted into his service of reconciliation, peace, and justice on earth; and being committed to God’s purpose of placing all things under the rule of Christ.
-Transforming Mission, p. 420
Despite the obvious attempt at comprehensiveness, with all the nuances involved in this attempted definition, I find it a little lacking. To me it is too academic and obscures what the bottom line of evangelism is. Plus, it’s just way too much to remember.
I would suggest something like this:
Evangelism is the proclamation of God’s good news for man’s salvation in unambiguous words centered on the person and work of Christ and aimed at the response of repentance and faith.
This definition doesn’t cover all the details of the gospel–what it entails, what it produces, or all its various aspects–but for clarity and brevity I think it hits the essentials.
Paul ends the book of Romans, which is a sketch of the gospel of God, with a definition of sorts. And that’s where I’ll end this series:
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel, that is, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which has been kept in silence in the times of the ages but has now been manifested, and through the prophetic writings, according to the command of the eternal God, has been made known to all the Gentiles for the obedience of faith; to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. –Rom. 16:25-27
What is your working definition of evangelism?