Fluff the pillows, vacuum the rugs, and get your questions ready. Weâ€™re going to have a guest.
In thinking about the dynamics of dialogue, Iâ€™ve become intrigued by evangelism and the tension it introduces between Christianity and the rest of the world. Many Christians view telling others about Christ as a core requirement of their faith. Many of other faiths see the practice as an offensive, old-school sales pitch, with one person pressuring another to convert. That would make evangelism antithetical to dialogue.
Since that article appeared, Iâ€™ve heard from several Christian leaders who are also working to redefine evangelism. In the process, they may have something to say to those among us who find the traditional model reprehensible.
One of those leaders is Jeffrey Johnson, whoâ€™s come out with Got Style? Personality-Based Evangelism. His thesis is that Christians, while all called to evangelism, must approach it according to their individual personalities. If, for instance, youâ€™re more relationally based, you might focus on nonverbal evangelism, rolling up your sleeves and helping your neighbors. If youâ€™re more analytical, perhaps you engage others in thoughtful discussions of certain topics. (Hmm. Sounds like dialogue, yes?) While allowing that a few Christians are hard-wired for assertive evangelism, he questions the overall effectiveness of this approach in a skeptical and diverse society.
So can dialogue and evangelism peacefully coexist? Thatâ€™s what we aim to find out. Next week, Johnson comes to The Dialogue Venture as part of a blog tour to promote Got Style? I have questions for him, but Iâ€™d like to include yours as well.
If you have a question or two, please send them along before Friday noon (Eastern Standard Time). You can use the comment space on this post or just contact me directly. While I canâ€™t guarantee Iâ€™ll use every question (especially if we get tons of them), Iâ€™ll include as many as I can.
This could be an opportunity to pick the brain of someone whoâ€™s trying to break down a few old walls. Help me help him do that. Think up some questions and fire away.