Guest post by Ed Waken (part 1): Discovering what’s been stolen

Are all of us called to evangelize? This series of blog posts has been on simple/organic mission and evangelism. It has provoked a slew of questions. I am blessed to know Ed, an evangelist who is involved in organic churches. Here is his unique take on some of the questions.

Ed WakenEd is a leader in a network of organic churches in Phoenix Arizona.  He also serves with Church Multiplication Associates on their leadership team as an Evangelist.  Ed mentors and coaches a variety of leaders around the world in areas of leadership, discipleship, evangelism and organic church principles.  Ed and Debbie have been married since 1978 and they have three grown children and two grandsons. 

For too long the truth, adventure, mystery and joy that comes with giving away the life of Jesus has been stolen from the ordinary believer.  We have been taught methods of sharing Jesus that feel more cold, distanced and dutiful than life giving.  We have heard that just a few gifted ones will really be successful at evangelism.  This is yet another blow designed to sideline the ordinary person from engaging in the supernatural act of sharing the life of Jesus with those who are so thirsty to taste the goodness of God.

The Truth

The great commission is often seen as Jesus’ marching orders to make disciples which must include the initial and ongoing sharing of Jesus’ good news with those who have not yet heard.  The great commission and Jesus’ similar instructions to the twelve in Acts 1:8 were delivered directly to His twelve Apostles.  This has caused some to believe that not every follower of Jesus is responsible to engage in giving away the life of Christ; it simply is not their gift.  This is not the truth.  There is an often overlooked statement in the great commission that instructs the Twelve to be teaching their disciples “…to obey everything I have commanded you”.  The Twelve were to teach the ordinary believer to obey everything Jesus taught them which includes the making of disciples or the being a witness to all the world.  Everyone is responsible to be intentionally sharing the life of Jesus with the world.

The truth is that the ordinary person is a competent minister of the good news (2 Cor. 3:6).  The truth is that success in evangelism should be measured by conversations about Jesus not conversions to Jesus.  Ordinary people are only responsible to tell about and demonstrate the love of Jesus.  Only Supernatural beings are responsible for the results, “I planted, Apollos watered but God was causing the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).  Everyone is an evangelizer and success is measured by obedience to share.

8 replies on “Guest post by Ed Waken (part 1): Discovering what’s been stolen”

Cindy, I’t will be interesting to see if Ed replies to this.
I recently did a study of all four occasions when Jesus sent out the 12 or the 70. Very few things occurred in all four accounts. One of those that did, however, was the verse about if people reject you, shake the dust from your feet. That always seems a bit harsh, but maybe it’s realistic. What do you think?

This was discussed at Greenhouse training session this past weekend that I attended. Someone pointed out that shaking the dust off also represents leaving the bad stuff — negativity, division — behind and pressing on in faith.

We train people in the Luke 10 principle of being overtly spiritual without being obnoxiously religious as a means of finding Persons of Peace–bridges into their family/community. Focus on finding these. Stay with these. Help these to get to know God by sharing stories from Creation to Christ. Do not spend time irritating the closed-minded. Provoke them to jealousy by taking the gospel to the least likely (ala Paul taking it to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealousy).

Cindy, I was one of those who did NOT want to hear and even denied that the things spoke to me had any affect…and yet…there was an erosion happening to the callous’ of my soul. Allow me to share two quick points here;
1.) There are no techniques and yet there are an infinite number of techniques to fix this 🙂 There are no techniques that you or I can develop that will work all the time every time. Frankly, we are not smart enough nor skilled enough to be able to read a person’s heart or situation and know the most artful/tasteful way to talk about the Gospel. It is not possible with man yet we keep trying to invent the right method. Instead, there are an infinite amount of techniques that are known only to God and He will give them to us on an ‘as needed’ basis. As needed when we engage folks with the Gospel (Matthew 10:16-20). Listen to what Jesus is telling you to say and when to say it and follow that. The truth is that His words and techniques, through you, will have His desired effect on their heart.
2.) Regardless of people’s responses to the truth of Jesus, we must always keep in mind that God is making His point in a persons soul. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:3 What I learn from this is that God works differently in each person and has a specific result in mind for each encounter with truth. Our role is to have the conversation. God’s role is to change the heart.
I hope this is of some benefit to you. Let’s keep the conversation going if there are more thoughts!

Thanks for responding, Ed. So what do you do? Just walk down the sidewalk and talk to people you see? Because I don’t know any non-Christians with whom I haven’t already shared, and none of them were impressed, and I can’t keep pestering them.
Our ekklesia is discussing discovery (inductive) bible studies, and how we might be able to use that as an outreach method. I and we genuinely want to minister to the people around us, but we seriously don’t know how.
I’m a very shy person with strangers (though less so than when I was younger), and I’m not sure how I can force myself to just accost someone on the street. I’m not sure I should do that. I’m pretty sure no one else in the group (except for one guy, maybe) is at all excited about that idea, either.
It’s not like I’ve never done it, btw. When I was younger I did force myself to go out and “share” with people at concerts (stoned people) and bars (drunk people) and just wandering the streets at night. We did it for years, but it never had any visible fruit. I’m not likely to do that again unless Jesus specifically tells me to.
Thoughts? I appreciate your input.
Blessings, Cindy

Cindy, your last comment hit the nail on the head! Only do what Jesus specifically tells you to do. The Gospel has always flown on the wings of relationship…where people can walk together, see the Gospel lived out, ask questions and choose to submit to Jesus or not. A changed life is hard to argue with 🙂 I think your sharing Jesus with your friends is way outstanding. To know that just about everyone of your friends has heard the Gospel is amazing. Apparently, they are not interested (yet) in pursuing Jesus according to what you have written.
I think Jesus would encourage you (and your ekklesia) to keep sowing seed in other fields. In other words, find more friends, a new set of friends and see what happens. Maybe take up a new hobby or sport, hang out at coffee shop or try a new gym. Ask God where He is at work in the lives of people and spend some time there. I would not suggest abandoning your current friends. When it comes to spiritual conversations with them, don’t abandon them, don’t pursue them but remain available to them and follow the lead of Jesus. Ask Him to make the soil of their souls ready to hear and receive His truth.
Evangelism takes shape in so many ways, we must simply draw close to Jesus and follow His voice. Jesus has created you specifically for certain ears to hear about Him (Acts 17:26-27). You are alive today and live in your neighborhood and work where you do on purpose…because God created you to have an affect on those around you.
Don’t take on the responsibility of seeing people submit to Jesus (although we all want to see that). Instead, enjoy the adventure and mystery of giving away His truth and rejoice that you are obedient. Is. 55:11 & Hebrews 4:12 teach me that when I do give out God’s Word, it will be affective, every time. Enjoy God romancing the hearts of your friends. Watch how He may sweep them off their feet when they least expect it.
I believe that if more believers had hearts like I’m hearing yours to be, there would be much more seed sown and therefore much more results. Remember that the more we sow, the more we will reap. Keep sowing. Feel free to keep this conversation going if you’d like. You can click on my name to e-mail me if you want to communicate that way as well.

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