Part of the spiritual formation of followers of Jesus surely should involve helping them know how to introduce Jesus into conversations and be able to pass along pertinent insights to people who are being drawn to God. Because we have made evangelism a sales activity in the North American church, we have reduced how much of it goes on. In many cases, we're not peddling Jesus - we're peddling the church, with the assumption that if people will come to the church and convert to churchianity they will get Jesus. What they often get is a poor substitute. Evangelism that will introduce Jesus to this culture will flow from people who are deeply in love with Jesus. [author's emphasis] It has happened before - in the book of Acts. Their relationship with Jesus was what the early Christian community had to share with the world. They didn't have a Roman road, a New Testament, or any doctrinal treatises or "plan of salvation." They had Jesus. And people knew it. Their love for him turned the world upside down.I grew up in a church where we learned "five finger salvation." Regrettably, we didn't learn to love Jesus quite as much. (That is no indictment on the church - that's just how things were done.) But then how is one taught to love Jesus? It happens, I think, when we see other people loving him and when we personally experience his love. Too often, though, my spiritual formation has centered around learning about Jesus and not as much in getting to know Jesus.
If McNeal is correct, and I'm pretty certain he is, then we need to recover the concept of helping people experience the love of Christ and thereby loving him back.
Frankly speaking . . . that is going to require me to rethink some things.