During my training as a preacher mission or evangelism studies were not part of the curriculum. Also, our church district with a membership of about 60,, clearly emphasized the importance of social and political involvement. Environmental issues and ecumenical relations dominated the agenda. The necessity for disciple-making was almost totally ignored. At meetings of the district synod evangelism was more or less an non-word.
When the synodical adviser for home mission, who happened to be the only evangelical incumbent of the church district, left the district the position was never filled again. To summarize, one can say that evangelism was basically regarded as the ministry of evangelical Christians. On the basis of my own experience I asked myself two questions. Firstly, was the positive assessment of the Leipzig synod and its effect for mission and evangelism in the regional churches justified?
And secondly, if not, are there any theological reasons for this?
This phenomenon is rooted in mainstream German Protestant theology. Furthermore, I carried out an empirical research into the role of evangelism in the regional churches of the EKD in general and the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland specifically. Last but not least, I analysed the theologies of influential German-speaking theologians of different theological schools with regard to their understanding of mission in general and evangelism in particular.
Firstly, mission is understood as missio Dei, i.
God is, as D. Bosch puts it, a missionary God. God has revealed himself as the One who loves the world.
Order by , and we can deliver your NextDay items by. Because of the synod, Herbst argues, mission and evangelism are clearly on the churches agenda Herbst M, letter dated 8th May Both ignore the kingdom aspect of mission and evangelism. The organizers claim that 27, people came forward to make a commitment of faith in Christ. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel.
He is active in the world, as he heals, forgives sins and reconciles people to himself and to one another. Secondly, mission and evangelism are not identical. Mission is wider than evangelism. Evangelism is an integral part, i. Thirdly, evangelism is interested in people.
Therefore, it not the same as church growth or church expansion and it also has a non-verbal dimension. Fourthly, on the basis of these assumptions W. Fifthly, the contemporary German society is a pre-dominantly postmodern society. The main traits of postmodernity are a strong sense of community, a widespread uncertainty and relativism, a deep distrust of institutions, as well as a spiritual openness and an emphasis on experience and consumer choice.
In the Declaration the Leipzig synod recognises that the German society is a pluralistic one. It goes on to say that the church is just one competitor on a religious market. If the church wants to win people it must approach them and connect the Christian message with their life situations.
In the postmodern world the church is certainly a competitor on the religious market, but it is a handicapped competitor. The reason for this is that it offers a metanarrative, which has lost its credibility. The result is an individual patch work religion, or as W. The Declaration of the Leipzig synod underlines the importance of the missionary nature of the church.
The Protestant church wants to help people to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and to the Church as the community of believers. This commitment is basically made in baptism. A church, the synod argues, which baptises children, has the obligation to lead those to a personal faith. In view of this, one can say that the Leipzig synod sees the necessity to call people to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. This call is understood as an non-threatening invitation.
That is the reason why churches want to win members. This is what we are striving for. A church, which has forsaken the goal of growing, puts its existence in danger. Abromeit takes the latter statement as a signal that the majority of the German church leadership seems to have recognised the importance of church growth, which is motivated by the desire to spread the gospel and not by mere self-preservation.
Herbst seems to suggest. The Declaration of the Leipzig synod speaks freely about the importance of mission. It underlines that a wholesale condemnation of Christian mission is not justified. The report starts with a description of the present culture and general attitude towards religion in Germany. Thus it argues that many people in Germany think of the church as an inflexible bureaucratic organisation and that they reject any kind of authority.
The same is true for their conclusion that the present cultural mood is a challenge to the Christian faith. The anti-institutional and anti-authoritarian attitude of many Germans, for example, cannot only be seen in the steady decline of people going to the polling stations on election day, but also in the huge number of those who are leaving the 24 EKD regional churches every year.
Between and the year a total of 2,, gave up their church membership, while only , people joined or re-joined the EKD churches. In the same period the number of infant baptisms declined from , in to , in Altogether, the membership of the EKD churches decreased from 25,1 million in to 22,8 million in After a rather in-depth and precise analysis of contemporary German culture, the authors of the report give their view and definitions of mission and evangelism.
This mission, they argue, comprises not only evangelism but also diaconical work, public relations work, social action, as well as the church service on Sundays. Both articles speak about the importance of the ministry of preaching the gospel. It calls people to find salvation from their lostness, i.
The reason for that, the report explains, is that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the report says that evangelism must always be linked to a local congregation and that it must encourage converts to be baptised into the Christian church and thus to become a part of the Christian community. Though it is true that Taking the Gospel to the People sees links between evangelism, baptism, and discipleship training,  it basically understands evangelism as proclamation of the gospel.
Baptism and the discipling of new Christians are not seen as integral parts of the evangelism process. Consequently, the report sticks to the traditional Protestant model of evangelism. This becomes clear when we look at the forms of evangelism that Taking the Gospel to the People suggests.
Whether it is personal evangelism  , evangelism through the traditional ministries i. Alpha, Emmaus, seeker services, concerts etc. Abraham points out there are advantages and disadvantages with this model of evangelism. An obvious advantage, Abraham writes, is that this model emphasizes the cruciality of sharing the good news with those who have never heard it or have heard it only in parts.
Moreover, it helps to determine if evangelism is actually taking place or not by examining if the gospel is preached or taught. Last but not least, the proclamation model seeks to do justice to the little amount of biblical material on evangelism available.
Besides these strengths, the proclamation model has three main weaknesses. Watson rightly points out that throughout the New Testament, and particularly in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, the declaration of the good news is inextricably linked with the practical demonstration of the meaning of the gospel message.
Secondly, it is true that the gospel is the gospel of Christ. The gospel is also the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus came to preach the good news of the kingdom e. Matthew This kingdom aspect of mission and evangelism is almost totally ignored by the report. Thirdly, it is arguable whether the evangelistic task of the church can be limited to the four dimensions of salvation, reconciliation, commitment, and conversion, as the report seems to suggest. The great commission in Matthew , which the report rightly regards as a mandate for evangelism,  does not speak of converts but of disciples.
Grenz rightly argues that this is in line with Jesus practice as it is presented by the gospel writers: Jesus expected more from people than mere confessions. He called people to become his disciples, even if this was costly.
According to Bosch disciple-making is more than helping people to find a personal and private spirituality. Disciple-making has a social dimension. These verses are a kind of theological programme or summary of the teaching that is contained in this gospel. Because of this, Matthew must not be taken out of context and thus be degraded to a mere slogan.
The report agrees with the social and political responsibilities Christians have. It explicitly quotes Article 5 of the Lausanne Covenant, which states that evangelism and social and political action are Christian responsibilities, even though they are not identical. Evangelism is foremost understood as an invitation that leads, when accepted, to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to membership in the Christian church.
In contrast to the Leipzig Declaration the EKD report clearly puts more emphasis on the evangelistic dimension of mission. Though this is clearly true, one must say that the model of evangelism, which Taking the Gospel to the People uses, tends to be a narrow one. It focuses on the proclamation side of evangelism, which invites people to a personal faith in Jesus Christ and into the membership of the church. Order by , and we can deliver your NextDay items by. In your cart, save the other item s for later in order to get NextDay delivery. We moved your item s to Saved for Later.