I grew up Baptist and used to do door-to-door "soul winning" as a teenager. I've been on trips to Jamaica where we taught Vacation Bible School and would share our faith with people everywhere we went. So, I have a particular understanding of "Evangelism" in mind when I talk about it, one that I don't necessarily agree with anymore, but one that I still think holds considerable value.
Rachel Held Evans tweeted yesterday about how she tends to keep one eye on her Evangelical past, even as she's trying to stay focused on the road that God currently has her on (which just so happens to be The Episcopal Church). I can sympathize with that statement.
Try as I might, there are parts of my Evangelical and Baptist past that remain. My CPE (that's short for "Clinical Pastoral Education" and it's the bane of every seminarian) supervisor once quipped that I had to become an Episcopalian in order to become a better Baptist. I like the way he put that.
One of the things that I think we Episcopalians would do well to learn from the Baptists and Evangelicals are the various tools to articulate our faith to non-Christians. I've long been a fan of The Wordless Book and we will look at my own Episcopal twist on it this upcoming Sunday at 9:15.
But as I am working on my notes for Sunday, I am aware that digital social media presents a wrinkle. No longer can we knock on doors and share, say, "the Romans Road to salvation" or even the Wordless Book. People don't have those kinds of attention spans.
We live in a world of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine. A world where we look at something, maybe tap "like" and scroll on down to the next thing.
So I Googled "The Gospel in 140 Characters." And I found a couple of interesting blog posts. Like this one. And this.
The thing is, those kinds of posts are great and fun but there's nothing consistent. It's everyone else drafting versions of what they believe the gospel to be, perhaps trying to out-wit one another, and get the most favorites and retweets. I know, because this is the sort of thing I do.
So how do we address the needs of this culture while finding something true, consistent, and easily sharable?
Here's the gospel in one word: Jesus.
Many of the other gospel-sharing ideas we have are lists of precepts. They are concepts.
But concepts don't save us.
Theology, dogma, doctrine... none of it saves us. Yes, it's all important and enriches our life with God.
No thing can save us. Rather, the truth is closer to what we find on the painted sign on the highway:
So, when people ask you what it means to be a Christian tell them, "Jesus." And trust that the Holy Spirit will lead them where they need to be.