N.J. Gathering and Authentic Spirituality

<%image(20050425-evangelist.jpg|89|108|pushy evang.)%> I had a great meeting with some friends in NJ over the weekend. The coffee, coke, and brew flowed freely as we covered a wide range of topics. Two things in particular struck me. One is the group’s desire to be a counter or parallel culture of sorts and the other was a discussion about authentic spirituality and its ramifications on things such as evangelism. Nate (whose blog is back) shared a definition of authentic spirituality that revolved around what is natural for us to do within the leading of the Spirit (or something like that, I hope he posts something about it to clear things up!).

Since evangelism seems to be everyone’s favorite topic to beat the stuffing out of these days, we hit on it (I mean, if Christians do evangelize, let’s face it, we usually do it poorly). If anything, I think the collective guilt that we have stored up over the years about NOT doing evangelism or doing it poorly is one of the root causes of why it comes up so often in conversations among younger evangelicals.

Nate’s wife Jen had a great insight, stating that once we develop a proven technique for sharing the faith, we usually block out the Spirit and somehow botch it up.

That’s not to say that we cannot get better at sharing our faith or that we should not bring up the Gospel to people on the streets. I think the key is that we don’t box up evangelism into one format and if you don’t like that format, you’re a scared, selfish, loser Christian who has the blood of many people on his/her hands. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can contort and twist and pollute a good thing?

I don’t want to say that people who hand out evangelistic tracts on a street corner are wrong, but only that they better be out there because God has put a fire in them to do that very thing and the fire can’t be quenched in any other way than doing it. In my mind, that practice is annoying. I never want anything shoved in my face while I’m walking down the street, much less the Gospel! To me, that devalues the message of Jesus.

So what is natural for me or for you?
And by the way Nate, if you’re reading this, I’m counting on you to make this rambling post come to some kind of decent resolution!

One thought on “N.J. Gathering and Authentic Spirituality

  1. nate hulfish

    I’ve been asking myself the following question…What is authentic biblical spirituality? Because for me, all of my life should authentically flow out of a spirtiuality rooted in the biblical person of Jesus Christ. So whether it comes to evangelism (the primary topic of the other night), or to worship, or to prayer, or to community, or to any other spiritually related discipline – the focus moves away from doing and on to being.

    My working definition (Todd Hunter has helped) of authentic biblical spirituality – "Routinely, naturally, and easily embodying, announcing, and demonstrating the reality of the Kingdom of God"

    And the question that needs to inform our practices of evangelism, worship, prayer, community, and whatever else is…

    Am I routinely (regularly), am I naturally (without forcing it), am I easily (because it’s a part of who I am) embodying (living out in day to day life), announcing (giving reason for my hope), and demonstrating (intentionally ministering) the reality of the Kingdom of God?

    When we can say, "yes, that’s me" – we are not just doing evangelism or worship or anything else – we are being authentic biblical followers of Jesus Christ – and that’s what it’s about.

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