Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Just Walk Across the Room" - Bill Hybels' Evangelism without an Evangel


What it’s about?

“Just a few steps and a friendly hello may be all it takes to change someone's life—and their eternity! And the good news is, it has more to do with taking a genuine interest in another person and listening to their story than it does with learning evangelism tactics and techniques.
Thousands of churches are already implementing the simple, personal approach described in Bill Hybels' award-winning book, Just Walk Across the Room. Now is your church's opportunity. Learn how to equip your members to walk in a totally new way of evangelism. The concepts aren't hard, just effective.
Take the first step today—and watch your church shape more tomorrows than you ever dreamed possible.” 


What’s involved?

Living in 3D
If we call ourselves "Christ-followers," then it's time we walk where our Leader would walk and talk as He would talk. That calls for flat-out teamwork with the Spirit of God – who empowers us to follow Jesus' lead by living in 3D: What 3D Living really involves is treating people with God's heart for them; the way we get this done is by responding to the Holy Spirit in our ordinary, daily interactions:
• Developing friendships — Offering radical acceptance and love to people God places around us and seizing opportunities to envelop them in grace-filled community, regardless of their appearance and lifestyle.
• Discovering stories — Taking the time and interest to learn their life stories, rather than being a self-absorbed clock-watcher.
• Discerning next steps — Walking when the Spirit says to walk, talking when He says to talk, and falling silent when He suggests we've said enough.

So what’s wrong?

With regards to Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels, I actually have the book plus the DVD. As far as evangelistic training goes, the teaching does have some considerable faults:

Omission of “Repentence”: The book simply mentions nothing at all about repentance from Sin. Yet, in Jesus' own words, repentance is at the very core of the Great Comission:45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." Luke 24:45-49

A works-based view of sin and holiness: Bill Hybels uses a “Morality Ladder” to explain sin and morality. From page 138-
“‘Mother Teresa,’ I say, ‘would probably qualify for a rung about three-fourths of the way up.
And just as a guess, Billy Graham probably falls right below her. As far as I’m concerned, I guarantee I land lower than those two.’ I place the initials of the three of us on the ladder, leaving an honourable amount of space between BG (Billy Graham) and BH (me). I know my place. Then I hand over the pen. Inevitably, the person I’m in conversation with writes his or her initials just south of me. ‘Okay,’ I say. ‘Here’s my only question: What is your plan to make up your gap? Mother Teresa had a plan for her morality gap. It was the cross of Jesus Christ. Billy Graham has a plan for closing the gap between his level of morality and God’s standard of perfection. It’s the cross of Jesus Christ. So what’s your plan?” 

Hybels essentially puts forward the idea that
1) Morality is subjective on the grounds that one's moral virtue is not the same as another's

2) Certain people on the basis of their deeds are of greater moral character than others (he uses Mother Teresa and Billy Graham as his example)

3) Christ as filling a “gap” that varies from person to person. The logical inference is that it is possible for a person to either widen or close the gap based on their deeds, and wherever someone is “at”, Jesus acts as a crutch. Yet this is not how scripture describes sin! We are told that

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
 Isaiah 64:6

9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."
 Romans 3:9-17

The issue is not whether I am better or worse than Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, for due to the sin-nature I have been unable at all to do anything that would be pleasing before God. This is what is often referred to as Original Sin or Total Depravity. Yet Hybels seems to reject it.

We must also remember that sin is not defined by scripture as getting 
x out of yon a “Morality Ladder” in comparison to others, but rather sin is 

“transgression of the [Moral] Law” (1 John 3:4) 

and that 

“whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it “ (James 2:10). 

No one has the right to claim 
“on a scale between 0 and Mother Teresa, I'm good/bad”, because 

“we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world [not just the Jews] held accountable to God.20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin“ (Romans 3:19-20).

Without a proper understanding of biblical morality, the nature of Justification and Christ’s role in it simply makes no sense whatsoever.

3. Church attendance used as the yard-stick for effectiveness in outreach rather than the actual conversion experience of a non-believer

Quig Fletcher and Pat McDaniel are two men who have been part of the Willow family since the early days. They both said I could pick on them for the purposes of this book, so I offer their stories now as great examples of formulating a good before-and-after.
Quig has chaired the board of directors meetings at Willow Creek for more than twenty-five years. But before he became such a faithful part of our church, we crossed paths at the Bueller YMCA in Palatine, Illinois. He and I played racquetball almost weekly, a habit that led to a deep friendship.
In those days, Quig wasn’t a very religious person by his own admission. He thought that since he couldn’t seem to stop sinning, there was no hope of heaven for Him. The first time I crossed that locker room to talk to him, I had enough collateral in the relationship that he was actually open to talking about spiritual things. When the time came for me to tell my story, I remember feeling a little insecure because there was nothing flashy to it. I wasn’t a reformed serial killer. God hadn’t had to rehabilitate me from some thousand-buck-a-day cocaine habit. My story just wasn’t dramatic by most standards.
So I walked Quig through my plain-vanilla journey to faith, and soon afterward he began attending church – then a small gathering of young people in a movie theatre. Many, many years went by, but one day at the age of forty-six, he met Christ and his life was radically changed. Because of the work of the Spirit in his life, Quig no longer saw himself as career sinner but instead as freshly anointed saint – from hopeless to heaven-bound.
“Looking back,” Quig told me recently, “I probably would have accepted Jesus Christ much sooner if someone had explained the gospel to me. I had the heart for it but never really had the opportunity.”
 (pg. 129) 

Although Hybels uses this as an example of his outreach model, it actually betrays his views with regards to the level of concern he enourages his church to have when it comes to the eternal welfare of the lost. First, Quig’s testimony is centred around church attendance while the actual conversion is considered subsequent. Quig openly admits that he probably would have accepted Christ much sooner had he simply been told the gospel upfront, suggesting that despite several years of attending the church, no one – among the visitors, the membership or the pastorate – even bothered to explain the gospel clearly.

The closest thing to an instruction for what we are to do when a non-believer is present in any of our gatherings – whether it be small-group or Sunday service – in the Apostle Paul's teaching about how the gift of prophecy is to function in the church in

1 Corinthians 14:24-25 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"

While the context of the passage is about tongues and prophecy, there is also an evangelistic application that essentially says 
“If you're here as a visitor and you don't know Jesus, you're more than welcome, but understand first and foremost: You are not one of us, as such you will be preached at; we will refute your objections; we will talk about your sins; we will ask you to surrender your life completely to God; and by the time this meeting is over, we expect you to have decided how you will respond.”

Romans 10:13-17
clearly states
13for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
16But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?"[c] 17Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

No one has ever came to saving faith without first receiving the gospel delivered via a verbal medium.
Those who are inclined to say of their witnessing “It’s not about preaching at people! It's about demonstrating!” are inevitably challenging clear scriptural precedent regarding the General Call to respond to the offer of salvation.

Yet Hybels seems to have the view that such preaching will only serve as a hindrance to evangelism (which is in of itself an oxymoron) for in his testimonies throughout the book, never once is there an actual explanation of the full, biblical gospel (Sin, Moral Law, the judgment to come, Repentance and Faith, Dying to Self, New Birth, Surrendering to the Lordship of Christ, the Cost of discipleship) despite his repeated admonitions to the reader about being spirit-led.

Ergo, I seriously do not recommend this resource if one’s intention is to build a healthy outreach ministry within their church.

It you’re an elder or deacon at a local church, please consider the following: How eager are you to see others know the love of God as expressed in the cross? Your family? Friends? Classmates? Co-workers?
Consider the following scenario: A non-christian comes to Lifegroup on a frequest basis. Week after week they have been coming to attend the fellowship, participate in praise and worship, listen to the teaching and in general ‘hang out”.
Yet they remain unsaved.

Take the time to ask yourself regarding how you treat unbelievers whenever they're in our midsts: are you ever going to actually give them the message which will save them from Hell? Will you ever tell them the truth clearly enough regarding that their sins and wicked works have made them enemies of God, that they are currently on the path that leads not to heaven, but to eternal wrath unless they repent and put their trust in the savior?

Or, have you decided that it’s simply easier to entertain them, that on Sundays they can come to have their carnal felt-needs met with uplifting music and good lifestyle advice? Will they ever hear from your lips the words “repent”?
“Turn to the savior”?
“Be Born again?”
If you don’t tell them these things, how will they ever be able to actually do it? Or even worse, are you just going to pretend that they’re not even there in the hopes that eventually they’ll assimilate through osmosis? Can you in good concience give your brother and sisters under your God-given care and authority the assurance that if they were to invite their unsaved friends, the gospel will be faithfully preached?

Where is the concern for another human being’s eternal welfare?

"Our first care must be that the sheep are gathered to the Great Shepard. There will be time enough afterward to secure them for our various folds. To make proselytes is a suitable labor for Pharisees. To lead men to God is the honorable aim for all laborers of Christ In the next place, we do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church rolls in order to show a good increase at the year’s end. This is easily done, and there are those who use great pains, not to say arts, to effect it. But if this practice is regarded as the epitome of a Christian’s efforts, the result will be deplorable!”
Charles Spurgeon

No comments:

Post a Comment