WHY BRIDGEBUILDERS?

4 05 2012

BY STEVE DUNN

We live in a church culture that is enamored with programs and prescriptions. What’s the sure-fire program to bring people to Jesus Christ? What three simple things can we do to achieve our responsibility to share the faith (and maybe make a few new Christians). This seminar is built on the premise that people are more important than programs in the process of evangelism. People living a Christ-like life committed to helping others to be transformed by Christ are the most valuable resource in evangelism after the work of the Holy Spirit.

Three observations have prompted this seminar. Three reflections, which I believe are grounded in God’s Word, form the foundation of its message.

(1) Many times traditional churches engage in evangelism because of survival issues. They equate evangelism with church growth. True evangelism is committed to growing the Kingdom of God.

(2) Still others are drawn to evangelism to make a better community. We downplay that people are lost without Jesus Christ. True evangelism seeks to transform lives.

(3) And too many churches want to engage in evangelism without leaving their comfort zone. To quote BIll Hybels, “God does his best work in the zone of the unknown.” True evangelism requires us to enter someone else’s world, not to expect them to meet us in ours.

Bridgebuilders was conceived out of my personal encounter with the writings of four men: Bill Hybels, Walt Mueller, Dan Kimball, and Leslie Newbiggin. You will see their influence in this material and I am indebted to them.

Bill Hybels is perhaps the most familiar to many for his teaching at Willow Creek and particularly his evangelism training Becoming a Contagious Christian. Bill is the first person to ignite in me the profound realization that “Lost people matter to God. Lost people should matter to God’s people.”

Walt Mueller is the head of the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding. His excellent work Inside the Mind of Youth Culture helped me grasp how truly different the world is today and the major issues involved in passing along the Faith to people who have been shaped by the postmodern mind.

Dan Kimball serves the interesting Southern Baptist congregation called Vintage Church. His work on They Like Jesus, But Not the Church helped me understand the challenge of mobilizing the traditional church to genuine evangelism and the terrible dilemma the world finds itself in because too many authentic Christians chose to live within “the Christian bubble.”

Early in my evangelism training I encountered Leslie Newbiggin, the great missiologist who wrote Foolishness to the Greeks. Newbiggin has written convincingly of the mission field that is the United States and the need to exegete the culture as would any good missionary who desires to be faithful and fruitful for the Kingdom.

It is my privilege to share this material with you. I passionately hope that it will help the traditional church live out its calling and privilege of being the body of Christ. For I believe in the church—in all its forms—because it is the bearer of Christ Jesus. Or as Paul would say, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Ephesians 1.27

His and yours, living in His amazing grace,

Steve Dunn

Landisville, Pennsylvania

September 2010