Where We’re Headed: Beginning a Conversation on Evangelism and Interfaith Work

Faith Line Protestants was born early one Friday morning at a coffee shop at the University of Illinois.  Cameron and I had just represented the U of I at the IFYC‘s Interfaith Leadership Institute in Washington D.C., and had realized we had something in common– an evangelical perspective on interfaith work.

So as we talked over coffee, we shared our experiences: church congregations that quarreled amongst themselves more than they served others, evangelism strategies that made sharing the gospel seem unnatural and awkward, and the excitement of interfaith work as a new arena for living out our faith.

Hoping to change the discussion regarding interfaith and the evangelical Christian community, we decided to start writing about our thoughts and experiences.  But that’s not because we have it all figured it out.  Cameron and I have discovered something exciting in interfaith work: a practical model for inter-religious cooperation which suggests that religious violence can be ended, social issues can be addressed, and meaningful relationships can be established between disparate peoples.

Though at first we thought we’d be simply making the case for interfaith involvement, we’re really beginning a journey of exploring the intersection of interfaith work and evangelism.  There seems to be an unnecessary tension between the Biblical imperatives to “make disciples of all nations” and to “love your neighbor,” to proselytize and to practice respect.  Individually convinced by the reasons for interfaith involvement discussed in our previous posts, we’ve dived in and have been unpacking this tension along the way.

While we don’t yet have a thorough way of articulating our discoveries, we realize that we are compelled to be not just participants, but leaders of interfaith cooperation.  And we would like to suggest that honest participation in interfaith work might even be a better witness than many of the “best practices” for evangelism which we have been taught through our Christian education.

This is a call to other evangelicals who are sick of seeing the man on the quad, holding a sign that says “God hates gays” and yelling about an impending hell.  It is a call to those who struggle with the awkwardness of forced spiritual discussions and cold-turkey proselytization.  It is a call to those who desire to make known the love of Christ in a genuine way.

We move forward with further discussion on the evangelism-interfaith tension; we have stories of relationships and convictions, frustrations and inspirations.  We’ll look to current events and Biblical themes for an understanding of how and why we approach interfaith work as evangelicals.  You are invited to respond, to argue, and to discover with us.

 

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Photo by pop catalin (http://www.sxc.hu/profile/catalin82)

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4 thoughts on “Where We’re Headed: Beginning a Conversation on Evangelism and Interfaith Work

  1. Emy

    Thanks for the excellent post, Greg! I recently had a conversation about evangelism and the Great Commission with a former youth pastor at the Lutheran School of Theology here in Chicago. What struck us was the specific call to “make disciples” of all nations. From my time in college with Campus Outreach, I know that we always thought of discipleship as a long process, often referring to it as “life-on-life” ministry. Apart from different evangelism tools, we always focused on discipleship as an intentional process of sharing your life with others, allowing them to see your relationship with Christ through how you live. It was always challenging for me to reconcile that concept of discipleship with certain techniques for evangelism.

    Would love to hear others’ thoughts on this!

    Reply
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  3. Chika Chukwujekwu

    Agree so much with this post as it mirrors my thoughts and frustrations about the way the christian faith is portrayed and practiced. I live in the UK but would like to be kept up to date with what you’re doing.

    Reply
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