The second chp in David Fitch’s book, The Great Giveaway, concerns how to evangelize in postmodernity, and for those of you who have read this blog or are conversant with the discussion about evangelism in the emerging movement, this chapter will either be “old hat” or a splendid survey of a new take on evangelism.
The central line of his chp is this: evangelism is what the church is and does more than what it says (though he is more fond of the via negativa than perhaps he should be: thus, it is what the church is and does and not what it says.) I wonder how you think evangelism is to look like today — what are you doing? what do you think is “most effective”?
First, Fitch surveys postmodernity and sees a major shift in how postmoderns experience science (as a view, not the truth) and how postmoderns doubt that truth is accessible to the critical individual mind.
Second, he weighs in against evidentiary apologetics for being rooted in another worldview, that of science, instead of the truth of the gospel, the community of faith, and the Scriptures. He also critiques the seeker model for its anonymity, is consumerist model, its individualism, and its fostering of an understanding of the church that is inadequate.
Third, and this is what I like most about Fitch — he’s not just a critic but a constructionist , he has some ideas of what evangelism for postmoderns ought to look like: display the gospel (perform it) because truth is about character and relationship. How so?
Prayer, mercy, justice
Be a community
Third Space evangelism (coffee shops)
Rite of baptism (he shows major influences from Webber)
This shifts evangelism from crusades to church planting, and from “just as I am” to baptism.
My own response to this chapter is that it too often trades in exaggerations, though I am quite convinced of the need for performative evangelism, and suggests too much that postmoderns are out there waiting to see this sort of thing. Personally, I think there is a lot of modernism left in our world and the distinction between modernists and postmodernists is a spectrum rather than a stark alternative.