The central term for what would be called in another generation “evangelism” is “missional” for the emerging movement. This week I will focus on the New EE, the sense of evangelism for the emerging movement, and to do so I will look at some themes in Jesus and then the early churches.
Let me return to my old theme, the Lukan thread — the kingdom thread in Luke’s Gospel that could easily become a central feature of the New EE. The passages are, and I won’t cite them here, provide the core of what Jesus means by the kingdom:
1. It begins with Mary’s Magnificat and her prophetic insight into what God was about to do: Luke 1:46-55.
2. It includes Zechariah’s Benedictus and his prophetic insight into what God was about to do: 1:67-79.
3. Jesus enters the picture, building on the two previous visions, with his inaugural sermons: 4:16-30.
4. Jesus announces who it is who is blessed and who will and who will not enter into God’s kingdom: 6:20-26.
5. Jesus reveals to John’s disciples just what his mission is all about: 7:18-23.
6. The Pentecostal sermon by Peter and its citation of Joel 2:28-32: Acts 2:17-21.
7. The establishment of the earliest Christian communities where the core values are summarized: 2:42-47.
This leads me to four features of an evangelism that begins with Jesus’ missional focus:
1. It is holistic in scope: heart, soul, mind, and strength. You can find them in these passages.
2. It is ecclesial in shape: Jesus’ intent was to form communites of faith, not just individuals. For my take, the capsule summary in Acts 2:42-47 is not an aberration or some early Christian enthusiasm but the very fulfillment of Jesus’ table fellowship practices. The Spirit of Acts 2 empowered the vision of Jesus to be accomplished.
3. It is eschatological in surge: time and time again there is a sense that Israel’s Story is brought into clear focus and a new age has dawned in Jesus’ teachings and the early Christian praxis. On top of this, the early songs of Mary and Zechariah are profoundly eschatologically-shaped songs that say “Now the salvation of our God has drawn near…”.
4. It is Christocentric in salvation: redemption is found in Jesus Christ in these chapters. Jesus points to himself; others point to Jesus; and the Pentecostal sermons are totally shaped by God’s redemptive work in Jesus Christ.