The subject of “evangelism vs. missional” seems to be a regular theme in my surroundings as of late. It’s appearing in conversations with friends, sermons that I podcast, and even discussions I have had at work (which is normal because I work for a Christian organization, for those of you who didn’t know.)
And it’s got me to thinking about, wrestling with, and trying to conclude what the difference is and why it’s important. Had you asked me a year ago what the difference was, I would have said there wasn’t one. However, I am beginning to see that there is.
In terms of how they are defined, here’s are how they’re broken down:
Evangelical– relating to or being a Christian church believing in personal conversion and the inerrancy of the Bible especially the 4 Gospels
Missional– Missional living is the embodiment of the mission of Jesus in the world by incarnating the gospel. “It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.” This embodiment of the gospel is often referred to as “contextualization” or “inculturation.”
There is clearly a stark difference between the two, but I think that maybe, there really shouldn’t be. If one is believing the Gospel message and one is living the Gospel message, shouldn’t they be interchangeable?
I was reading through James today and the little book is densely packed with this repeating theme: faith without works is dead.” Over and over again it is stated one way or another that if you have faith in Christ, you will live and He lived and if you live as He lived, your faith is evident by your actions.
Faith and lifestyle are not only reflections of one another– they are Siamese twins; where one goes, the other follows.
Tim Keller, who is much smarter than me, explains it this way.
Let’s discuss this, shall we? Participation would be greatly appreciated.