Anyway enough details, the change has really come in how I view witnessing to unbelievers. I had always heard talk of friendship style evangelism, but really had gotten the impression that it was a smooth way of calling your compromise in witness evangelism. My concept of friendship evangelism was a kind of blah message about Jesus' love with no judgement spoken of, coupled with numerous visits to the coffee house. So in light of this my approach had become more head on, purely confrontational. The unbeliever would say "X is my worldview." And I would respond by polemically displaying the problems (Don't get me wrong this IS good to a point. see 1 Pet 3:15 ). So my "outreach" would be a sort of parachuting into the non-Christian world firing polemical bullets at unbelievers and then getting out.
What I really have been undergoing is a tearing down of my barriers toward non-Christians. I never outright thought it but it just creeps in when you get into holy huddles enough, but I really have come to realise my "Them-ing" of unbelievers, thus really dehumanizing them. Don't get me wrong it's not that I wouldn't display love towards unbelievers, it's more that I was very impatiant with them, treating them like arguments to be proven wrong and thus be "won". What I really have been coming to see is that we have focused so much of our evangelistic efforts on "reaping" (leading people through sinners prayers) that we have lost the patience to dutifully sow seeds and let another reap.
What I have really been coming to see is that people really not only need to hear the gospel but see it (My emergent friends are rejoicing). To see us showing selfless love to them and REALLY expecting nothing in return. To see us REALLY care for them in their highs and lows. To display these things we need to be in people's lives, it will take more than drive by evangelism to display to a lost world the self sacrificial love of Christ.
And, no, this does NOT eliminate a Biblical message of judgement. Because if we truly love the lost we will tell them of God's judgement. Not merely as an intellectual fact they need to know, but with teary eyes and anguish of their souls. True friendship evangelism WILL have a message of judgement, a message of judgement mingled with tears.
This following Poem by John Bunyan gives us a picture of the judgement upon sin:
"Who falls into the fire shall burn with heat;
While those remote scorn from it to retreat.
Yea, while those in it, cry out, O! I burn,
Some farther off those cries to laughter turn.
While some tormented are in hell for sin;
On earth some greatly do delight therein.
Yea, while some make it echo with their cry,
Others count it a fable and a lie."
This is heavy truth, and shame on us if we can read this and not feel any anguish over the lost souls of our unbelieving friends and loved ones who delight in that which has damned so many. I have also been reading through Schaeffer's "Death in the City" which is in part commentary on Jeremiah. Schaeffer uses Jeremiah in the midst of a God rejecting Israel to illustrate what our attitude should be towards men's unbelief, one of weeping. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet, he was in anguish over the unbelief of Israel. This should be our hearts attitude as well toward unbelief, and it will be if we love the lost and don't merely approach them in their lostness in a drive-by evangelistic manner. So my question to anyone who didn't get bored and has read this far is this: "Do you love the lost?"
To close there is much more to the vision for ministry God is shaping in me. I have really focused on this issue of Christian love, because it is central to true outreach and it really is radical. This IS RADICAL, it is radical (by that I mean it goes against every selfish and sinful desire of ours) to love somebody enough to lay down your personal preferences/comfort to genuinely love them. This IS CHRISTIAN LOVE. Again this is radical and if you don't think so you don't get it, you don't get what I am talking about at all. What I am talking about is what Schaeffer called "The Mark of the Christian", which is selfless love displayed to a lost world in an unfiltered compassion for others. I want to live this way with every Spirit born fiber in me.