Cultivation Blog

Thanks for dropping by our blog! Be sure to let us know what you think and leave a comment!

Evangelization Doesn’t Work Anymore

Posted by:  /  Comments: 7

After years of speaking, writing, and personally practicing evangelization, I am moving on. I’ve come to the conclusion that evangelization doesn’t work any longer in a postmodern age. I have officially retired from evangelization.

But, I’ve found a second career. It’s in “immanuelization”. In reality, it’s evangelization (just in case you were beginning to write a nasty response and declare me a heretic!). Immanuelization is a form of evangelization that speaks to the postmodern age.

The name Immanuel means “God with us”. The prophet Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus when he announced, the virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). In order to reach us, Jesus became God’s real presence on the earth.

Similarly, if we hope to reach the present generation, we, too, must “immanuelize” by being God’s presence to our world. This is not a new concept. The Apostle Paul described the church as the body of Christ. In other words, after Jesus ascended back into heaven, we were called to be Jesus’ presence in the world.

Immauelization means that as individuals and as parish communities, we’ve got to start looking a lot more like Jesus. Propositional or universal statements of truth do not persuade postmoderns. The title “body of Christ” or “the one, holy, catholic church’ means nothing if their lived experience of us says something very different. We can’t just talk about God’s love—we’ve got to be God’s love. We have to trade in our tendencies towards blasting out disembodied truths to incarnating the presence and message of Jesus. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real.

Immauelization means we speak with our presence. It means that we live up to our billing. Jesus said the world will know us because of our compelling lives of love. (John 13:35). It means taking on the character of Christ by exemplifying the fruits of the Spirit in all our dealings with others (Galatians 5:22,23). In other words, our presence is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The call to immanuelization is a call to being. It begins with the immanuelizer. It’s a call to real discipleship. It’s a call to forming real communities of disciples.

7 Comments

Roy Petitfiils

June 11, 2010

arrow

“We have to trade in our tendencies towards blasting out disembodied truths to incarnating the presence and message of Jesus. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real.” Dude–that just made my all time favorite quote list. Powerful. I’m going to use it as my email signature for a while.

admin

June 11, 2010

arrow

Thanks, Roy! I think the world is hungering for a church that embodies the teachings of Jesus. Tom Wright, in The Crown and the Fire wrote, “The Word became flesh, said St. John, and the church has turned the flesh back into words.” Our parish communities need almost a complete re-write, moving from a focus on event to a focus on embodiment.

Kevin Driscoll

June 24, 2010

arrow

Just tweeted/FB posted this. As always, you truly get it. “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2: 19-21) Thanks, Frank!

admin

June 24, 2010

arrow

Thanks, Kevin! I tried to find you on FB among the 180 other Kevin Driscolls– help me out!

Pat Villa

June 29, 2010

arrow

Frank, thanks for sharing this movement of the Spirit in you. I feel like I should apologize a little for assuming things, since I know nothing about you or your ministry. But, anyone who is so bold as to proclaim their desire for personal/interior conversion is definitely being moved by a greater power.

Not really sure where to begin, but your post is an affirmation of a direction that I’ve already been moving. However, I’ve needed to really know that this movement is shared by others in the Church! And clearly it is.

What you are proposing is most certainly a paradigm shift, not just for youth ministry, but for every ministry that exists or will ever exist. If we are not about incarnating the love of God, then we should consider some other line of work.

I guess the question I have been continually asking my self through my own discernment on this shift is “How far am I willing to go to live/model true, authentic, life-giving humility?”

Because, to me, if this shift is powered by the Spirit in obedience to the Truth, we as a Church have to embrace this change (in humility), with all the suffering and challenges that will come with it (but also with the fruit that will be borne).

P.S. I’ve forwarded your post to several members of our parish staff to help us in our discussions about how to go about embodying the truths we profess.

admin

June 30, 2010

arrow

Pat, thanks for contributing your thoughts. I totally agree with you– the Church will need to experience a major paradigm shift. In many ways, I think parish life will require almost a complete re-write from our present form and practice. I think it is a very challenging time, but also a very exciting time.

Redefining Evangelization

October 26, 2010

arrow

[…] blog post here entitled Evangelization Doesn’t Work Anymore, I highly recommend reading the whole post (it’s […]