Do you sometimes show up for church and think “same bat time, same bat channel”?
Does life seem to never change, just the activities vary from day to day?
Does your heart long for adventure, but part of you is saying “get over it, it’s time to grow up”?
Did you “sign up” for Jesus, only to find, years later, that you’d really just bought into middle class America, but with less alcohol and swearing?
Is your church shrinking and you can’t figure out why?
We are all hungry for reality. A real Christianity that will make such a difference that life will never be the same. We want to see ours and others lives transformed. We don’t want to give out platitudes and placebos. We want to see the Spirit of God make a difference in the lives of the people we touch.
Evangelism in our country has had a rough ride. The one thing that has been consistent is that Christians are trying to help people who don’t know Christ come to know Him.
When I was very young, if you just presented the four spiritual laws, people would see their place in the world and come to Jesus.
Then, we were taught to corner people, ask them certain questions, and they would miraculously discover their lack and run to Jesus.
Then came what I call the multi-level marketing approach, better known as “friendship evangelism.” In this approach, you targeted people, not because you wanted to know them, but because they didn’t know Jesus. And, (if you’ve ever sat through a MLM course, the training is IDENTICAL) you target them by getting them to join you at events, getting them to become part of your life because of course, your life was so much more attractive than theirs. I was a big failure at this approach, because my yard is always a mess, my kitchen is a WORKING kitchen…and I am not good at making myself look like the Barbie model with all the accoutrements required to be attractive.
Then, we all threw our hands up and said ‘phewy I can’t do that and it doesn’t make sense’. I can’t abuse people in the name of Jesus. They have lives and they are important just as they are. (Okay, some of us threw our hands up. Others are still stuck in the 1960 – 1990 versions listed above.)
Now, there is a new wave of evangelism afoot, and Eric Michael Bryant does an excellent job of helping us to understand how we can live purposefully and evangelistically without being hypocritical and annoying.
Peppermint-Filled Pinatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love deals with real life. Not the life of Leave it to Beaver, when coming to Jesus meant joining societal norm, but today’s life, where coming to Christ means leaving the norm and joining something extra ordinary. He doesn’t shy away from the hard questions. He discusses loving muslims, homosexuals, lawbreakers, rich and poor all the same. He discusses them from the point of reality – his own experience and discomfort as he faced himself and found that Jesus could love all people through him.
I was listening to the last part of this book in the car with my 17 year old daughter this morning. I thought, since it is basically a theology book, albeit by a youth pastor, that she’d tune it out. She was enthralled. She commented to me as she got out of the car: “Out of all the books you and dad listen to, this is the first one I really like.”
Jesus loves people. He is calling them to a relationship with Himself. He wants to use you and me. He isn’t looking for converts, he is looking for relationship – and relationship comes from relationship. We need to be relationship growers. If you read this book, you will learn how we’ve been missing the mark as a church, but more importantly, how we can meet the mark as individuals and as a church.
You can buy this book on amazon: Peppermint Filled Pinatas
You can also join the PFP group on Facebook
I challenge you to get the book and learn what Eric means by Party Theology.