Lectionary Year A
August 8, 1999
Romans 10:5-15

Hermeneutical Bridge

Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

On The Brink

      The Evangelism Committee was ready to begin its monthly meeting when Conrad tentatively looked into the room. "Hey, Conrad, are you joining our committee?" the chairman asked with enthusiasm. Typical of the situation in so many congregations, this Evangelism Committee was woefully small and always looking for additional people to serve.

      "Well, I think I am," Conrad said without much enthusiasm. "I played racquetball with the pastor a few days ago and he kind of talked me into serving on the committee. Maybe that's what I get for beating him three games straight," he laughed.

      There were only four people in the room, and Conrad wondered if this were the total committee membership. The chairman answered his unspoken query, "You just became the fifth member of our committee. It's like pulling teeth to get anyone to serve."

      "What do you do anyway?" Conrad asked. "I don't even know what the word 'evangelism' means."

      "Basically, it means telling people about Jesus," one member offered.

      "I'm leaving," Conrad joked as he pretended to push his chair back to leave.

      "Wait a minute. Don't leave," the chairman pleaded. "At least wait to hear more about what we do."

      "I'll tell you what," Conrad answered. "I'll stay for the meeting tonight and hear what this is all about, but I also need to tell you I'm not going to be like those folks who go door to door to ask if you're saved, or whatever they do. That just turns most people off."

      "Well, that's not the way we operate," the chairman replied. He and the others talked quite some time about how to approach people who were either unchurched or who had become disenchanted with the church. The chairman asked Conrad, "Didn't you recently come back after being away from the church for a time?"

      "Yeah, I got turned off by people bugging me about whether or not I was saved," he joked. "But seriously, we used to have these wild-haired fanatics who would appear on the mall on campus and condemn us all to hell if we didn't repent right then and there."

      "No wonder you didn't want to serve on the committee," someone commented.

      "You know," the chairman said, "I don't agree with the tactics of some of those wild-haired fanatics, as you called them, but evangelism is about telling the Good News ..."

      "Which is ..." Conrad broke in.

      "Which is, basically, about Jesus and our faith," the chairman continued. "We need people like you to help with the telling. It's really not as difficult as it first appears. The thing that convinced me to serve on this committee a few years ago, and the reason I'm still on it, is something the pastor said in his sermon, and it's stuck with me ever since."

      "I'm waiting," Conrad said.

      The chairman answered, "He said that Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction. If we don't tell the news to the next generation, it's gone. History. That was enough to convince me."

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