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The Sacrament of Evangelism

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Looking Anew at Evangelism

    Review of "The Sacrament of Evangelism" by Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie I grew up in the Catholic faith tradition. I am thus acquainted with the sacredness of "sacrament" in the context of this definition: "an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace." The outward sign is visible in the ceremony or prayers said that accompany the 7 sacraments' administrations -- Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction ( Last Rites), Holy Orders, and Matrimony. All of these sacraments symbolize the grace that flows inwardly, the person of God's Spirit strengthening an individual for his life and for his roles in life. I am also a born again Christian who knows the sacredness in affirming that Christ is my Lord and Savior. I heard the title of this book long before it was published. I was immediately taken by the title as the perfect "marriage-merger" of two words, "sacrament- evangelism". They resonated deeply within me. Now, having read Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie's book, that resonating is firmly set. If I were to encapsulate the message they bring, it is about Incarnation. God, the Son ( Jesus Christ ) became flesh entering our world. He bore our sins as Savior dying on the Cross, reconciling us to our Father and our eternal Home. We are filled with His Spirit. Some of us know this experience of being in relationship with Him, having accepted Him as Lord and Savior. For those not yet aware that they are, "pregnant" if you will, with the God we know, we long to bring them the good news of such a relationship so its birth can take place. The longing in them begs to be identified for them. Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie lead their readers through a new path of recognition. "Evangelism" has a connotation among many as Christians Bible thumping and dragging others into the saving relationship with Christ through all kinds of techniques. Not so fast, these authors warn. We are to approach all whom we know or with whom we are in contact knowing their deep longing to be known and to know the living God who is already present within them. We recognize our own brokenness, even as believers. We go to God "unlike Him and receive his grace [sacrament] to be more like Him." From these points ( over and over again ) we are prepared to go out led by His Spirit into our everyday world and workplaces, noticing, engaging, waiting for seed bearing moments, and for new growth to emerge in others. We partner with the God we know. It never has to be forced. We walk the walk and talk the talk as led. Amazing grace. Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie share from their own lives and experiences in ways that encourage we readers. They do give Scriptures and tools, even warnings to be aware of as we engage yet-to-be-believers. They offer follow up directives meant to keep all of us, including new believers, encouraged and growing in our faith. It is a very readable book and helped me to relax as I recognized that, although I do not have the large platform or the same style of a Billy Graham or others when evangelizing, my life path has many a traveler with whom I will engage in the ways I am led on the platform where we meet.

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