The Half-Life of an Evangelism Gadget or Method

399999-2475-54Half-life (t½) is the time required for a quantity to fall to half its value as measured at the beginning of the time period.  When it comes to evangelism gadgetry or methodology, it suffers the same exponential decay.  I’ve seen all the gadgets and all the methods.  I’ve seen them used and abused.  I’ve seen the initial wow effect and the minimal long-term impact. 

I do understand the need for confidence in proclaiming the gospel.  I also understand the need to have a system in place to prevent the gospel stutter.  The problem comes when those we’re trying to transmit the gospel to, unwind our presentation.  We’re often left looking weak and worse ignorant of the good news itself.  Not only is the gospel emptied of its power, but the very tools or methods we use as a delivery system also suffer impact decay.  

So, if this theory of mine holds true, what can we do to prevent an incorrect, incomplete, and inept gospel message? 

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    1. There is actually a very simple explanation for this

      Does the “Wow factor” in the beginning testify that it works, or does the lack of long-term impact testify that it doesn’t? The obvious answer is–both. The answer lies in the fact that any particular method has one purpose, and one purpose only, and that purpose is NOT “to get souls saved”. The purpose of these programs is to get the Christian “out there” amongst the people, and get them over their fear of approaching folks with the gospel message. God can, and does USE these programs for that purpose, and that’s why the “Wow Factor” is achieved at first. God is obviously willing to use this program FOR it’s intended purpose.

      However, once this is achieved, the “new evangelist” is then expected, by God, just as in our daily life, to maintain communication directly with Him and “wing it” from there. This is where most get stuck. God has a different message, ministry, and miracle for every person that no program can possibly cover. It’s when people refuse to realize this, and insist on “sticking to the program” that things start to go downhill.

      God made us for two things. Relationship with Him, and relationship with each other. When people try to turn either one of those into a program, it just doesn’t work, and God shuts down the effectiveness of the program in order to try to get us back to the spirit, or point of the thing, which is RE-LA-TION-SHIP!

    2. The scientist in me is intrigued. Is there measurable data to establish the exponential shape of the curve? Is the underlying mechanism understood? What is the duration of the half-life…some radiation has a half life of decades or centuries!
      It would be interesting for you to list out some of these gadgets…I’ve probably felt a failure with most of them because they didn’t work.

    3. For many years, preaching was licensed in a human effort to manage the methodology (and some of the gadgetry).
      even a half life of 50 million years would still be the way of death; a slow death.
      so many today are proclaiming a gospel that is not known by them, or is not known by Christ; proclamation without power; whether flashy or cuddly, without His Life.

    4. This is what happens when the tool or method becomes the focus rather than the result. A lesson that the bodybuilding community has learned over the decades might be instructive for us. Those of us who have spent a great deal of time in the gym over the years (for sweat, pain, and growth as opposed to socialization) have all reached plateaus where perfectly good routines and hard work no longer result in gains.

      Our unresurrected and unglorified bodies seek equilibrium to cope with stimulus. In other words, the body hates to grow and will find ways to accept and normalize the impact of activity.

      Enter the principle of muscle confusion. Periodically, the athlete must change the routine (different exercises, rep counts, set number, exercise order, etc…) to give the body a different equilibrium target.

      Church history shows a similar pattern. Times of difficulty result in great growth (first in the falling away of the surface believers, then in the spiritual depth of the authentic believers, then in the adding to the numbers of the body). Times of difficulty are followed by times of rest/recuperation, then times of equilibrium which leads to eras of plateau and slow decline. The book of Judges chronicles similar cycles.

      The issue, then, is do we wait until times of calamity or do we change up the order to bring muscle confusion prior to the calamity? We’ve been “doing church” the same way for so long in the West that we think there is no other way to do it. At the same time, we complain (or explain away) our current results.

      Might we learn something from how God created our human bodies that might help us strengthen our ecclesiastical bodies?

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