Continued from Part 3: ~ Key factors that have shaped who I am and what I believe ~
- Mission/Evangelism: The manner in which we ourselves come to faith, will deeply affect the way we do mission/evangelism for years. Growing up in the church, I observed the Southern Baptist evangelistic traditions of giving the invitation after the message to walk down the aisle, praying the prayer, “accepting Jesus as Savior,” signing the card, getting baptized, etc. I had “prayed the prayer” many times and was baptized at age thirteen; yet, no fruitful change occurred within me. Being immersed in these such methods did nothing less than damage my “evangelistic” perspective. Early on as a new believer, I would share the Gospel with others, and expect big change in them after they prayed to “receive Christ.” A few years have passed, and I am critically rethinking these and other methods, while also praying for open doors for the Gospel via a more relational approach.
- Engaging Culture: After about a decade of studying theology, I am realizing more and more that despite what some theologians might say about the near irrelevance of culture in relation to the preaching/teaching/spreading of the Gospel, everyone we speak to and share life with is culture-saturated. We eat, drink, breathe, and create culture. So, anyone who wants to be mindful of his or her neighbor (locally and globally) must seek to learn how to engage with and enculturate oneself (in some degree) in that neighbor’s culture for their sake and the Gospel’s. My missions professor began helping me think through these things in his courses on Intro to World Missions and Intercultural Communication.
- Trinity in Perspective: Especially since my Trinitarianism class in Fall ’09, has the infinite and practical importance of the Trinity affected my view of everyday life and church practice. The Triune God who is Being in Communion, has made us in his own image. As his image bearers, we are to reflect him by being in community on mission together for the Gospel of Christ. Other practical implications of the Trinity in everyday life and practice can be manifested in marriage, family, the arts, society, and more. In regards to the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, I have been in traditions on both sides of the spectrum: Baptist/Presbyterian, where the Holy Spirit is happily acknowledged, yet (often) sorely experienced; and Pentecostal, where the Holy Spirit is supposedly experienced, yet (often) without strong doctrinal backing.