I have been bothered for a long time about how the Gospel is presented and conceived in the institutional church. Be it, the four spiritual laws, evangelism explosion, or whatever method is used, canned gospel presentations suffer from a very limited, convergent thought.
Convergent thought is characterized by focus on one aspect of a problem and gathering peripheral resources to “prove” a solution the the problem. For the contemporary gospel presentation, this focuses on sin and the solution of its ultimate effect – hell. It points to a single “correct” answer. So many of the evangelistic teachings focus on hell and salvation from it. While this is true and the presentations aren’t false, they don’t provide the whole truth. It also has a limited appeal to anyone who hasn’t recognized the problems of depravity.
Divergent thinking would open up the gospel to a less vague, more profound “good news.” In divergent thought, ideas don’t converge on the central idea. Instead it moves outward from the problem and has many perceived effects and answers. A divergent gospel focuses on the problem of sin, but then moves outward and sees many solutions.
Now before someone accuses me of accepting anything other than Christ’s atonement for sin, hear me out. That isn’t wat I am saying. Instead, I am saying that the effect of the gospel is more than just salvation from hell. The good news is that, yes we won’t go to hell, but also that we enter a process of being redeemed from it now.
The problem with canned evangelism is that it doesn’t bring fluency. Fluency acknowledges the many possible ways that we are saved from sin. Sure, we have this one ultimate solution, but we have many others as well. Jesus often confronted individuals in the place he found them. The woman at the well, the adulterer, even groups like the pharisees were confronted on their individual problems with sin. It showed a personal solution to each of them according to their need.
The next time you have a chance to share some good news, remember that there is a personal story for each person. They need to see how Jesus frees them from their specific problem of sin as well as their ultimate problem.