Moving beyond conversionism
Many Christians today are uncomfortable with older, simpler notions about evangelism as conversionism but see as insufficient the more progressive model of evangelism as hospitality. Transcending that dichotomy, Richard Osmer advances a theology of evangelism as a multifaceted act of invitation into Christ-following community.
Osmer begins by exploring references to evangelism in the New Testament--both in the Gospels and in the letters of Paul. He then enters into dialogue with Karl Barth to work through ideas of church witness and the relationship of evangelism to salvation. Finally, with lucid explanations and illustrative case studies, he offers guidance for pastors, laity, and students to use as they reimagine how evangelism might best happen in their churches and missional organizations. Osmer's approach mirrors the conviction, stated in his introduction, that our concept of evangelism must be formed and constantly reformed by keeping the Bible, church doctrine, and practical theology in conversation.
Foundational to Osmer's rendering of evangelism as invitation is the essential truth that it is Christ and the Holy Spirit who calls converts and makes disciples--not Christians. Thus, we can invite our neighbors to the wedding feast while remaining reassured that the table is already set.