The “Evangelical” Label

Warning: Rant Ahead

I answered a telephone survey yesterday for pastors. There were the standard questions about the size of my congregation, the percentage of adults in leadership, and others. However, towards the end of the survey, they started asking demographic questions, designed to put labels on me (to be charitable, I’m assuming that this is to give context to my answers, but that might not be the case at all.)

And the question came up: Are you an Evangelical?

Since I couldn’t see the text of the question, I didn’t know if the survey was asking if I was a member of the Captial E Evangelical Movement, or if I was a small-letter e evangelical. I had to take a few moments, and assume if they were asking if I was Captital E – to which I replied, “no, not anymore”.

The next question: Are you Mainline?

Well, I’m not nuts about label either! After a few moments, I answered, “yes.” And then I said, “Wait, are those the only two choices?”

I was telling my family about the phone survey, and my 16 year old daughter asked, “What *is* an Evangelical?”

My reply – and the reason I’m writing this blog entry – is worth some reflection on my part, and perhaps will be valuable for some of my readers.

I said:
“A Capital E Evangelical believes that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore is so concerned about people’s souls that they’re willing to try and influence culture as a whole in order to bring people to Jesus. That means that they’ll try to pass laws to regulate the behavior of people who are not yet followers of Jesus to *act as if they were*. In doing so, they try to make their surrounding culture SIMILAR to the Kingdom of God, without actually being a part of it.”

“Small-e evangelicals also believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore, try to introduce people to Jesus directly. They’re not about changing the culture; they’re about introducing people to Jesus, so that HE can change their hearts.”

“I’m not an Evangelical; I don’t want to change the culture to be more Christian-LIKE. I’m an evangelist: I just want people to come to Jesus, and I think it’s the work of individual followers of Jesus to introduce their friends and neighbors to Him.”

That’s part of the work of the church; to encourage those in the Kingdom of God to live and laugh and love so well that the outside world looks on in wonder at the changed hearts of those who follow Christ.

So – apparently, I’ve outed myself. I am no longer an Evangelical… but I’m more of an evangelist now than I ever was.

If this has sparked a question in you about *your* relationship with Christ, and has caused you to wonder where you stand with God, I’d love to talk with you about it. Leave a comment, message me, give me a phone call, or show up at Warden Community Church. I’d love to sit and talk with you over a good cup of coffee and an open Bible…

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