about us | contact | for sale<  - congregations


A Prophetic Evangelistic Model  

"Only by starting in the periphery, or working from the bottom up, can the good news of God's kingdom be vividly demonstrated and credibly announced as a message of liberation, justice and peace. It is when the gospel makes 'somebody' out of the 'nobodies' of society, when it restores the self-worth of the marginated, when it enables the oppressed to have a reason for hope, when it empowers the poor to struggle and suffer for liberation and peace, that it is truly good news of a new order of life - the saving power of God (Rom 1:16). When evangelism begins in the center, working from the top down, its content ends up being an easy and cheap accommodation to the vested interests of the powerful and well-to-do. Indeed, evangelism turns out to be reductionistic since it truncates the content of the gospel gy making it a privatistic white-wash, manipulated to soothe the conscience of those who by virtue of their 'central' position control, economically, socially, politically and culturally, the destiny of the people in the fringes of society. Hence an evangelism that is geared in the first place to the 'elite' of society will most likely end up being absorbed by their system. 

Evangelism can only be prophetic, and thus liberating, if it has a communal base, a basic witnessing community. Such a base can only be built from the periphery, from outside the centers of power. Since the gospel seeks to set men and women free from all godless, de-humanizing, alienating and therefore, oppressive forces for the service of God's kingdom of justice and peace, enabling them to live freely and lovingly for God and human kind, it follows that evangelism should be able to challenge and transform such centralized absolutist power-systems. The only way it can achieve this end is by building, as Jesus did, a sound base in the periphery, i.e., a community of lame, lepers, blind, poor and ignorant people transformed by the saving power of God's Messiah. ...(17)

The contextual evangelistic approach of Jesus and its socio-historical grounding in Galilee implies, secondly, that evangelism is by its very nature public. ...(18)

To evangelize the multitudes is to announce the glad news of God's action in Jesus Christ to change radically the frail, unjust and death prone patterns of human existence by bring into being a new world order. Such an announcement cannot but be public. To keep it private, announcing it to a select few, is to deny the very content of the gospel. ... When the multitudes are evangelized everybody hears about it: the press, government authorities, the business community, the religious leadership, the army, the comfortable and secure individuals ... Very often these various institutional and personal groupings become irritated and threatened, joining forces as a sort of 'counter-multitude,' to quench the hope ... as they hear the gospel. This in fact is what happened in the case of the crowds of Jerusalem that called for the crucifixion of Jesus. ...(19)

If we take jesus' Galilean evangelistic model seriously, our evangelistic practice will never be the same. For we will be forced to ask, where is our base, who is our target-audience and what is the scope of our evangelistic praxis? And when we start asking such questions in earnest and in the light of Jesus' own ministry, we are challenged to either conform our evangelistic witness to his model or close shop and go home. May we be led to follow in his steps!"

Oriando E. Costas in Voces: Voices from the Hispanic Church edited by Justo L. Gonzalez, Abington, 1992. Costas was former dDean of Andover Newton Theological School.


Return to Homepage

  CSCO, P.O. Box 60123, Dayton, OH 45406; email: cscocbco@charter.net phone: 937-276-4077