You'll have to pardon me because this is a thought only at the beginning of growth. I have no idea where these ideas come from (I'm willing to blame anyone but myself) but they rattle around in my head. I was literally driving in to work this morning when I thought:
"Why are we wasting all this time with formation and education and relationship? Seems to me that more often than not Jesus just said, 'This is what you need to do'. Period. Think about the rich young man"
Again this is a thought just a 'borning here. I just don't remember any stories of Jesus doing small groups (other than the disciples), I don't remember him doing a lot of hanging out and relating. There was a lot of "This is what you need to be doing, like it or lump it" and if memory serves a lot of folks shaking their heads and walking away.
It's the kind of evangelism that folks in the middle half (both "liberal" and "conservative" - as much as I hate those labels) of the community of faith like to criticize as being done at either extreme. Yet the thought occurred (heresy for a moderately liberal person like myself) "What if they're right? What if they're following the example of Jesus by saying 'You know what? Some things are not negotiable. It's not about us making it easy for you, it's about you getting up off your comfortable butt and just doing it."
I have to admit there are parts of that attitude that I like. Some things aren't negotiable. Jesus was (and is) Messiah. That God exists. That we are the beloved of that God. And that God has expectations. That's a real simplification. The best summary of what I think of as ground zero was written by Mike Yaconnelli. If you click on the title of this entry it'll take you to it. I have a copy of it hanging in my office.
There's still the nagging question that I have to wrestle with - how much easing of the way do we need to do for new believers? How much of it is just "Take it or leave it"? And how do we find the balance that leaves us living out our evangelism in a loving, Christ-like manner?
That's what I get for thinking in my car.