As I talked about in my last post, I recently attended a conference where Scot McKnight was the keynote speaker. He is a college prof who has become interested in the phenomenon of “delayed adolescence” or “emerging adulthood”  (depending on who you talk to). Basically, he is interested in the twenty to thirty somethings who, he says, have been raised on a steady diet of Self Esteem. Therefore, they believe the world revolves around them. But this is not, he stresses, about selfishness. It is, rather, a generation that has been told, over and over, that they can be whatever they want to be, do whatever they want to do, marry a soul mate… what McKnight describes as a “generation in a castle”. So how do you think this generation is responding to the traditional sin-salvation gospel message? Yeah. McKnight makes the bold statement that “the gospel being preached is not interesting to this age group.”

I can hear the murmurs… The gospel is the gospel. You can’t just change the message because the audience doesn’t like it. Jesus came to save sinners. Period.

Okay. It’s uncomfortable, I know.

What I hear McKnight (and others) saying is not so much that we need to change the gospel, but that we need to “reclaim the fulness of the gospel” and that we need a “robust” gospel. According to McKnight, we need to rediscover the Kingdom Vision of Jesus, which will lead to a NEW understanding of evangelism. Here are his Ten Themes Leading to a New Evangelism:

1. Heaven. The motivation in the past has been to go to heaven. A new approach is to think of heaven as coming to earth. “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.” Thinking of the Kingdom as, in a way, heaven on earth, sanctifies what we do now. It leads to a holiness about the tasks we involve ourselves in here. It’s not all about the future.

2. Sin. It’s bigger than just offending God’s law. It is a violation of our relationship to God, self, others, the world. Salvation is more than “getting right with God”. It’s bigger.  It’s reconciliation in a larger sense.

3. Mission of God. The new question is… what is God doing in this world that I can be a part of? I want to participate. I want to be part of the redemptive work of God.

4. Conversion. Is it about making decisions or making disciples? It is more than a single-point-in-time decision. It is ongoing. It includes decisions but is a process.

5. Gospel. Traditionally, Paul’s voice has been the voice heard “at the table”. Jesus’ voice needs to be heard as well. Jesus also preached the gospel, in Kingdom terms. So, according to McKnight, we are “gospelized”  to “missionize”, that is, to bring heaven to earth.

6. The Bible as Story. The Bible is not a puzzle. It is a story, from beginning to end.

7. Kingdom. If asked the question, “Why do you think Jesus came to earth?”, most people would answer, “To die on the cross so I could be saved and go to heaven”. But Jesus, in his own words, said that he came to “bring the Kingdom of God”, and he died to make that happen.

8. Justice. There is a renewed sense of responsibility or interest in justice…the poor, economics, peace. People want to hear about a gospel that makes a difference here on earth.

9. Israel, Kingdom, Church. The Bible is about more than God and me. God cares about other things. He is at work in other things.

10. Jesus. People today say they like Jesus but are not interested in the church. Jesus matters. People care about him. they are interested in what he had to say. Telling the story of Jesus is really all we have to offer people.

Lots to chew on. I’m still chewing, myself. A robust gospel. I like that.