Strider at “Tales from Middle Earth” is one of the best storytellers that I know. I always enjoy his blog posts, and I enjoyed meeting him a few months ago. His latest post is called “A missional paradigm“.
He begins his post like this:
So, here is a story of a significant paradigm shift in my ministry understanding. It concerns the idea of ‘extraction evangelism’. Now, this may not be a concept that many of you know or understand. Extraction evangelism is really just normal evangelism, it is the kind that usually happens unless something intentional is done to stop it. What it means is that a lost person living in a lost community gets saved. Someone shares Jesus with that person and that person leaves his/her lost community and joins the community of the redeemed- usually that means they start meeting with a group of Christians whom they previously did not know. The group rejoices because this person has found Jesus and is no longer lost and their Church has now increased in size signifying God’s blessing on the group.
Now, this model is very problematic in a Muslim society such as the one I live in here in Gondor. First, very often there are no Churches for individuals to join! Second, the individual’s community does not usually give that person up without a fight. Family and community persecution are very common here even though technically the Government of Gondor claims to provide for freedom of religion. But the biggest problem is that once a person leaves their community to join a Christian community then that lost community is left without a witness and is now more resistant to the Gospel than ever. For all these reasons we have tried from the beginning of our ministry here to avoid extraction evangelism.
From this point, Strider tells a story about a co-worker who tries to encourage locals to consider evangelizing entire families.
This post helped me think through some of the things that we’ve been trying to do in a government assisted housing development. We’ve been spending time in this neighborhood for more than six months now, and we’ve gotten to know many of the neighbors very well.
We’re not trying to “extract” them from their environment. Instead, we’re attempting to insert ourselves and other believers into a community that already exists. There are already relationships there. We don’t want to destroy those relationships. Instead, we hope to see those relationships transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have any of you had experiences with either “extraction evangelism” or “insertion evangelism”?