I was able to get a copy of Scot McKnight's new book, King Jesus Gospel over here. My initial hunch is that it might be a very helpful book at this time. I thought I would try to dawdle through it these next few weeks.
In this opening foray, Scot paints the picture of what he is addressing--American evangelism that is overwhelmingly focused on getting someone to make a decision, pray a prayer. He recounts the story of visiting a man in the days of Evangelism Explosion (we Wesleyans did the same thing with Maxwell's stuff). The key point was to get some stranger or near stranger to pray a prayer.
In the story he recounts, the deacon he is with misses all the social cues at someone's house. They have gone to the home of a one time visitor to the church. After prolonged persistence, the guy prays the prayer. They leave. The deacon celebrates--someone's been saved. The man never darkens the door of the church again.
Then Scot gets real. He figures that by conservative estimates, 50% of these decisions don't amount to much of significance afterwards. Teasing American evangelical biases, he suggests that the correlation between evangelical "decisions" and solid faith later is about the same as the correlation between Roman Catholic children baptized and significant faith later.
Here's a poignant quote: "Focusing youth events, retreats and programs on persuading people to make a decision disarms the gospel, distorts numbers, and diminishes the significance of discipleship" (20).
So it begins...