Todd Hunter's Visit

Recently Todd Hunter came and shared with our church. Todd and I go back a long way. It was so refreshing to see how he treated our little church like it was 3,000 people. As to the content, it really was powerful and thought-provoking. There is no doubt that things have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades; the environment in which we seek to communicate the Gospel is more challenging than ever. All the things that we took for granted years ago, people believing in God, believing the Bible is the Word of God, believing Jesus was the Son of God are no longer viewed in the same way. As the song says, “Well that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.”

I became a Christian long ago and witnessing was a big part of our agenda. I would walk up to complete strangers at the beach or parks and witness to them, many times praying with them. It was easy compared to today; back then it was like fishing at a trout farm. To gain a fuller understanding of some of the changes that have taken place, I will direct you to a couple friends of mine, Jason Clarke ( or Todd Hunter ( They will help you increase your understanding of where things are today.

Today when you talk to someone about God, they want to know which ‘god’ you are speaking of.
They may point to a telephone pole and tell you that's their god or higher power. It’s one of the effects of pluralism, the melding together of diverse cultures and their systems of belief. If we are to gain respect of others, there is no lecturing them, or dismissing their belief systems. Evangelicals have been guilty of this sort of attitude and have been resoundingly rejected by our culture. We need to be ready to listen to them and answer their questions. Todd referred to a book, The Fall of an Evangelical Nation, by Christine Wicker, part of which lays out the attitude toward Evangelicals in America; it is not a pretty picture. They don't like us and they don't want to hear from us on Larry King Live lecturing them and telling them what they are doing wrong. Years ago when the evangelical talking heads began to appear on television news programs, I would cringe. I didn't want them speaking for me. I didn't want to be identified with their smug and condescending manner, but nonetheless, we have been. You and I have been lumped together, and we have a lot to overcome if we seek to communicate the gospel in this new atmosphere. I'm not sure if Todd was quoting someone else or this came directly from him, when he said, 'many people feel we won.....but we lost' and I think it's true; we broke onto the national scene and proceeded to come off arrogant, the purveyors of all that is true. One of the problems was the Christ that was expressed was affiliated with one particular political party. Let’s face it, it’s as if Jesus was a Republican. After a disaster these people would appear on the television screen and do what I call reverse prophecy. That is to say, in the aftermath of such an occurrence, they would let the world know why it happened, for the most part because of the sin of a particular city, state or country. What city, state or country where a natural catastrophe happens is going to be free of sin? I think these voices would be much more credible if they tell us before something happens, when, where and way, and how, then it people might listen. But to come out in the aftermath of some disaster and appear to be pleased that ‘they’ got what they deserved, is so disheartening and so unlike the heart of Christ, in my opinion.

So we, evangelical Christians, got the visibility we wanted and we blew it. For the most part we, and yes, I say we, because people in general see Christians through the images they have seen on television. Of course they also have formed their opinions from knowing and interacting with Christians in day to day life. They appear to have a difficult time with the fact that in many cases we don’t walk what we talk.

But even with these negative view points held by a large percentage of people in our society, there is another study that indicates that these same people, who have a negative view of evangelical Christian, would be open to and willing to have a discussion or dialogue with a Christian; a dialogue that would not have their belief system ignored and glossed over while we wait for our chance to 'preach the gospel' to them. If we communicate in ways that they don't understand, what good does that do? Are we afraid to listen, to look at things from a different perspective? Could we be afraid that our faith may be influenced? Or is it that we just aren't interested in people. If that’s the case, I think people will pick up on that. Todd used a phrase, 'Anchored to the rock and geared for our times’. It's not a matter of abandoning our beliefs at all; it is learning the language so we can clearly communicate the message we have and have it be understood. At that point a person may still reject it, but at least they understood what you were saying.

One of the other things that Todd pointed out was regarding the way we see people. Do we really care about that person? Do we really want to understand what they believe? Are we even willing to take the time to listen and understand them? Do we care about them because they are created in the image of God, or do they represent another scalp on our belt? I am really not trying to be cynical here. I am just reacting to what I have seen and known to be true.

What Todd did was put it into a context so it is more clearly seen. Is the goal to communicate or simply preach? One of the examples Todd gave was of a person having a favorite spot they fish in, but because conditions change, the fish relocate, yet the fisherman is unyielding and stays in the same place waiting for the fish to come back to where he is. I wonder sometimes if we lose sight of the goal. John Wimber used to talk about 'doing what the Father was doing' in reference to Jesus ministry model. Jesus said he was on his Father’s business and that he restricted himself to do only what the Father is doing. I'm always asking myself what the Father is doing in any situation and if I need to be on standby. Other than that, I try to love people because God does. How can we not love what we believe God created?

So the weekend with Todd was stimulating and thought-provoking. I think it helped us see the current picture more clearly, and we were certainly struck by the challenges we face today in making Christ known to the world in which we live.