More reflections from the Congress on Evangelism (I noticed today that the website from the event is down already).
The Bible Study speaker at the event was J. Ellsworth Kalas, whose book, Christmas from the Backside, I reviewed a couple weeks ago. I really enjoyed Kalas. If I had to sum him up in a couple of words, I would say he is charming and endearing in his manner. That doesn't say much about his content, though, does it? But he just has such an easy-going way of presenting himself and his material that he draws you in. That's what I liked about his book too.
Kalas talked about people who were "Jesus Seekers" - not those whom Jesus sought - those on the fringes, the margins - but those who sought out Jesus. He did take note that he doesn't like the term 'seeker' because of what has been done with it in worship circles in the last decade - seeker-sensitive services, how to attract seekers, etc. He said this is making the object into the subject, because we're meant to be seeking God, not seeking seekers.
Kalas identifies Nicodemus the Pharisee as the first Jesus Seeker. He notes that Nicodemus comes by night, not even sure what he is seeking, other than something of Jesus. Jesus tells him about being born from above, but Kalas notes that Nicodemus responds only using the third person, not asking "How can I be born from above?" but "How can one be born from above?" He talks about how like humans this is - we never want things in the first person singular - "I sinned." Kalas says that many people in our churches, many of the regularly-attending people, many of the people who hold leadership roles, are really seekers, people who are still looking for Jesus, and not sure if they've found him yet. "Love your Pharisees," he said.
I missed his last lecture, since I had to head home, but I enjoyed what I heard.