It’s been a while since I looked at this: What About Jesus?, an evangelistic website run by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).
It appears to have undergone a revamp quite recently – lots of gradients and curved boxes, an attractive colour-scheme – and is now a very slick and impressive site. It puts Jesus centre-stage, and it is largely “cringe-free”.
If I wanted to pick holes – which I obviously do, since that’s what I’m about to do 😉 – I’d say it’s a bit “generic evangelical”, lacking a distinctively Lutheran approach. For example, you’ll look long and hard to find a reference to baptism on there (I’ve yet to find any mention).
But at least this is a confessional Lutheran church that is making a real effort to provide attractive, professional materials aimed at non-believers, and that is making a pretty good go of it. It certainly beats the efforts of the LCMS or the ELS’s Learn About Jesus site, both of which are, frankly, pretty awful. Then there’s the material on the ELCE site that’s aimed at non-Christians.
The Wittenberg Trail has some good material on it, but is aimed squarely at Christians from other traditions. There is a place for commending the teachings of “Augsburg evangelicalism” to those from other traditions – because we believe those teachings to be both true and immensely comforting and helpful – but what I’m talking about here is material intended for those who know little or nothing of Christ.
Overall, Lutherans don’t seem to shine at evangelism (I aim that criticism at myself, the world’s most moribund congregational Chair of Evangelism, as much as anybody else), and this is reflected in the dearth of good-quality web-based evangelistic materials on offer. We seem to be better at commending our understanding of the gospel to those who already believe in Christ (see, for example, Gene Veith’s superb book The Spirituality of the Cross).
Certainly we don’t have anything to match Matthias Media’s Two Ways to Live presentation. While 2WTL has some flaws that make it difficult for a Lutheran to use with complete comfort, its great strength (as Don Carson has pointed out) is in presenting the gospel in terms of the biblical narrative as a whole, rather than just as a set of propositions. It provides a simple outline which can then become the framework for a much deeper understanding of the Christian faith.
That’s the sort of material it seems to me we need to be providing: a sort of “Augsburg evangelism” as part of the mission of “Augsburg evangelicalism”.