Gittins sighted Academically Adrift, in which Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa argue that over a third of America's students show "no improvement in critical thinking or analytical reasoning after four years in college.'' (www.smh.com.au)
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson explained that the Ross Gittins' article bought to bear in his thinking a different question – how many of the very successful business people had had the "get-up-and-go" and put to good use their academic credentials to create, produce and market and so - fulfil the American / Australian dream?
Business people, across the globe, regardless of nationality, have been given from birth in good measure a 'get-up-and-go' mentality. They also developed their critical thinking and analytical reasoning through educational opportunities and experience, and have made things happen very successfully in business.
We also recognise that there are a smattering of people who have a natural inclination towards these matters, but in reality, they are the exception. Entrepreneurial attitudes are one thing, but with critical thinking and analytical reasoning, the sky is the limit. Nevertheless, we also realise there are down turns in the economy such as 2008-09 GFC which caught most by surprise.
Many young people are finding their feet
As a long time member of Chambers' of Commerce Mark Tronson has noted the many young people, for example, in the world of IT, have further developed the skills of soft ware, as well as establishing thriving businesses. Business success is not limited to those with many years of experience.
Other young people have travelled and worked overseas within a particular commercial or industrial setting, have made good by their own determination and opportunities. Many are away from Australia for anything up to ten years, and return to slot in somewhere much nearer the top, had they not taken such opportunities.
Moreover, those designated the most unlikeliest to succeed, are those who all very often do, sometimes, beyond anyone's wildest imaginations.
Does Christian Evangelism function on these same principles?
Does Christian Evangelism function on these same principles or is there some other ingredient? In other words, does the 'get-up-and-go' combined with 'critical thinking and analytical reasoning', produce great evangelism?
The Billy Graham Crusades for example, were highly organised and carefully prepared and no doubt its administration was on-par with any business enterprise. So too, we might concur that the same principles apply to the evangelism programs of the mega-churches, although there are some recent notable exceptions such as Crystal Cathedral, to name but one.
In Christian theology however, there appears to be two other ingredients. The first is obvious, the Spirit of God. Christian evangelism "without the Spirit of Christ" is not true and is far from lasting evangelism. All the business skills in the world will not produce a transformed heart, this only comes from the Holy Spirit.
John 3 specifies this when Jesus says one must be born-again. This is a spiritual birth.
The second, as evidenced time and again in the New Testament, is the personalities of the evangelists and how God was able to use a willing heart for His purposes in evangelism. Likewise Christian men and women today with a heartfelt passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and with total faith in God, have an influential voice into the hearts of men and women.
The Apostle Paul in Romans 10 verse 15 says "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace who bring glad tiding of good things."
It is here that the Holy Spirit, seeks out a man or woman whose heart will be fully His, and this it appears is a determining factor in evangelism.
The Holy Spirit and the human experience
Mark Tronson earned a Diploma of Ministry, a Theological degree, won two academic prizes, then an Honours year, and over a twelve year period, worked on those two doctoral dissertations, one concluding in 1986, another concluding in 1992, while developing the Sports and Leisure Ministry from 1982 to 2000. Yet, he says that he believes his greatest insights in 'practical ministry' come from his 10 years as a locomotive engineman on the New South Wales Government Railways (1968-77).
It is here where that he learned the true art of conversation, integrity, mateship, life skills and above all, sound practical theology. It has often been said by others that his greatest asset in ministry is that he still speaks as if he were a train driver. Mark Tronson served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years, written 24 books and developed Respite facilities for elite athletes, cricketers and missionaries.
But even before he initiated the Sports Ministry in 1982, this Holy Spirit and the human experience was in evidence. Very recently the Reverend Les Gaulton the Anglican Archdeacon of the Pilbara wrote to Mark Tronson of his ministry in 1981:
"I just received the attached (Laguna Quays Respite for Missionaries and Churches) from BCA head office. What a blast from the past. And what a fantastic idea. I doubt that you remember us, but you had a huge impact on our moving into full time ministry. We were at Silverdale, struggling to hold together a small branch of the Anglican Church in Mulgoa when you were at Warragamba. We used to come to your service for some Biblical input and encouragement, I can't remember for how long but it was very important to us at the time. Thank you for your ministry to us so many years ago (sorry it's a bit late)."
To answer the initial question
To answer the initial question therefore, 'are there parallels' between 'get-up-and-go' business skills and Christian evangelism, - the answer is very much so.
But Christian evangelism requires an additional 'something', that is the Holy Spirit and the human experience ingredient, and this is gift from the Lord. It can neither be bought, learnt nor sold. It is an issue of faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sin and rose again the third day.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html