Thursday, July 07, 2011

About Evangelism

As usual, while I wasn't being sarcastic about my first line in yesterday's post about Jehovah's Witnesses- I really do enjoy having conversations with them when they knock- a good portion of my post was a little tongue-in-cheek, as many of my posts are.  Unfortunately, that doesn't always translate well to everyone. (That said, I refuse to ever start taking myself any more seriously than I do. I have a feeling that'll be a helpful defense mechanism over the next three years as I navigate seminary.)  I had a reader/commenter who was a bit upset by the post.  Basically the gyst was (I deleted the comment because it broke the "no playground sand throwing" rule for comments on my blog) that I'm lazy for sitting on my couch waiting around for people to show up on my porch to be witnessed to.  Oh, and I'm smug.

I apologize if I said anything at any point that sounded like I don't believe Christians are to evangelize. That is not the case.  The Bible is VERY clear that we are to share our faith as often as possible.  I am very open about my faith with those who will listen and cherish opportunities to share my story, because God has certainly done some amazing things in my life.  I fully believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only way to salvation is through Him because of the sacrifice He made.  I have recently read both Love Wins and Erasing Hell because I believe that Hell is real and that I surely don't want to see anyone headed there.  I want to know what I'm talking about when I start delving into that territory of conversation with someone.  And I want to know what people out there are saying about it.  (No. . . I don't read only Christian books, either- just for the record.)

I have gone door to door inviting people to church.  I have done street evangelism in the suburbs and in the inner city and it is HARD.  That was my point when I mentioned being met with such hostility.  My point wasn't that we should avoid hostility, but rather that we should be sensitive to others who are experiencing it.  And that we should remember that we'll generally be able to share more with people we have a previous relationship with.  Yes, that relationship and trust has to start somewhere.  I get that.  And the work is worth it if even one person decides to show up at church the next week.  But the bulk of Gospel sharing and discipleship does not happen on the street.

Walking up to someone you don't know and saying you want to talk religion is hard, especially when you're walking onto someone's home turf to do it. That's why I want to make a point to offer a drink or snack.  That's why I want to take the time to talk.  It has nothing to do with being smug or feeling "holier than thou."  I do truly believe that we as Christians are to witness to everyone. . . even the Jehovah's Witnesses who most people hide from or play pranks on.  I believe that we are to be kind to everyone- even those most people avoid.

As for the email. . . it's not really all that related to any of that.  Well, it is kind of related.  It's related in that in the book I referenced in the email, the person who was replied to had that same kind of response as most evangelists who show up on your door that get anything other than "I'll be there!" or a slammed door.  It's just an unexpected response.  They didn't expect someone to do anything other than report the email for spam or buy the product.  The lovely gentleman at my door the other day expected me to either ignore the knock or tell him I'd be there at the event (whether I really would be or not).  What he didn't expect was a glass of water and a story about the miracle of my son.

Maybe we should try to be more kind to those of differing beliefs from our own.
Maybe we should try to take it all a little less personally and let God remain in control of it.
Maybe we should take the time to listen to the Holy Spirit about what and when to speak.
Maybe we should remember that while we are all called to be open with our faith, everyone has different gifts.
Maybe we should remember that this is a hurting world and we'd get alot more accomplished if we'd work together.

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