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Archive for April, 2007
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Quit Inviting People to Church
For many years I used the same illustration when it came to my approach to witnessing. It was a story about waking my grandpa up in the middle of the night by waving a flashlight in his face. My point was that he did not respond very well to my method of awakening him and that if I wanted to wake him out of his spiritual slumber, I should gently whisper and pat him on the back. Similarly, my approach to sharing my faith was very non-confrontational; it was a relational approach. Getting to know as many people as possible and building relationships without verbally sharing the good news because they would see it in my life and how I treated them and others. This approach would be perfect for anyone running for mayor in town, but not for someone telling others what Jesus did on the cross for them and warning them of a judgment to come.
My approach of building relationships as a form of evangelism was resting on the fact that tomorrow is guaranteed. I cannot guarantee tomorrow. Tomorrow could be the end of my life, their life, or the world. Only God knows what tomorrow holds. Thinking that tomorrow is guaranteed is like playing God. That is not my place.
Having a sense of urgency with the good news has left the church because of its lackadaisical approach, believing that tomorrow is guaranteed. Church goers have been convinced that evangelism means inviting people to church. I would say quit inviting people to church and share the good news with passion, one on one. Churches are trying every shortcut possible when it comes to evangelism and are attempting to mass produce converts. Churches offer event after event and plead with the congregation to bring their neighbors for the chance that they may hear the gospel.
This past Christmas my family attended a musical at a church that featured live animals, professional quality lights and sound and high quality singers and musicians. It was top notch family entertainment. At the end of the performance, the pastor made a plea with every head down and every eye closed, for those that hadn’t accepted Jesus to raise their hand. Then they closed the prayer and told those that had made a decision for Christ to mark the salvation box on the visitor card. That was it. Everyone left. This is really what outreach/evangelism looks like today in the modern church. Events that draw a crowd and then slip Jesus in at the end to try to get a response. “Go unto all the world and get responses.” No, the bible says “…preach the gospel” just like Paul and John the Baptist and all of the early followers.
I think we can see that evangelism has taken all types of different shapes inside the church. We peg basketball leagues, egg hunts, musicals, food pantries, thrift stores, concerts and other events or activities as evangelism to give them validation. All of the above are fine, but they are not evangelism.
Why would the bible say that the harvest is ripe and the workers are few? Because there are only a few that are truly saved and are preaching the true gospel. Evangelism does not fit into your schedule and opportunities can come at any time. Christians can’t buy into this beat round the bush witnessing mentality. That’s like a doctor only telling you the name of the disease you have but not the deadly effects of the disease. Evangelism is a dirty job; it takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes your belief that Jesus is the only way. Believers are always dialoguing about eternal things because a person’s greatest need is repenting before Christ. That’s more important than the hunger pains in their stomach, the bills they have or their health condition. To love someone is to tell them the truth and the truth is that people need to repent for their sin. Jesus is not a life enhancement, He is life saving.
My grandpa wouldn’t mind me waking him up with a flashlight if the house was on fire, and I wouldn’t care one bit about his reaction if that was the case. He may not believe the house is on fire but I’m not concerned with what he believes, I’m exposing him to the truth. My job is to preach the gospel and the Holy Spirit does the rest.
Evangelism is a believer’s zeal for the lost, causing one to focus on the most important issue in life – repentance – more than anything else, not caring about the reaction or consequences of the truth being told.
Let’s take advantage of today with every opportunity to preach the gospel like there is no tomorrow.
Mark 15:16 – And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.
Next week, my oldest child will turn 14. Hard to believe! Here’s his progression over the last 7 years: