Thursday, January 10, 2008

Awkward Evangelism

The other day I was reading La Shawn Barber's blog and stumbled upon this piece about evangelism. I found it very interesting, and it raised a lot of questions about the emphasis that I put on evangelism in my Christian experience. Needless to say, I find straight-up evangelism a little awkward and difficult. So do most Christians my age, it seems. The Campus Crusade conference I attended was full of seminars on how to evangelize. They gave us tons of tips, tricks, and icebreakers to use, but in the end it all seemed too complicated for me. I've always felt that evangelism, like other aspects of Christianity, should be relatively simple when you get down to it.

But evangelism isn't simple, at least not for me. It's hard to share the Gospel with unbelievers, especially if they are friends. Some people will smile politely and tell you how flattered they are that you care about them, but then will say they think you're wrong. Others won't even be polite, but will get downright offended. Honestly, it's hard dealing with that kind of rejection. For a Christian, the Gospel is a part of you, and when someone rejects it, it's not hard to take it personally.

I think a lot of Christian kids look for "easy" ways to deliver the Gospel, in an attempt to share it truthfully but without people getting offended. I'm not sure there is such a method, though. Aside from that, they can get a little too caught up in wanting to see the fruits of their work immediately. Sure, it's great (and not too difficult) to say, "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners." A lot of people will believe that, actually, but will they take it to heart? Will they ask Him into their hearts? Will they be saved? Will they start going to church and getting involved? Will they start spreading the Gospel themselves?

Those kinds of questions can be difficult. I think if one thing has bothered me more than my own assurance, it's the assurance of people I know and love. Simply put, there are many people that I don't want to be missing from Heaven, and I can get too caught up with whether or not they are saved that I don't focus on my own salvation enough.

Later on in her post, Ms. Barber made this remark, which I liked: There is no such thing as failed evangelism. If we don’t “win the soul” of the person we’re sharing the Gospel with at a given moment, we have not failed. It’s God’s business who he saves.

This is very true, and I suppose I have to remember that just because I never see a person come to Christ, that doesn't mean they never will. Like I said, some Christians I know have a problem, in that they share the Gospel once and then then throw their hands up in the air if they don’t see immediate results. Sometimes, I suppose, our evangelism is just a small link in a chain of Christ’s calling, the full effects of which might not be felt in that person’s life until years later... After we've moved on.

I know I’ll probably always struggle with friends of mine who continue to be nonbelievers despite my evangelism. I hope and pray that they will one day come to Christ… That He will call them to Him. And I continue to share the Gospel with them at every appropriate opportunity. Perhaps I’ll never in this lifetime be assured of their salvation, but I can’t lie and say that there aren't people I care for deeply who I really want to see in Heaven!

6 comments:

Brandon said...

You can spread those seeds, Jay, and sometimes that's all you can do, but that's enough. Spread those seeds of faith and leave the rest to God.

I think the biggest way we can reach others is really just to lead by example. If we truly live our lives for Christ, we'll shine in this world, brighter than stars, and will give reason for people to stop and say, "Hey, what's different about them? There's something good I see going on with them. I want some of that." And maybe they'll realize it's God, or they'll be interested enough to ask and we can tell them that. If we live for Christ, we'll shine in this otherwise dark world, and we'll lead people to Christ through that.

And it never hurts to pray for those we won't to see come to Christ. I've found that actually does work.

God bless, and keep on sowing seeds of faith to your friends.

Brandon

Anonymous said...

This reminded me of a post from Slacktivist where Fred talks about the difference between good and bad evagelism. Thought you might enjoy it:
http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2006/02/lb_hospitality_.html

Anonymous said...

that was tilts. I'm apparently not bright enough to operate your new comment system :)

Jay said...

Brandon: Thanks. I will. And thank you as well for your emphasis on prayer. I think a lot of Christians don't care about that enough, believing that evangelism is all about them. It's really about God, and what better way to help God into a friend's heart than, well, asking Him?

Tilts: Where have you been, girl! I've missed your comments. Thanks for the article. It's a real gem. Hope you're well!

David Roberts said...

There is no such thing as failed evangelism. If we don’t “win the soul” of the person we’re sharing the Gospel with at a given moment, we have not failed. It’s God’s business who he saves.

I would agree entirely with this statement. If I understand scripture correctly, the Spirit must draw someone to the point of decision, you are simply the example and the face of God in their lives. I have painful memories of trying to force these situations from my college days, and though God made use of them anyway, it was hardly the ideal, lol.

Be open, be available, love God and those around you, the rest will work out wonderfully. And if you are concerned about those you love, well that's a prayer I find God takes delight in answering, and in some pretty amazing ways. Faith!

Robert said...

Jay,

This blog can be a point of evangelism. Although I am agnostic, I do not want to rob myself of a spiritual experience because of it. Your blog (and others) helps in that regard.

I may never get to the point of being a Christian, but I can at least consider its teachings and appreciate it as best as I can.