I have to admit, I am a stumbleupon user. I search the internet for all sorts of silliness, but I also use it as a tool to be connected to the church, in regards to what it’s doing, and how other people are interpreting what the church is doing. Now, I want to make a serious distinction: what the church is doing is not always what God is doing. It’s quite easy to suggest the two actions are synonymous especially as an evangelical Christian, but looking through the church’s history and present state, I have no choice but to admit they are not always the same. Let’s combine this with the biblical church model and current trends in evangelism.
I was just reading an excerpt of an internet post (found @ http://www.turoks.net/Cabana/MisplacedDeitySoughtByChristians.htm), where Christians are described as jumping out of a van at a bus stop to convert a random man. Notice how it’s implied that this woman was essentially sticking to a script of frequent (or thought to be frequent) questions and a set of answers. It didn’t take into account that people have the ability to think outside the box, and that the majority of people have no reason to turn to Jesus.
Christians, let me take you to a wonderful book I call the bible. Do you ever see Jesus running around, asking, “Have you found me yet?” No, you haven’t. Did you see Jesus shoving Himself into people’s faces, preaching at people on their need to convert? No. He didn’t even do that to the Pharisees (although, He did have many arguments with them). Here is the key, though. People who were given the gospel identified Jesus as the Messiah. Does that blow your mind? Shouldn’t that cause some sort of paradox, that you can only identify Jesus if He reveals Himself to you, but He needs to reveal Himself to you to identify Him? WAKE UP! Evangelism isn’t about cramming your holy scripture down someone’s throat. People already hate you because you are a Christian, hate your religion, because it was horribly deformed and used as a weapon throughout history, and now, instead of building bridges to people, you trap them and try and trick them into your brand of Christianity.
So, if you want to share the gospel with people, instead of following some formula that only works to build up wishy-washy Christians, follow this advice: people want to know that God is real. Before Christianity, they don’t care about the Bible, they don’t care about Jesus, they don’t care about your church or it’s congregation. They want to validate that your God can do something for them. Sounds selfish? Let me ask you to examine your motivation to continue your faith. Is it because you get a free ticket to heaven, or that God is worthy to be worshipped, regardless of your eternal destination? A friend said this to me, and he hit the nail on the head: “Even if God sent every living person to hell, He would still be worthy of being worshipped.” As much as I don’t want to go to hell, wouldn’t that be an amazing God? That His qualities would drive people to worship Him, even in spite of His sentence on our lives. The God of Christianity and Judaism is this God. He is totally worthy of worship. Is this the God you follow, or do you follow a small, incapable God? My God reveals Himself every moment of every day. He doesn’t need me to tell people who He is. He desires for me to share in the experience, but God is not dependant on human action.
How do I apply this advice? Make your life a testimony to God, as a form of worshipping Him, but also allowing your lifestyle to be a witness to God’s work in your life. People have a “genuine radar” built into them; although sometimes this doesn’t always work, people can usually spot when someone is genuine in how they live and act. I don’t need to quote scripture to prove to anyone I am a Christian. Scripture says for followers of Jesus to be separate, so to make your life a testimony, follow the Bible over culture. If you are in a factory were language is often profane, make an effort to keep your mouth clean. People will notice. If you work in a service industry, always greet people with a genuine smile, and go out of your way to serve people. People will notice. If you work as a taxi driver, always go the quickest route, and obey the traffic laws. People will notice. This doesn’t mean keep silent with scripture. I am not saying limit your evangelism to good deeds, but let your actions speak, and if people come up to you and talk to you about how you behave, that is a big spotlight for Christ to be shown.
What does not work in evangelism and discipleship is cramming scripture down people’s throats, and using an answer key to prove your faith in a logical way. I can assure you that people put up their defensive when people approach them in any similar way to Jehovah Witness’ collared shirts and backpacks. This could be anything like that, though, like a stack of bibles, or a car-salesman smile. God cannot and will not be sold as a product. When you take this approach, you are putting your faith in your works instead of Christ’s work. We are not a works-based religion. Paul writes that we are not saved by works, because we would boast in our own ability (Ephesians 2:9).
To non-Christians, I am sorry that my brothers and sisters in Christ have crammed the bible down your throats. I, among others, know that you would take the bible seriously if a friend talked with you about it – you may never believe it, but you will respect your friend and his/her beliefs. I have heard it quoted, even as a joke, this satirical pray, “Jesus, I love you, but I hate your friends.” Be patient with us – we’re human and prone to error.
To my Christian brothers and sisters, if you disagree with me, discredit me with scripture. Challenge both myself and yourself. Be like the Berean Church and search the scriptures daily to see if they are true (Acts 17:11). If you have the same mindset as myself, then let’s do evangelism right, and build into people’s lives with relationship, and let God lead them to Him.