Evangelism? Mandatory? Oh no!!
Ever since the realization that the Great Commission was not a suggestion, but a command, my heart’s been beating triple-time when someone mentions evangelism.
All I need to do is recall how I’ve (mis)treated people who witnessed to me when I was a haughty, stubborn, nonbeliever, and I cringe, and think, “Oh boy. I know what’s coming! That is probably how I would be treated when it’s my turn!”
I had not always thought it was my duty to go out and share. Others were into it – they joined that particular ministry in their church – let them do it! A few months back, my friend Kristin and I met up downtown, and unbeknownst to me, one of her other street evangelism friends was there. We were barely introduced when he handed me a stack of tracts and expected me to hand them out. Uh, hello? I’m just here to hang out with Kristin, was what I thought. Why? Are you scared? What’s the worst that could happen? That they’d laugh at you? I had half the mind to get annoyed, not just at him, but at Kristin. I was thinking, hang on a minute. Shouldn’t you people wait for me to be ready so that I’d be effective? Was this a set up? I’m nervous!! Plus, I never volunteered for this!!!
The bible says we must always be ready. (1 Peter 3:15) But my saying I wasn’t ready, was more of a pride issue. I wanted to delay my participation because I wanted to be effective. I wanted it to be successful. I wanted to strategize and prepare so that I could lead many people to God on the spot. I did not want to make a fool of myself while I was at it. I was not unlike some evangelical pastors who saw evangelism as a numbers game. Furthermore, I had negated the Holy Spirit’s role in evangelism, and took it upon myself to make it effective. I was making an idol out of wanting good results.
God is not asking us to be successful. He just wants us to be faithful to the Gospel and to share it with others. (Mark 16:15)
“Success is acting out your Christian life, sharing the gospel and trusting God for the results…success is not bringing someone to Christ. God does the work. We cannot fail. It is all God’s work.
– William Fay, Share Jesus Without Fear
Last month, my church took a break from our regular studies on Mark and focused on evangelism for three Sundays. On one of those days we got to practice on someone in church the things we might say to a person on one of our outreaches. My spiel was so pathetic- I didn’t really know what to say! I felt challenged to try again. On the last Sunday, we were invited to come back in the evening so we could actually go around in the areas surrounding our church.
I was nervous, yes, but I was also excited. I shed all my pride and just allowed the Holy Spirit to take over. If God had commanded it to happen, then why should I allow my fear of man to keep from being obedient?
The results were totally awesome! I had expected a difficult time, but it was so much fun. More people came than the number that RSVPd. Our quartet was able to gather food for the food bank. One house even gave us 3 grocery bags! We had also come to the realization that the block we were assigned to had households that had some sort of church background. When we came back to church, the food we collected surpassed expectations. We had walked for an hour, and carried heavy bags of groceries, but it only seemed like 15 minutes. We got back refreshed, invigorated and excited! Only 2 people were unwilling to talk to us, but none were close to how mean I had been to evangelizers when I was yet unsaved. Sure, it rained, and we got lost, but we were able to hit all our target homes and come back to church on time! The testimonies from the other participants were encouraging and touching. Each one had something to contribute that was edifying to the body.
I thank God that he allowed us to experience the joy of sharing. I thank Him that we did not have experience any kind of persecution on the road. It was a wonderful first experience. It was very encouraging.
To God be all the glory!