Most Christians think that they don’t like evangelism. It’s one of our greatest myths.
I know it’s a myth because the Holy Spirit’s business on earth is to magnify Jesus and convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Because God’s Spirit dwells within us, there has to be a better explanation for why most Christians don’t think they like it.
Let me see if I can give it a shot.
If you’ve been going to church for any length of time, you’ll know that we sit in an audience and watch the guy up front “do evangelism”. There’s safety in numbers, and the average believer doesn’t really have to do anything to evangelize. Somebody might come and hear the gospel, slip their hand up, and receive the usual “God bless your hand brother” as a spiritual “atta-boy”.
The believer sits, and feels that evangelism has been accomplished. There in the safety of the crowd, nobody was asking them to do anything…except maybe bring somebody.
Consider for a second that we’re talking about a battle line. In one sense, that bit of evangelism was accomplished by bringing somebody who didn’t know Jesus into our outpost. We brought them back to HQ. This is what we call “come and see” evangelism. As long as we bring people in, then evangelism continues to go on.
Or so we might be tempted to think if that was all that ever happened.
But suppose that every once in a while, somebody wonders why we aren’t doing more to reach others outside the walls. The Spirit within this individual is burdened for the lost. They might feel that that Spirit Himself is ready to burst out of their chest. So they decide to go behind enemy lines and penetrate past the barbed wire. This is a reconnaissance mission, and they feel like they’re infiltrating enemy territory.
Suppose this individual approaches the leadership of the church, sharing the frustration. They may even be encouraged to do something…alone.
Suppose that individual ventures out, beyond the safety of the church walls where the believers continue to huddle. There’s no herd mentality here. No safety in numbers.
What happens “out there”? It’s hard to say, but it usually involves clumsy attempts at talking to people, awkwardly handing out tracts, or even trying to find a gimmick approach when the former things seem to fall flat.
Suppose there is a moderate degree of success. Suppose that the individual begins to feel that the burden is relieved by this activity. What do they do next?
They return to the huddle, and seek to recruit more people to venture forth. Reluctantly, others agree to come. They take the tracts with them. They learn the lines. They may even assist in adopting the gimmick approach, but it falls flat.
They still feel awkward.
They mistakenly conclude that evangelism is “not their thing”. Thus, the myth that they don’t like evangelism is perpetuated.
As an apostolic leader, my ministry differs from the evangelist. The evangelist goes out from the church and brings the lost into the community of Christ. The apostle however turns the tables. The apostolic leader takes those inside the church, and bring them out into the community of the lost…together.
Not alone. Not individually. But together.
For the past ten years, I’ve been finding myself turning churches inside out. I take the Sunday meeting buried behind the four walls of the church service, and turn it loose in a public space. It could be a meeting in a Starbucks. It could be in a park in the open air. The point is, the church is out and about. And we’re all together.
One of the biggest factors that perpetuates the myth that Christians don’t like evangelism is the fact that when they’ve practiced it, it’s been them and one or two others.
How might it change if the whole church were out together on an outreach? What if instead of one or two individuals venturing behind the battle lines, the whole church advanced as an army together?
When we throw a barbeque in the park in Long Beach, we are all using our gifts. Evangelism is happening without gimmicks, tracts, or awkwardness. We are eating together, talking, worshipping, preaching, and people are getting saved.
Everybody is using their gifts. Everybody is a part of evangelism. Everybody is doing the part of mission that fits them. In other words, the Holy Spirit within them is perfectly expressing Himself through their particular gifts of serving, giving, compassion, mercy, or whatever it is. And there’s been no disconnect. The church has gone out together, worked as a team, and expressed Jesus in community, to a community, and believers found that they not only liked evangelism, but they loved it.
If the church will boldly hit the frontlines together, instead of simply sending the odd straggler, who is brave enough to venture forth, we might cause Christians to fall in love with evangelism once again. This will happen despite the widely believed myth that evangelism “is not for everybody”. Let’s turn the church inside out, hit the streets together and bust that myth.