I went to a Friday night race in Daytona with my dad a couple weeks ago. We had a great time together experiencing the atmosphere and the sounds, smells, and power of the trucks on the track.
As we entered the speedway grounds, there were three men at the entrance gate. One had a bullhorn and was reading a Bible passages about the judgment of God. The two others had signs with similar messages about perishing and hell and stood with their free arms outstretched holding tracts. While I am giving them credit for being well-meaning, there efforts were ignored by the large crowd walking past them.
These men were doing evangelism. In our Christian terminology, evangelism is what you are trained for; having gone through a program, and been trained in the right steps in presenting the gospel to others. This type of training takes a variety of forms, but the commonality is that evangelism is seen as a separate discipline for the follower of Christ. Think of the fear response that is so common when people are told we are going to talk about or teach ‘evangelism’.
Evangelism is presented as a discipleship elective and in practice comes off feeling forced and unnatural.
What if we simply taught people to love others? That the people around them and that come into our churches are more than a statistic or a project. They are people who are struggling with their place in the world.
What if we simply taught people to listen to others? Rather than giving enough attention to throw in the appropriate Bible verse, this would take compassion and time.
Are these things any of us are willing to give? Evangelism should not be a separate dimension for someone in Christ. Talking about Jesus as part of your life, recollecting what He has done, and acting in love are some of the fruit that should spring forth from an identity rooting in Christ.
Approaching ‘evangelism’ this way is a matter of identity. It takes believing that it is up to us to plant seeds or to water seeds, but trusting that God will make things (faith) grow. Therein lies the challenge to identity – often we are tied to the results or power, so we manipulate and present a sales pitch.
I wondered on my Friday night at the race what would have been the affect if the three men had been passing out bottles of water with a simple message that said “Jesus loves you, enjoy the race.” The sign behind them could has said the same thing with “Ask me more.”
That would have been planting seeds. Or watering what someone else had planted. That would have been good for the next follower of Christ they encountered, who will water and maybe begin to see faith blossom.
It takes a church body that truly believes it is interconnected. Throwing off control and fear and replacing it with compassion and love. Surrendering to the God who is in control of the results.
What ideas do you have for how you can demonstrate love and compassion to those in your circle of influence?
I am an author, discipleship coach, and speaker who helps followers of Jesus gain perspective on their identities so they can experience transformation in their decisions, behaviors and relationships and live in freedom. My book Tree of Lies: Transforming Decisions, Behaviors, and Relationships By Gaining Perspective On Your Identity in Christ available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2bjMRyx) or Barnes and Noble (http://bit.ly/2c0q62I). Visit TreeofLies.com for free resources.
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