Over the last few months, I have been thinking a lot about evangelism and the place it has within the church. When I hear about evangelism done in a way that is Godly, humble, and Christ centered, I have this intense yearning to evangelize more and more. (note: why I don’t do it more often, despite that yearning, is another thing that I am trying to work out) I love reading about Paul’s evangelist message on Mars Hill (Acts 17)…and his overwhelming joy at sharing his life and the gospel in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2). I loved reading through Brian McLaren’s “More Ready Than You Realize” and hearing his thoughts on how amazing and essential and beautiful evangelism can be.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past year with regards to evangelism is that when I evangelize, I myself learn a great deal about Christ and my faith in the process. Not that evangelism has become solely about pursuing my own good, but realizing that a selfless attitude towards sharing Christ with others helps me to remain humble and realize how far from Christlikeness I am, and how in need of mercy and grace I am.
But, in the last week or so I have been feeling another “evangelism learning” coming on. Today, I was sitting and writing a few e-mails on ‘Library Mall’ in the heart of the University of Wisconsin campus, when I was approached by two normal looking guys about my age. They told me their names, and said they didn’t want to bother me, but was wondering if I could talk for a minute. They were in Madison for a large ministry conference through Intervarsity, which has its headquarters in Madison.
Sensing that they going to share their faith with me, I just let them know that I had been a part of Intervarsity my freshman year, had friends who worked at the headquarters, and that I thought it was a great organization. When they found out that I was a Christian, they asked me a little bit of the spiritual climate on campus, and then said they wouldn’t bother me anymore and wished me a good afternoon.
Within five minutes, another couple of guys from the same conference approached me, and I mentioned that I had just talked to two others from their conference and again mentioned that I had friends that worked at IV, and they said that they wouldn’t waste any more of my time, and wished me a good afternoon.
As I sat there, my mind focused on one thing that I have been realizing for the last week or so: I desire to be evangelized to. Not in the sense that I want people to try and convert me over and over again, but that I absolutely love hearing people talk about how Christ has changed the way they live their life, view the world, and relate to their surroundings.
Being evangelized to Having people share with me what Christ has done in their life…it makes me realize how exciting, adventurous, and compelling a life following Christ can be. It makes me feel like I am not alone, that there is a body of Christ throughout the globe that is as tight knit as a family, despite the fact that we have never met.
But, much like my experience today, it seems to never happen. And I am not ripping on Intervarsity, street evangelism, etc. Not at all. I can hardly remember the last time that I was evangelized to in my home church, or my college ministry, or in my small group. And I can hardly remember the last time I myself evangelized to any of those groups either. I would have loved to have heard the amazing news of what Christ has done in four people’s lives today, and to be able to share good news of my own, but it didn’t happen.
“I have already been converted; there is no reason to evangelize to me anymore. The four guys I talked to have already been converted; there is no reason for me to evangelize to them anymore.”
I don’t think I buy it anymore.
I feel like our world is in desperate need of good news…the kind of news that offers a helping hand to redeem and save the fallen. This news is needed outside of the walls of our local churchs, but it is also needed within. Otherwise how are we supposed to remember what the good news is, if we are not continually sharing with, or evangelizing to, each other?
So some questions linger in my head…
Why don’t Christ followers evangelize more – not only to those who are not following Christ, but to those who are following him closely, or those who are struggling to follow him, or those that grew up following Him but are trying to figure out what it means to follow Him today….why don’t we do this? Why don’t we share the good news in our lives with all people?
What would it look like if church gatherings had more to do with evangelism than anything else…what if sharing faith just became a norm for Christians, both inside and outside the church bubbles and Christian circles?
Does this make any sense? What do you think?