” I prefer the evangelism I am doing to the evangelism that you are not doing” is a well-worn quote. However, it has a certain poignancy to it.
We can sit around all day and night pondering what might be the best form of evangelism and never get round to actually going to tell people about Christ. The important thing is that we get out and about to share the message of our Lord with others.
We may be scornful of “negative” methods, of pointed messages on sandwich boards, or preachers haranguing people about their sin, But at least they are doing some evangelism. So many of us are just doing nothing.
None of this takes away from the necessity for us to strive for excellence in evangelism. I have written about the whole issue of excellency here and the need to be careful in how we present ourselves. But we do have to take the Nike strap-line and “Just do It”.
Finally, be very careful of criticising from your ivory tower and comfy chair those who are out there sharing the Lord. Because remember “I prefer the evangelism I am doing to the evangelism you are not doing.”
When potentially meeting people and thinking about talking with them I have often been deterred from doing so because of a mental malfunction. I reason it out that as a Christian I should talk to them about the Lord and His salvation. However, in the presenting situation, I feel that that would be difficult and perhaps awkward. So I conclude in my deluded way that I won’t speak to them at all!
What I have sought to do of late is to ditch that way of thinking and rather just speak to people normally. I have sought to simply interact with people about this and that; anything that might be of mutual interest. In doing this I have desired to enjoy the interaction with the other person. In taking this approach I am to freed myself of the perceived burden of having to introduce spiritual things.
So if nothing about scripture or the bible develops then I hang loose about that. However, should the opportunity arise to move things on to a more spiritual level then I trust the Lord to take advantage of such opportunities.
In all this I feel that the ministry of the Lord was of this ilk. As i read the gospels i sense a calm reasonableness to His approach to the general circumstances of life. When he was interacting with people there was nothing off putting about him. There was no Bible bashing or contrived spiritual conversations. He simply talked to people and naturally introduced spiritual matters
Of course He was the ultimate Holy Spirit led man who was always anointed into the right way. However, He is also our example in all things. And when we are enabled and anointed by the Holy Spirit we will be ministering in a way that is in the likeness of our Lord.
The plan of God as it unfolds in the book of Acts and into the epistles is to have churches established and built-up. This is God’s agenda for this age. In one sense the church is His mission plan for this age. Churches are established and out of those churches other churches are established.
I have been pondering on this issue particularly as regards to the sending out of missionaries to other pasts of the world. The goal should always be for those sent out either to link with churches which are already in situ in the location where they go to, or if it is a completely spiritually barren area to establish new churches.
There is something wrong for people to be just loan rangers or loan groups operating independent of churches.
This also raises issues more close to home. To engage in evangelism is absolutely vital and we give thanks to the Lord for all mission agencies who are labouring for the Lord. But these should always be operating in connection with local churches.
The commission of our Lord is to go and make disciples. Disciples are formed in the context of a local church. A convert can be any where, but a disciple should always be in a church. Evangelism should always be about recruiting disciples.
Let me make it clear that I am a lover of Muslims. I passionately love Muslims I pray for Muslims. I have Muslims, I would consider as friends. I am a total muslimphile; that means I am a lover of Muslims. So as Eid is celebrated in the UK today I would want to declare that.
However, I have to acknowledge and declare that I am also an Islamophobe. I was pondering upon this in respect of the slogan on the man’s T-shirt next to Jordan Peterson here. I am, dare I say, a hater of Islam. And I am a hater of Islam because I am a lover of Muslims. I love Muslims so much that I don’t want them to follow a false religious system.
I would go further and say that any real Christian must be an Islamphobe. To be otherwise is a complete contradiction and denial of our faith. This is because the faith of God revealed in Christ is a faith about how we can reach God through Jesus Christ and Him alone. He, Himself, said to Thomas “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
If we say that Islam or Mohammed is an acceptable way to God then we are declaring Jesus Christ to be a liar and should reject Him as a fraud. If, as is the case, Jesus Christ is true and the only way to God we should long that all Muslims, and all other followers of any religion, come to faith in Jesus Christ and be a follower of Him.
This Jesus is the one who died on the cross and rose again to bring salvation to all who believe. We believe that there is salvation in no other. We passionately want all, including Muslims, to come to faith in this Lord. We want them to turn from their false gods like the Thessalonian Christians did. It is said of them that they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:9b-10).
I love Muslims so much that I want them to turn from their religion and escape the wrath to come. I want them to become followers of Jesus Christ the Lord who died to cleanse and lives to save them.
Here is a report lasting about 25 mins on God’s work in a church in Pozzuoli in southern Italy. Alec Catchpole is a missionary there. He is originally from London.
In Paul’s address to Agrippa in Acts 26, Paul five times addresses him as “King Agrippa” (see verses 2, 7, 13, 19 and 27). This reminds me of how we should be respectful of the people we are speaking to when we are bearing witness. The person you are speaking to should be aware that you are respectful and honorable towards them. The appropriate use of titles gives substance to this.
I always think it is good to use the terms “sir” and “madam” when offering our leaflets to people on the streets or meeting people on the door. I think it it indicates something of that respect for the person.
Behind all this are two desires:
- To make the person know that you value them for who they are.
- You do not want to do anything that would get in the way of your bringing them to Christ. You don’t want the wrong way of addressing someone to get in the way.
It is always an interesting experience to be evangelized by someone who does not know you. Yesterday I was getting on the bus and saw a lady at the back with some large display boards speaking about the love of God and the blessings available from God. Given that the seats on the bus were mainly taken I deemed it appropriate to go and sit on a seat near her. I asked her a question about her boards and the contents thereof. She responded to this. Here are some thoughts on what ensued:
- For the time we talked, which was about 10 minutes, she did not ask me anything about myself.
- She talked at me for that time. I did not feel she engaged with me at all.
- I felt she just wanted to dump information on me and not win me to her message and for her Lord.
- She got off the bus before me so she know what the maximum time she would have. There was no sense of establishing where I was at in spiritual terms. There was no sense of helping me forward in my understanding.
- I was just left with a brain-dump upon me which I would have to sift for myself.
- What she said was a bit of a hotch-potch. Some stuff was really good: other stuff was at best confused.
- I did not feel she was interested in me or my spiritual welfare even though she spoke about hell.
What did I learn:
- Be interested in the person you are speaking to.
- Establish where they are at spiritually.
- Listen to them.
- Don’t just dump information, even though that information may be correct and wholesome.
- Be clear on the basics of the gospel.
- Think about how long you are likely to have speaking with the person. For some it may be a minute; for some it may be a lifetime. Your approach will differ accordingly.