Posts Tagged ‘evangelism

20
Feb
09

Tongue-Tied: A Message to My Fellow Christians

tongue-tied-imagerySometimes, as Christians wanting to share the good news of Christ, we try too hard. We don’t know what to say and we trip over ourselves. Or we get so eager that we say too much, too soon, too fast for the other person to be able to absorb. Or want to, for that matter.

Sometimes, frankly, we just need to shut up.

Evangelism, I think, is less about talking that it is about simply being there. Being there to listen. Being there to be a good example of what Jesus told us we should be. Being there to answer questions if necessary. Being there to act when action is needed to help someone.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t sometimes jump in and somehow suggest to someone that Jesus might be the path he or she needs. But too often, I think Christians jump in way too soon.

We have the Holy Spirit to guide us and that means that more often than not, we need to quiet our minds and quell our eagerness and listen. We need to listen to the Spirit of God and let ourselves be guided, not to force the people around us to listen to what we want them to when we want them to.

The people around us who aren’t born again don’t always need to hear from us about Jesus. More often, I think, they need to see Jesus, through our actions.

Because, in the end, no one becomes born again because a Christian convinces them to. That would be empty and false. No, they are born again because they choose that path, and I think more people would choose it if we would just closed our mouths, listened to them, and avoided some tongue-tied, awkward attempt to cajole them into choosing the path of God.

08
Jan
09

In the “In” Crowd, Part 2

Well, nothing like having “part 1” of a post and then following that up with the second portion roughly three weeks later—particularly when I said I’d follow up in a couple days. *sigh*

Anyway, back in mid-December I posted about an issue that irritates me: How a lot of people get riled  at Christians because they believe their way is the only way, even though most faiths are guilty of the same conceit.

Well, my follow-up is a related topic that was itching at the back of my head from a post—well, actually, the comments to a post—at the blog Losing My Religion in which someone hispanic-couplenamed Yaelbatsarah was railing about how Christian evangelists break up homes and marriages. The original point of the post was sort of a support and encouragement from the blog author SocietyVs (with a call out to his readers for assistance) for two women whose husbands had been sucked in by a “prophet” calling himself a Christian and claiming to speak to Jesus directly and presenting his personal letters as a new gospel. (That’s what I recall. This post was months ago, so I’m somewhat sketchy). The wives were disturbed because their husbands were so into this cult that they were neglecting their families. It was an unhealthy thing, as these guys were pretty much fawning over their “prophet” and disregarding their marriages and the actual Word of God.

Here are some snippets I had copy-pasted from Yaelbatsarah that stuck me, as he (I’m assuming maleness based on memory…if Yael is a woman, my very sincere and extensive apologies) basically found at least a twinge of bitter humor and righteous payback somehow in the way we were worrying about what this “prophet” (whom we were referring to as Speedothy, as his name is Timothy and his nickname Speedy…yeah, a prophet named Speedy…) was doing to these two marriages. He seemed to think we were hypocritical in bemoaning the fate of these two women’s marriages because according to him, evangelist Christians who are mainstream supposedly do the same thing. Here are some of Yael’s comments:

What about today? Do you target husbands or wives from other religions for evangelism? What do you think happens within their homes if you do? Is it only a problem when the shoe is on the other foot? BTW, my utmost sympathies are with the two women involved here, yet I have to wonder, my people, my children, are targeted for evangelism all the time. Do we have their sympathies?

I think Speedothy is totally wrong in what he is doing, however, if you go around teaching your gospel with no regard for the home lives you may be disrupting, than you are no different.

All through history followers of Paul have attempted to convince Jews OUR sacred texts mean something other than what we have read and have been taught AND that we Jews should instead follow the teachings from Paul’s letters. The similarity in these cases is quite glaring. The difference is only as I said, with the shoe on the other foot all of the sudden this is a problem, but when it is YOU doing it to other people its not a problem at all! How convenient! Don’t you think if I asked Speedothy he would also rationalize his taking people away from Christianity, claiming his is true Christianity, just as many Christians rationalize taking Jews away from Torah, by claiming their view is the true Torah? Don’t get me wrong, I think Speedothy has gone off the deep end, but I don’t see how what he’s doing is any different than what was done by Paul 2000 years ago nor what is done by many Christians today.

For the record, here’s part of a response I made to Yaelbatsarah, though I never got a reply to it as far as I recall:

In principle, I see where Yaelbatsarah is going in trying to spin parallels between was was done some 2,000 years ago that sometimes pit spouses and families against each other with regard to faith and saying that it’s hypocritical for us to assume Speedy is any different, worse or better…but there are some important points to note:

Paul seemed to prefer NOT to be having married men out there on the trail preaching the gospel and leaving their families behind. He wrote that he would rather someone be celibate and devoted to spreading the good news. Better, he said, to be married and not to sin in the flesh, but best to not have sex (or marriage) to muddle things up at all. It didn’t seem to be his goal or desire to pit one spouse against another. In fact, Christian spouses were urged to stay WITH their spouses even if they didn’t themselves also convert. Speedy seems to be saying choose me over your wife.

These are snapshots, and I hope they aren’t too out of context. That post and its comments were very long and covered a lot of territory beyond the marriage issue. But some of the things Yael said really pissed me off, to be honest.

I mean, why the venom? I suspect that either he has had a personal experience of someone close to him converting, or knows one or more people who have. He seems to have an attitude that evangelism has personally wronged him and his fellow Jews and who knows who else.

So, if it’s OK to blast evangelists for this, does that mean that when someone from a Christian family converts to Judaism to marry the person he or she loves, then the medieval-mixed-coupleChristian family has the right to demonize the fiance as some sort of religious seducer who has set out to destroy their family or has let “love” get in the way of doing the right thing by “leaving their child alone”?

And why, pray tell, does this have to tear a marriage or a family apart? If one spouse becomes Christian and the other one doesn’t feel the same way, we are not told in the Bible to browbeat that other spouse and cram Jesus down their throat. In fact, Paul writes in First Corinthians, chapter 7 (verses 12-16):

But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Also, I just don’t get where Yael’s sense that evangelists are preying on relationships comes from. It almost seems like he suggests that Christian evangelists often target one spouse to get to both or to get to a whole family. I’m not saying that it can’t happen; of course it could. But by and large, evangelism is about sharing the Gospel and leaving the non-believer to make their own decision, ask questions, etc. Evangelism is about presenting Jesus as an option, not trying to seduce or trick people into it.

And Yael is clear that he thinks Christian evangelists are insensitive to marriages. Well, seeing as how we believe the only trustworthy path to salvation is through Jesus, it would be pretty damn insensitive of us not to tell others about that path. We can’t make anyone walk it, but we are supposed to point to it and say, “You really should take that road. I’m just sayin’…”

It’s not about insensitivity. I think that an average evangelist would much rather reach out to both people in a marriage at the same time and share with them equally. Well, our contacts and friendships in life don’t always work that way. A good evangelist will share when and where he or she can, without pressure, and that might mean reaching out to just one person in a marriage. Is the evangelist supposed to say, “Well, gee, the other spouse might not like Christianity. Oh well, I guess I don’t mind if I pass on the opportunity to help this spouse save his/her soul. I’ll just assume they wouldn’t care anyway.”

I’m sure there are more than a few husbands out there with very old-fashioned values who didn’t like “nosy broads” telling their wives about being liberated and equal and shit. Does that make those women wrong for wanting to empower women they saw as being held down? In the end, it’s the choice of a spouse what to do in a case like this and the choice of the other spouse how to handle it.

To demonize evangelism itself as destructive to marriages and families—whether Christian evangelism or some other faith’s—is simply ignorant and wrong.

15
Dec
08

In the “In” Crowd, Part 1

angel-of-light1Once again, posting far later than I like, but it was a busy day.

It’s been suggested to me a couple times that I post on the subject of why everybody’s so down on Christians because they believe their way is the only way.

This won’t be long, so consider it a prelude to a longer rant/diabtribe/discussion.

At another blog I frequent, in the comments to a recent post, someone mentioned that 4 billion people on this planet or thereabouts don’t follow Christianity, with the suggestion (or so it seemed) that this was somehow evidence that belief in the Judeo-Christian God and in Jesus was wrong.

As one Christian pointed out quietly, why does the fact that 4 billion people believe something else mean he shouldn’t believe what he believes?

And it’s a valid point, for a number of reasons, but mostly because those 4 billion people don’t all believe in the same thing. Sure, a lot of agnostics and most of  the atheists will argue that’s virtual proof that nobody is right, but that’s a line of discussion I’ll tackle another time. The point is, they all think they are right, too, and they believe in a multitude of things.

But I don’t really hear people complaining that the Jews believe they are right or that the Hindus believe they are right or that the Shinto folks believe they are right or that the pagans believe they are right or anything else.

Occasionally, someone grumbles about the fact that the Muslims think they are right, but usually only when some militant offshoot goes on a murderous jihad or something.

Mostly though, they complain that the Christians think they are right, and they turn this into some kind of indictment that Christians are evil, closed-minded, hateful individuals.

Put in that context, doesn’t seem so fair, does it?

I’m sure someone will now mutter (or decide that they should type in my comments) that “Sure, that might be the case, but how often do those other religions go out and try to convert people?”

Well, first of all, at the core of Jesus’ commands to us as his followers, we are to spread the gospel. Thus, evangelism is part of our religion and thus our faith walk.

But more to the point, really, when was the last time a Christian proselytized to you? Really. Not that often for most of us. Sure, we run into the periodic person handing out leaflets about the ways to avoid Hell or somesuch, but the fact is, the vast majority of Christians hardly evangelize at all. They should be, in some way, even if it’s low-key, but they don’t.

So, I guess my point to those of you who hate Christians thinking that they are right: What’s the effing problem?

More ranting on the topic in a day or two, probably.

09
Oct
08

Christians Are Scaring Me – By Mrs. Blue

I’m almost scared to be around Christians anymore.

And I’m a Christian. Born again, believing in Jesus as the virgin-born and resurrected son of God. Daughter of a preacher. Reader of the Bible pretty much every morning and every night (which is actually more than I can say for my husband…so why is he doing this blog and not me? 😉 OK, he knows stuff, too, I kid him mercilessly about more than his Bible reading habits)

But seriously, I am kind of frightened of Christians these days because I’m never entirely sure what I am facing. Am I looking at someone like me, who keeps faith and critical thinking both very handy? Am I looking at a “sheeple” kind of person who needs to be (and allows him/herself to be) led by a pastor instead of “studying the word to be approved”? Am I possibly looking at someone who would do me harm for not agreeing with their outlook on Christ and the world at large?

I did a guest post here some time back called Faith Gone Bad where I mentioned my friend Mrs. Eager and her desire to move to the Bible Belt, for no other reason than to find a church she likes and greater numbers of really churchy people. Of course, maybe I shouldn’t call her my friend anymore because we don’t talk hardly at all now. No falling out or anything like that; it’s just that we don’t see eye to eye on things. Hell, we don’t even see eye-to-navel. I think we’re looking off in two different directions.

So why am I scared?

Well, let’s look at VP candidate Sarah Palin. She has a pastor praying over her for finances and political success (pretty self-serving, particulary since this pastor fired up a mob…and police…to run a woman out of a town in Africa because HE thought she was a witch). She has said she believes dinosaurs and people were around at the same time. She has said she expects the End Times and the Rapture to occur during her lifetime. She keeps painting the campaign as a battle of “us” vs. “them” at a time when we’re all up the creek without a paddle. She’s trying to make the working class think that somehow their plight is difference from those “elitist” middle class folks and she’s winking and flirting with conservatives and good ole boys like a madonna-whore tease.

And people are eating her up. And a lot of men, including so-called fundamentalist Christian men, want to eat her out, it seems. They are lusting after her even as they claim that our country’s moral fabric is unraveling.

Too many people seem to think we’re waging a holy war on God’s behalf over in Iraq.

Too many people are voting on issues like abortion, stem cell research, church-state issues, teaching “intelligent design” in school and other stuff related to religion, and all of this at a time when our foreign relations are in the dumper and our economy shudders on the brink of the abyss.

I don’t even want to call myself a Christian anymore because too many Christians are showing their hypocritical and ignorant asses. Sometimes I just call myself a follower of Christ.

I don’t want to call myself an evangelist because a lot of the scariest and most conservative Christians label themselves as such, and so everyone else assumes that evangelism means berating people and judging people, when it just means that we share the good news of of the gospel with people. I don’t know what to call myself here, since I do consider myself evangelistic. My dear hubby has suggested we try “ambassadors for Christ.”

This is bad. I don’t like to get into discussions with many Christians I know about current events or world events or politics because it seems like too many of them want to spout off about what their pastor told them they should think or what Sarah Palin thinks.

Why aren’t they using the brains God gave them?

People are being fired up, both under the banner of patriotism and faith, to get nasty. People are shouting “kill Obama” at campaign rallies now. What the hell is up with that? When did Jesus call upon us to kill anyone? Or judge anyone? Or use him as an excuse to do nasty things?

I see my faith being co-opted by a bunch of freaks, and it sickens me. Because while I don’t believe Christianity is simply the bastion for the weak-willed or ignorant, the fact is that savvy people are using it to lure in and herd people who are both of those things. Christianity has been turned on its head for real now, to the point I can’t hardly go to most churches in my area because it’s clear that they are taking sides and would rather have leaders who institute a church-based set of laws than to have leaders who can interact in a healthy way with the world and promote issues like healthcare, economic stability for everyone and tolerance.

It’s scary, I tell you. Scary as hell. It’s like I’m in a zombie movie except that all the zombies are wearing crosses around their neck and I’m afraid of two things:

That those zombie will get me because I’m not one of them.

People who are sick of those zombies will get me because they fear I’m a zombie too.

(Photo by Edd Sterchi, from eBibleTeacher.com)

(If you want to read any of Mrs. Blue’s other infrequent posts around these parts, go here)

02
Aug
08

Hiding From You by Miz Pink

There was some talk about boldness in Deke’s post a couple days ago on keeping your wits about you. In the post and the comments there are hints about that fact we need to be bold but also that nagging fact that we sometimes need to be cautious.

I think most of Christian folks mess up by being way too cautious. We hide our faith like some hideous oozing sore or embarassing old tatoo that we don’t want people commmenting on. Now when I say too cautious I’m not, like, saying you should go out to Iran and march through the streets preaching the gospel. That’s not the kind of boldness the average Christian needs to show. What they need to show is boldness in everyday conversation with people they hang with. People who may have been raised Christian but aren’t really born again because they haven’t really take Christ to heart. People who may be of different faiths. People who may be atheist. People who aren’t sure what to believe.

I’m not saying that Christians should wear huge crosses around their necks or plaster a bunch of “God is my co-pilot!” bumper stickers on the car. What I am saying it, let it be known that you are Christian. Believe me with anyone you hang out with regularly there will come a time when it is appropriate…and necessary…that you speak up as a person of faith and make yourself known.

Jesus isn’t cool with people who are afraid to admit they like him. Because if youre afraid to admit that, how much do you really like him, huh?

For instance…

…Your fellow lunching coworkers are talking, and someone mentions how tired she is of Christians trying to overturn Roe versus Wade.

Wouldn’t that be a perfect time to say something like, “I’m a devout Christian and I don’t really think it’s appropriate to overturn that. Religion shouldn’t be used to form our pubic policy. I do think that protestors have the right to complain about it though as long as they aren’t getting violent. We all have free speech.”

…Someone moans about how all those born-again Christians are always so hypocritcal and judgemental.

Wouldnt that be a nice opportunity to say “Have I been judgemental of you? I was just wondering, because I am born again. I wonder, do you maybe have a certain view of what that means? Because maybe I can help clear up what born again really means and it ain’t about ideological stances.”

…A person mentions how close-minded Christians are.

Isn’t that a time you might want to say “Wow, I never realized you felt that way about me.”

The problem is we don’t want to let people know we’re faithful Christians because we think they will treat us differently. So we walk that “I’m spiritual but not religious walk” even if that’s not what we really are. We go undercover and God forbid someone says something nasty about Christian attitudes or demeans the intelligence of them or paints them with some broad brush because then we curl into ourselves and shut up.

If I was having lunch with Deke and someone right next to us dropped the N-word and he didn’t say anything (having a black wife and biracial kids and all), not only would I give him crap for that, you can bet I’d be telling Mrs. Blue about it. I don’t think he would punk out like that, but I’m just sayin’ you know? That is something so important that he should feel obligated to step up. Considering that born again Christians owe their eternal salvation to God and to Jesus’ sacrifice, isn’t is more than a little punk-like to be covert Christians and let people make assumptions about us?

Between me and Sir Pink and Deke and Mrs. Blue, the lot of us know an awful lot of pagans, wiccans, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims, conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, potheads, straight laced folks, uptight people, party types and so on and so on and so on. Some of these folks we know might talk trash about Christians from time to time if they aren’t Christian themselves. But they are forced to think twice about us, and stop painting us as close minded idiots, when they discover that not only do we have formal and deep educations…

Not only do we have diverse political stances…

Not only can we think for ourselves…

Not only do we have a wide swath of friends and interests…

…but whoa! we’re also card carrying followers of Jesus Christ!

You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops like crazy person. But if you’ve been hiding your Christianity, stop doing it today. It’s the least you can do.

29
Jul
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Extra Mustard by Miz Pink

So, I’m taking over this Tuesday and I’m picking the topic this time: Mustard Seeds.

I have to give credit where its due…to the pastor who preached this past Sunday on Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 13, verses 31-33 and verses 44-49. What I’m really interested in today is this part of that Bible study:

31 He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.”

To a lesser extent, I’m also going to talk about this one, even though it doesn’t have mustard as a condiment:

33 He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”

The pastor made an interesting point about the mustard seed, in that it doesn’t really produce a tree. I found some references to an actual “mustard tree” of some sort with some quick Googling, but mostly I think Jesus was talking about the herb, and various translations Jesus is quoted as saying something more along the lines of “herb” or “shrub” instead of “garden plants” which reinforces this.

I’m not going to fault Jesus for any confusion here. First, parables, much like metaphorical points we make in discussion and arguments, aren’t always precise, ya know? We use exageration and we gloss over inconvenient details because the point is to…well…make a point. Also, he may have been intentionally mixing the idea of the herb and the tree, even if they comes from very different seeds. Jesus was a deep and complex guy so who knows how many levels there are to this parable?

Anyway, the point the pastor made was that the mustard shrub is very much a weed, really. It is invasive and most people wouldn’t want mustard seeds sprouting in their gardens for fear that the mustard shrubs might choke out the desired plants.

And he made the point that Jesus did this on purpose to turn people’s expectations on their head and make them look at the world in a revolutionary way. He was telling his listeners that the kingdom of God was going to spread like a weed. And that in growing and spreading there would also be some chaos and some discomfort. And he didn’t compare the kingdom of heaven to something grand, like the cedars of Lebanon, but to something lowly instead which reminds me of how God make wisdom from foolish things and produces strength from supposedly weak people.

The leaven parable, he noted, was also something that used imagery that Jesus’s audience might not have found comfortable. Think of how in one of the most holy days of the Jews, Passover, the focus is on unleavened bread. And in general, many breads of the region in those days were unleavened. To some extent, yeast/leaven wasn’t a good thing. So for Jesus to use it as an example to describe the kingdom of God might, again, be a way to shake people up.

We like to see Jesus as some placid guy who was really sweet. We forget that he overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple and whipped them out with a length of rope. We forget that he cursed a fig bush for not having fruit on it. We forget that he could be sharp, short and even sarcastic with people.

Jesus was all about love but he also had a bit of mischief in him. He knew how to shake things up. We need to remember that about him and about the new convenant. It isn’t about peace and quiet.

It’s about turning things on their heads sometimes.

(Click here for Deke’s post on today’s topic)

28
Jul
08

Faith Gone Bad – by Mrs. Blue

Hi, there. A conversation with Mrs. Eager has once again brought my thoughts here to my husband’s blog, combined with an incident on Sunday in which a guy shot up a Unitarian-Universalist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, killing two people and injuring seven last I heard.

First, Mrs. Eager. We’re talking on the phone and I’m even more convinced that we have virtually nothing in common except both being born again. And she reveals to me that her and Mr. Eager are, well…eager…to move them and their two girls out of the Northeastern U.S and into the Bible Belt. They have their eyes in particular on Tennessee (yeah, you can connect my mental dots already, I’m sure) because they want to be in a place where “traditional values” are held more dearly.

Mrs. Eager expressed her concern that things are too “liberal” out here in many of the churches. Now, there are many liberally minded churches in our part of the world. I agree. But having done some church-hopping with darling hubby as we tried to find a church home, I have been to a great many places where not only was the doctrine quite conservative but people looked at my black ass quite strangely. Many a church out here has been nixed for our family based on people not receiving our mixed race family warmly and, in some cases, with a distinct “why are you here and could you please leave” mentality.

So, I don’t really get why you would pick up and move hundreds and hundreds of miles simply for religious reasons, with the end goal being to be around a lot of other people just like you. There is no job or better career options waiting out in the Bible Belt. Mr. Eager is a plumber, and pretty much anywhere in this country, that’s a job that will keep you busy and money coming in at a comfortable level. They have family out here. Yet they are seriously considering moving simply so that it will be easier for them to find plenty of conservative Christian churches to choose from.

That scares me a little. It seems like the decision of someone who’s caught up in religion, but not very caught up in being Christ-like.

And when you add the Tennessee shooting to spice this up, I think: A man went and tried to murder a bunch of people in a U.U. church because he hated the liberal movement in general (especially inclusiveness of gays) and, I suppose, hating even more so those pesky liberal Christians or liberal semi-Christians (since U.U. churches seem more like spiritual social clubs to me than actual churches, since they are religiously inclusive as well, trying to be one-stop spiritual shopping it seems). So, doesn’t that show that the Bible Belt also produces very unsavory people, despite all those traditional values?

I know this is just one person. I know that Mrs. Eager and Mr. Eager are not seeking to hook up with people who kill other people over liberal vs. conservative views.

But why do they want to surround themselves with people they assume will be like-thinking? Jesus didn’t do that. So many churches, particularly those with a more conservative slant, want to go out all over the world and convert people; lead them to Christ. Yet how many of them put that same effort closer to home? Instead, people hole up in churches where everyone is like them and they hear what makes them feel comfortable. They socialize with those people. They avoid those who would say things they don’t want to hear.

Yet Jesus socialized with the active sinners. He hung out with—and preached to—gamblers, prostitutes, thieves, adulterers and more. He went where people needed to hear the good news of God’s grace and coming kingdom on Earth.

If Mrs. Eager and her family head out to the Bible Belt, I wonder: Will they be reaching anyone? Will they be effective Christians? I doubt it. They will be comfortably ensconced in a warm cocoon of “Churchianity.”

If things are too liberal here—if people are getting away from the Word of God because they are trying to make it fit the world or edit it to be more palatable—doesn’t it make more sense to stay and let people see the light of Christ shining through you when you hold to the Word?

She would say, I am sure, that this is a move for the children’s sakes. But we cannot protect our children from the world; we can only teach them how to overcome it. And leaving for the Bible Belt? Well, that feels to me like they are just running away.

(If you want to read any of Mrs. Blue’s other infrequent posts around these parts, go here)

29
Apr
08

Pushing Christ

Let’s get one thing straight right now. It’s probably something that was worth saying the first day I posted on this blog. But since I didn’t do it then, now’s as good a time as ever.

This blog won’t save a single soul.

Never.

If it were to run a hundred years and be read by a million people a day, not one damned thing I do or say here will ever, ever save the soul of anyone on this planet.

But then again, no Christian saves any souls. No writings by theologians rescue anyone from the fires of Hell. The Bible itself has no power to redeem anyone. Those words may bring a feeling of dismay to some of the Christians who visit here. Some people will see my words as defeatism. They will think that I have lost my will and given into despair. Those are exactly the people who most need to read today’s post, because they are the ones most confused about what the hell evangelism is supposed to be about.

It isn’t about saving anyone.

It’s about letting them know how they can be saved.

My father-in-law, a pastor, has been very good over the years about chatting up Jesus with people he meets, and letting them know that to not have Jesus is to have death and to have him is to have life. He does this very smoothly, very conversationally. And sometimes, if he has had a really good and productive talk with a some lost soul about the gospel, he will not only encourage that person to seek Jesus, but he will also do something else. He will tell that person that if he or she should embrace Christ, don’t come back to thank him. Don’t even feel obliged to go to the trouble of tracking him down to tell him that they have become born again. And the reason is simple: It’s none of our business at that point.

That isn’t to say that we don’t want to hear about people becoming born again. But it should not be our goal to get a pat on the back or to have people return to us and thank us for saving them. Because that only stokes our egos, and it isn’t even true. No ones soul is saved until that person makes a sincere statement in his or her heart and with his or her mouth that Jesus is lord and savior, and then reaches out through Jesus to God the Father.

Jesus is the bridge, God writes the sins off the books, and the Holy Spirit can then fill the person up. The only mortal person involved in any person being saved is the one who asks for salvation and the forgiveness of their own sins—past, present and future.

I say this because a lot of Christians, particularly those who are really into church-based evangelism ministries, or who are relatively new to their faith, or otherwise very fired up for Christ…they start to think it is their job to push Jesus. They think it is their job to bring people to Christ.

People, we don’t bring anyone to Jesus. We point the way and we show by example why heading for Jesus is the right choice. But if we’re bringing the person to Jesus, that person isn’t likely getting saved. Because we cannot do it for them.

Mrs. Blue was telling me today about a mutual friend and sister in Christ who was describing how she had finally gotten a non-Christian couple she and her husband knew to attend their church. And Mrs. Blue told me how proud this friend of ours was (we’ll call her Mrs. Eager). Mrs. Eager told Mrs. Blue how it was so great to finally get this couple to go to their church and how she and Mr. Eager just had to keep “working on” this couple to get them to Christ.

Working on them? What are we, pushers? Are we trying to hook people on Jesus? Get them a taste and then try to make Christianity a habit?

We don’t need to hammer on people about how great Jesus is. The more we push someone, the less likely it is that the person will make the right choice. Sure, we can get them to come to church and wonder and maybe even fret about their souls, but the more we pressure them, the more we are distracting them from Jesus. Yes, we should share with the the wonder of the gospel. Yes, we should be there to answer their questions if they have any. Yes, we should let the light of Christ shine through our own actions.

But it is not now and should never be our task to herd people into churches thinking that sitting in a pew and hearing a pastor and singing some hymns is the formula for saving anyone.

God don’t need pushers. Jesus don’t need pushers. The Holy Spirit don’t need pushers. They need ambassadors.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

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