A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Evangelism Gone Wrong

In all my years of pastoral ministry, the topic of evangelism and how we are to go about sharing our faith seems to be the most problematic issue for congregations.

We'll put an offering in the plate. We'll attend worship. We will even wear a t-shirt that has our church's name on it! We'll do all these things, but we tend to draw the line at actually verbalizing our faith with another person.

Why is it that we get tongue-tied when it comes to sharing our faith with others? One possible explanation is because we don't want to be associated with Christians who go about it the wrong way.

So, for example, this is what often comes to mind when we hear the word, "evangelism."

How about the Highly Judgmental Approach?

There's always the impersonal, annoying, and very old school "Door to Door" model of evangelism.

How do you feel about the Gimmicky Strategy?

I fell so blessed when I see a religious pamphlet on top of a restroom urinal. Not!

There's always the impersonal Facebook posts method.

Or, there's always the just plain bizarre approach.

Is it any wonder that many of us choose to simply not share our faith at all? All we have to do is examine church membership statistics to see that church involvement has been in decline over the past several years. In many communities, well over 50% of the population has absolutely no religious affiliation. In the community I serve, it's around 75%!

What if we used a more natural and conversational approach in sharing our faith with others?

Maybe, we shouldn't worry about being associated with the negative approaches to evangelism. What if we used a more natural and conversational approach in sharing our faith with others? A church member once told me how he was having a conversation with a neighbor in his driveway and it just felt appropriate to share a little of his faith journey during their chat. The neighbor thanked him for sharing his faith in this way.

These opportunities to naturally share our faith stories with others can happen while waiting in a grocery check-out line, in a coffee shop, while waiting for class to begin, at work, or during a conversation with a neighbor. There's no reason for us to be tongue-tied in being evangelists, unless you really think that wearing that great big gold cross around your neck is the way to go.

I know that image will be etched into my consciousness that rest of my life, but not in a good way.

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