Friday, January 30, 2015

The Invite

If you are like me, you may have grown up with an image of stranger to stranger evangelism.  You dress up in your best clothes (plus tennis shoes) and go from door to door with a partner inviting your friends and neighbors to an evangelistic meeting at church or asking them if they'd like to the study the Bible. 

Or perhaps you had more of a personal evangelism in mind.  You are charged by your minister or elders to ask 5 people if they are ready to meet their maker.  You prepare your challenge, "If you died tonight, do you know where you would go?"  But looking your coworker in the eye, you are too embarrassed to confront them like that. 

If you feel uncomfortable with these methods, I'm with you.  I think we could offer a critique of both ways.  But not today.  Rather I want to encourage you try a third way.  A way where evangelism purposefully overflows into your ordinary life instead of becoming a confrontation either with a stranger or a friend.

As we talked about in the QuickStart post, this method of natural evangelism begins with finding people who are already in our lives (nearby or far away as Melissa pointed out) and praying for them diligently.  We keep our eyes open for opportunities to serve them, ways to strengthen our relationships, and then chances to invite them to know the Lord.

That invitation though is where we sometimes struggle.  With these confrontational methods lingering in our minds we struggle to see ways that we can begin to share the good news of Jesus with others without becoming a pest.*  An invitation could be as simple as inviting a someone to visit with other Christian friends in a casual setting, including them in doing something fun with the church (like a Super Bowl party) or suggesting they come to worship.  But this is only a place to start. Slowly but surely we must ask the harder questions, "Would you like to study the Bible?"  "Do you understand how a person is saved?"  "Do you know what happens when someone dies?"  

Recently at a youth rally, I talked with one of the other adults. She told me how she came to Christ.  Her story began as she questioned the church of her childhood, then came a long period of no interest at all and finally some wonderful friends entered her life.  They were people who seemed to be living out their faith, good parents and good people.  She said, "This church thing seemed to be working for them so when they invited me, I came."   However it was only after 2 years of attending regularly there that she came to understand the truth of the gospel.

She would have been willing even eager to study more.  But nobody asked.

So although I wouldn't encourage you to ambush your cubicle-mate with some prepared evangelistic question, don't let your first invitation be your last.  If you get a "no," wait and ask again.  If you get a "yes," then great!  Listen to them.  Hear their worries, objections and fear.  Be ready at any moment to share from the depths of your own faith.  And then ask again, this time one of those harder questions!

If all this sounds complicated and slow compared to door-knocking or lying in wait for friends with a surprise evangelistic attack question, it is.  Making disciples is a slow process; just ask Jesus.  It took him 3 years to get 12 guys ready to receive the Holy Spirit and bring his kingdom to its fulfillment.  We'll be walking with these people a long time. 
There's a good chance we'll still be praying for them 5 years from now whether they've accepted Christ or not. 

If you're still not sure how to start, beginning on Monday we'll be sharing 3 weeks worth of daily evangelism steps.  Each day of the week will have one simple action step towards sharing your faith.  I hope you'll follow along.  Not just read the posts, but one step a day begin the wonderful journey of leading the people you love to Christ.

*To be fair there will be people in the world who despite our best efforts at kindness will react badly to Jesus's very name.  Evangelists have to be tough.  We are no better than our master who was constantly rejected!


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. 

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