Two Sides of Evangelism (a continued discussion)

Yesterday I posted a video and asked for your thoughts. If you’ve not yet watched it, please do.

The big question: Can we truly preach the Gospel without words?

I agree with the preacher.

People need to be told the truth, and we should seize open opportunities to tell them.

However, I fear this guy has forgotten the last part of 1 Peter 3:15. Yes, we need to preach the truth and, yes, we need to always be prepared with an answer, but we need to provide the truth “with gentleness and respect.” He missed the mark. Even toward this Christian woman he used intimidation and disrespect, evident by his persistent habit of interrupting her and smirking at her comments. I see this in Christians a lot, especially those arguing creationism. I’ve heard more than a handful of preachers blatantly suggest that people who believe differently are stupid. They’re not stupid, they’re lost. Refusing to listen and making fun of them is the opposite of what we should strive to do! We are to be known by our LOVE, not our knowledge or wit or clever debate skills.

Yes, the Gospel is offensive to those who are perishing, but it is also hope and life to those who will believe. We cannot emphasize one (the sin; fire and brimstone; death and separation from God) without the other (grace, love, forgiveness and freedom found in new life). I believe both sides should be presented together.

If the saying is true that you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, perhaps starting with the sweet stuff is more effective than a first course of condemnation.

Of course, the results of evangelism have absolutely nothing to do with us. We share the Gospel because we are commanded to do so, not because we are responsible for saving souls. That’s not our job at all. That’s God’s job and solely the work of the Holy Spirit. And yet we should be wise in our words and our actions. While God can certainly draw His children through our inadequacies and even poorly chosen methods, evaluating those methods is a good thing to do.

This leads me to the confronting woman’s perspective. Is pragmatism the best way to choose evangelistic tactics? Should we share only in proven methods or is “what works” a disguised way to tickle ears?

I agree with the woman.

The woman asserts that evangelism is more effective if we live as Jesus and don’t judge others; we should love and not condemn. I agree with her that relationships grant credibility and that actions can speak louder than words, but I also wonder how many people have come to her and point blank asked her to share the Gospel with them. Personally, that’s never happened.

Our neighbors all know we’re Christians. They know we go to church every Sunday and that I lead a Bible study in our home. They know our kids attended a faith-based academy. They know we went to a Christian college and have degrees in Bible. Those who have been in our home have seen Scripture verses plastered on the walls. Our faith is far from secret and yet none of them have asked me to share “the hope that is within us.”

As the preacher said, if we don’t tell them, how will they know? If we do not talk about it, will those who are not yet saved ever ask us about it?

An atheist friend of mine recently claimed that “If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.” She went on to say you lack a lot of things, but religion simply isn’t one of them.

My point? People who see us living righteously will not automatically conclude that we possess a direct line to God and truth. Most likely they’ll just think we’re really nice people. They’ll call us “good” and walk away with a smile. They will not knock on our doors asking the way to eternal life.

We need to tell them.

I am not a fan of open-air preaching or street evangelism. I’ve done it. It’s one of those rah-rah experiences that has nearly become an integral part of short-term missions here in America. It just makes me uncomfortable and don’t know how well it works. That doesn’t mean it never works or that it shouldn’t be done.

I am not a fan of covert believers. At some point in our “friendship evangelism” we have to open our mouths. We have to speak the truth and not simply assume that those who want to know will ask.

Open-air preaching may not always work; it may even turn some people away. But silence is guaranteed to never work.

Yesterday Mary commented about God’s goodness in providing various gifts to His children. All of these gifts can be used to share God in lots of different ways. That’s a beautiful thing! The only way to evangelize WRONG is to share lies about God and His Word. As long as we speak truth in love, God can use us. He can use us to reach those who will be His.

There is an urgency.

Isaiah 55:6 says to “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” The Apostle Peter repeats this in his epistles. We don’t have forever.

If your neighbor is late for work or running out for a date it’s probably not the ideal time to initiate an in-depth discussion of her depravity and need for salvation. While I encourage you to use discernment in your timing, I also admonish you not to wait too long. There is an urgency. None of us are promised tomorrow; today is the day of salvation. Choose your timing and your words wisely, but refuse to use the pursuit of wisdom as an excuse for a lack of action, a lack of obedience.

Your turn: What do you think?

Talk to me!

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