Saturday, March 12, 2011

BREATHE EVANGELISM

Life is evangelism for the disciple.  I love the concept.  But I didn't in my formative years as a minister. 

When the church of Christ was robust in evangelism back in the inaugural workshop days of the '70s, a misnomer was planted.  Evangelism was when a believer could reach to an unbeliever, set up a study (cottage meeting) and baptize that person.  That was evangelism.

What that insufficient concept did was shut down 95% of the disciples....including this new upstart of a preacher.  I was a miserable, and a miserable failure at that, because preaching school buddies were reporting successes here and there while I never stood in a baptistery one time. 

But God taught me something.  Evangelism may come for some in the form of meet, greet, study and immerse, but not with the most of us.  It comes in insignificant baby steps often directed by God in such a way we don't notice.  We have nothing major to report if we believe baptizing is the only report.

I've learned that God works....often out of sight.  Our job according to scripture is to plant and water.  God, it says, will give the increase.  I began to hear of some being converted because they read one of my books while I was at home asleep and totally unaware.  I was involved in other conversions because I had encouraged the seed-sower.

God reaches people through hundreds and thousands of "believer encounters".  Courtesy to a waitress by behaving like Jesus is evangelism.  Patience at the cash register, when aware of God working, is evangelism.  Playing golf on purpose for sowing new seed or watering someone else's is teamwork evangelism.

Jesus didn't send his corp out to fish for men with a rod and reel seeking a personal trophy.  No, he sent them out with a net that we---including those now in the grave---continue to draw the net for a catch of many.

When I first began to practice this I was caught off guard by the 5% who meet, greet, study, and baptize.  They spread the word that I had gone weak and no longer cared about souls.  The rumor really and deeply hurt me.  I hadn't retracted evangelistic efforts.  I had moved more completely into a realm which bears much more kingdom fruit and brings about countless new births. 

There are those who say the Tulsa Workshop is no longer evangelistic.  Ah, how errantly they speak.  Do you really think that when we have a children's chorus or a Christian concert or a class without the words "evangelism" or "winning souls" in them that these have left the faith and specifically the mission of soul winning?  Hardly.  They are intentionally set in place to thrill the those in attendance regarding the Abundant Life in Jesus...and that they will spread the word!!!

And....it happens!

Evangelism isn't just a Tuesday evening outreach.  Rather, it is a 24/7 awareness of needy souls and we contribute to the Jesus Influence by pondering how we might cheer on such a neighbor.  My word to you is not to schedule evangelism.....but to breathe it.

6 comments:

Terry said...

That's one of the most encouraging posts you've ever written! Thank you.

norseman said...

Terry, this is an AWESOME explanation of what evangelism is. It frees each person to use their unique gifts. well said my friend!!

norseman said...

Terry, this is an AWESOME explanation of what evangelism is. It frees each person to use their unique gifts. well said my friend!!

Blogging by Tina said...

I SO MUCH want to believe this, but I was so indoctrinated with the "meet-greet-study-baptize" model when I first became a Christian that it still affects my thinking, even though it's been over 20 years since I've been part of a church that teaches it. I feel like a failure because I have personally studied the Bible with a handful of people (admittedly, not very many) and NONE of them became Christians as a result.

Greg England said...

I can agree with everything except the idea of playing golf. You've seen me "play" golf. You even commented to me that my pre-game range practice didn't seem to help my game at all! I agree with the other commenters ... this is an encouraging blog and an encouraging way to see evangelism because it can come so naturally.

Anonymous said...

Which book? I relate to Tina and your advice about “baby steps” and agree. When it gets to the point of study though, I have trouble. Sometimes when I get their attention in learning more or accept something to read, they may be uncomfortable about following me to a preacher’s office for further help or to call one over (I feel like we’re ganging up on them). I believe when the “rubber meets the road,” they don’t believe the messenger, me, that I am qualified to study with them. Is there a book (easy for dummies) you recommend to guide you through scripture or to give to someone that encourages the student? I have looked at some things (either they are not me, not my style or too time consuming in the recipient’s mind). j