Is it all right to tell you that some things just bug me? Well...if it isn't all right...that bugs me too! Just kidding.
I was labeled in the late 70's when I arrived at Memorial and continue to bear up under the charges in 2011 that I am not evangelistic. That's weird to me because it is what I think about constantly. I might be off; yet I think I understand the accusations. I just don't agree with them.
I think the charges come from those who are hyper-activated at "winning the lost". By hyper I mean aggressive, in your face, set up studies, and meet at the baptistery at any hour of the day or night. I once lived on that intense lane. And....for those who love to live there, I just wish they could let other modes of evangelism be all right, too.
Yes, I lived there. I'm the one who came up with the idea of 600 baptisms in six months at Memorial in the late 70s. We shot out like cannons on January 1 and baptized several over the next couple of weeks. I think we baptized 7 that very first day. Eventually we wore down. Worse, none of those 35 or so baptized ones stayed around. None.
This changed my approach but it did not change my fire for evangelism. I changed because of my fire; not because of losing it. That's my explanation and defense and I sticking with it!
I noticed God converting people where I or others merely sowed seed. A word came from Indiana of a woman baptized at 2:00 a.m. because she read a very weak book I had written. A teen wrote me of finding that same weak book in her sister's closet, read it, and was baptized. On the stories go year after year.
The change that happened to me needed to happen. I once loved evangelism. If not careful, one can become egotistical and prideful at how ambitious we are for the lost while noting how others are less for they don't seem to possess such admirable passion. Not good. Now I find I love people whom I want to see led to Jesus. For me, this is different and important for my walk.
Jesus has changed me. I saw him teach his disciples to fish with nets; not rods and reels. I saw him work in such a way that baptized ones were not trophies; but the Father is the glory-receiving One. There was a time I would not enter into an evangelistic mode if I could not figure, as I viewed a person, how to move from meeting them to the baptistery. However, I have since learned the Holy Spirit--versus man's motivation--knows how to connect the Christian influence dots and make a disciple from a man or a woman via multiple connections. There goes that net fishing again.
So it bugs me to hear the charge after all these years that I am not evangelistic. I'm not even according to my old patterns. I know it. Yet, I really believe my old patterns were what needed to go in order to enjoy global evangelism centered in the Spirit of Christ rather than the tabulations of my short-sighted work.
Evangelism....I'm still for it. You might not think I am....but I am.