Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A NAGGING ACCUSATION THAT BUGS ME

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. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Friend, you are THE natural evangelist 24/7 and never doubt it. You are a major part of using every opportunity that God presents...and though you may never see/know what happens...you are like 'gorilla glue'...it sticks.

While sticks and stones won't break our bones...they sting and personally I dislike being stung. I just have to keep God and His wonderful repellent in hand...works every time.

I love what you do....

Brian said...

I've listen to you speak many times at the Tulsa Workshop since I was 13. Today I am 44. Many have come to know Christ by God using you to inspire me to become the face of Jesus and to plant seeds of hope and to tell the story of a grace-Savior!

Isn't that evangelism, too?!

Your the BEST!

philip sims said...

Thanks Terry for the post, i relate. I serve a 150 member church in West Texas. I was irked this past week with the same accusation, i am not evangelistic enough. Apparently I don't preach enough on the necessity of baptism, and too much on what God does when we are baptized. I am in the business of evangelism, and I take my role seriously as on who tries each week to help encourage a family of believers to get out there and tell a hungry world about our Saviour. I will continue to encourage and preach Jesus and Him crucified. Thanks for your time and efforts. The workshop was great as usual.
haskellcocpreacher@windstream.net

Anonymous said...

As you mentioned, we can sit back and take the burden off of our shoulders if we truly believe it's the Holy Spirit that convicts peopl of their sin and the need for Jesus.
And, forgive us for trying to rack up baptisms like notches on our belts. Our true conversion comes from what the Spirit does to our hearts.

Jay

Greg England said...

You can't win. I remember a preacher back when who was very passionate about Christ and was the most sought after evangelist in the South. But he was accused of being too flashy, too emotional. I think he left churches of Christ.

I finally stopped ending every sermon with a "five step plan" to people who, for the most part, had been baptized and had become rather frozen in their spiritual growth. And I was accused of the same thing.

You were the one who turned me on to natural evangelism and it's been a wonderful journey.

You nailed it with baptisms seen as trophies! Preachers bragged about that all the time. I have no idea how many people I've baptized. Don't want to know because I had so very little to do with changing their hearts.