On my top ten list of fears, next to wasps, shark attacks and missing clearance sales, was evangelism. The mere idea of walking up to a stranger and handing them a pamphlet or asking them in an intrusive monotone if I could share with them about Jesus made me feel nauseous.
Sure, a good percentage of this fear stemmed from pride and caring how people perceived me, but another part of me did not like it because I knew how I reacted to such interactions, even as a Christian.
In being constantly convicted about my fear, I realized that what I did not like were the generic forms of evangelism, which seemed very impersonal. In my opinion, it appeared that those sharing were simply doing a job with rehearsed speeches, while portraying a “perfect” front, making the recipient feel condemned.
The more I thought about this and felt obligated to follow in their footsteps, I had to stop and ask myself, “did Jesus ever do anything of the sort, and was he not the ultimate example?” The various documented examples of him humbly approaching ordinary people came to my mind, like the story of the woman at the well (John chapter 4), whom he simply approached asking for a drink of water.
He spoke to her on her level and with love because his desire was for her to be free of the weight of her sins.
A friend of mine told me a story once about her childhood friend who never believed in God, whereas she was a Christian but never wanted to have the awkward conversation with her about Jesus, for fear of being dismissed.
Years later when that childhood friend came to know Christ through a different source and began to experience a joy that she had never felt before, she confronted her about why she had never told her about this joy.
My friend was speechless. After hearing this, I wondered why many of us Christians feel like the conversation is already doomed before it even begins. I also thought of a sermon that I had heard in which the pastor asked, if we had a treasure that we knew everyone else could have, why would we withhold that information from them?
Many Ways of Evangelizing
The analogy of the treasure reminded me that there was more than one way of sharing information. It also struck me that the mere fact that we were all created with different ways of doing things and different talents, it meant that we should not be limited to a box of all evangelizing in the same way.
Some of us may be great at holding an engaging conversation, while others are good at writing, or making people laugh, or painting, or dancing.
However, we also need not forget that there are cases in which a seemingly awkward conversation or a pamphlet brings about future thought, or a fruitful discussion which might be exactly what is needed. 1 Peter chapter 4 verses10 to11 implores us to use our gifts for ministry so that God may be glorified in all things.
Therefore, we all need to approach evangelism as simply a way of sharing the joy (treasure) that we have discovered. Notwithstanding seeking our Father’s guidance on how to go about it.
A Few Ground Rules
In doing this, we ought to be respectful of other people’s beliefs if we want them to do the same for us, and not feel the need to beat them over the head with a hammer if they do not respond favourably.
Therefore, shouldn’t our biggest aim be to allow others to first understand why we have chosen to follow Christ, and how it has genuinely impacted our lives. Although they might not understand, we need to understand that in many cases we are simply called to plant a seed in a person’s life, or to water an already planted seed, being that only God can bring about change.
Having said this, I urge us to examine our reasons for not wanting to evangelize in certain ways, in order to ensure that it is not because we do not want to be associated with Christ. As Jesus explains in Luke chapter 9 verse 26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels”.
Therefore, let us all make an effort to put this inhibiting fear behind us and do what God has called all Christians to do.
Credit: Danielle Jones