Saturday, July 10, 2010

Friendship Evangelism

There is a topic that has been the source of much debate in certain circles, and that is the topic of Evangelism. Over the past six and a half years I have been a Christian and one of the things that God created me to do was to share the gospel. As a babe in Christ I was in a church that promoted friendship evangelism. I can remember my pastor saying things like "you cannot talk to someone about Christ until you have earned the right". His Idea was that you have to befriend someone and gain their respect in order to have the right to speak into their lives. I agreed with this and went along with it wholeheartedly. I would have never thought about talking to a complete stranger about the things of God.

Then it happened. I was watching TV when I saw a funny little man walk up to complete strangers and have a conversation about things like sin, hell, judgment, righteousness, the cross and forgiveness. And guess what? They actually listened and stuck around to hear what he had to say! My beliefs were challenged and I knew that I would never be the same. No more excuses about not having time to spend with people? before I could only hope that they would stay committed to the gym long enough for me to build enough trust where I could share my faith. I often wondered; How long do I have to wait before I can mention the things of God?

The more I have thought this through over the years I have come to a conclusion. If what my old pastor said was true, then we have a little snag. You see, that same church was all about inviting people to church in order that they might hear the gospel and be converted. Their hope was in the word of God and in the pastors ability to communicate it. But wait, to follow the original logic of friendship evangelism, then the pastor would have had to earn the right to speak into their lives also; Right? He had never met any of those visitors before. As a matter of fact most of the time it isn't until after the service that most people are introduced to the pastor. Sometimes it was because they had responded to an altar call and other times it was a quick handshake or a meet and greet.

You might say that this is different. These people were more than likely already friends with someone from the church who invited them, therefore they came and heard what was being said voluntarily and could have left at any time and may have never come back. I honestly do not see the difference between this and sharing your faith in the open air. Or approaching someone on the street using a gospel tract and then asking what they believe happens when someone dies? They are under no obligation to stick around and answer any of your questions. They are free to walk away at any time.(more than likely with less stress than getting up and walking out of a church) And here is the truth. Most people are more than happy to tell you what they believe and then listen to what the bible says. All this in under ten minutes. Sometimes people even THANK you for sharing with them.

In conclusion I want to stress this. I am not by any stretch of the imagination saying that you shouldn't invest your life in the lives of others in the hope that they will come to Christ. I am only saying that if all we do is be kind to people and wonder when they are going to ask us about "the hope that lies within us" then we have missed the point of the word "Evangelism". I watched a show about the self proclaimed cult know as the Macheads. And they actually have people on staff with the label "Evangelist". One of them was interviewed and made the statement that the word Evangel means " bringing good news". This is coming from a computer company!

I also want to stress the fact that the pastor I am talking about left the church I was attending and took a position somewhere else. He was a good pastor who loved the Lord and the lost. I just happen to disagree with him on his position concerning evangelism. And I still consider him a friend and brother. Church is good, Friends are good and sharing the gospel requires that we open our mouths and speak.

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