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Should You Invest in Evangelism?

Most Christians who have had much training at all feel guilty. Now, that could be for a number of reasons, but I want to talk about one specific today. We feel guilty because we know there is a world in need of Jesus and we don’t know if we are doing enough evangelism.

You may feel pressure to talk to your co-workers or feel obligated to join a church team going door-to-door, but is this how Jesus did evangelism?

Bill Grandi wrote a great post last week that got me thinking. We invest a lot of time, energy (spiritual and emotional), finances, etc. into reaching out –or we feel guilty for not doing it, but let’s assume we do for a moment. Sometimes this is wonderful, but the subtle underlying message is “I’m doing this so you will say a prayer or come to church or maybe even just be nicer to me.”

Jesus didn’t live His life this way. Everything He did was an invitation. He healed, restored, taught, revealed the Father, revealed the Kingdom, forgave sins, on and on–and it was an invitation to a new life of faith saturated in grace. There were no strings attached.

He didn’t heal the sick to convert them. He didn’t drive out the demons because he was trying to get them into a church building (or synagogue). He didn’t teach about the Kingdom because He was building a platform for Himself to become a best-selling author and travelling speaker.

He invited people into the truth. His life and ministry was intentionally about people. He invested Himself completely into His disciples and those who followed, but everyone else had the same invitation as He was even known (and mocked) as the “friend of sinners.”

How do we live as an invitation?

We have to cut the strings from our love and kindness. I honestly don’t even think we should expect them to do anything–not even show up to a church service. As long as our goal is to get something out of someone, we’re not being like Jesus.

And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” –Luke 14:12-14

We are called to serve, not convert. We are called to love, not fill up church buildings. We throw our parties and invest everything we have into demanding a response, but I don’t see it in Jesus’ life and ministry. Through His words and deeds, He continually invited while investing in the ones the Father showed Him.

If we can grasp this, we can be relieved of a lot of guilt and condemnation. We won’t expend so much mental and emotional energy on trying to get sinners to repent and strategically win them over, and we’ll be their friends.

Jesus never taught an evangelism class. He sent out His disciples and said, “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Nobody is argued into the Kingdom, they receive the invitation because they see something different.

You are obedient in carrying His love and glory to a hurting world through word and action, but the results rest squarely in the hands of the Father. I believe we can still feel the responsibility of this without losing the purity in motivation.

Lots more I could say, but I’ll leave it there. I’m certainly not saying I have this all figured out, but this is where I am. What are your thoughts?

14 Comments

  1. I think our style of evangelism is birthed when we view the church as an organization and not as a group of people trying to follow Christ together. We have our events, try to increase membership, get more people in the doors because that’s how we view success. But what if we actually lived this truth and invited people to follow Jesus everywhere we go -- the grocery store, the workplace, school, the gym? It truly is what Jesus did and would do if he walked the earth in bodily form today.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Hope of the WorldMy Profile

    • I’ll say as a pastor that it’s hard to keep this thought process because you see the importance of the local church and the temptation is to think that more means you’re doing okay or better. This though puts the responsibility back on us as individual Christ-followers to live His love and not rely on programs or outcomes. It’s not easy, but I believe it’s worth looking into His heart! Thanks so much, Jason.

  2. Good stuff, I’ve definitely felt this more and more over the last serveral months. We can have the greatest words, grandest speeches, and most airtight arguments; but it really doesn’t amount to anything at the end of the day if we aren’t living out the instruction and example that He gave us. Many scriptures to point to about that.
    Philip recently posted..A Bunch of IdiomsMy Profile

    • Yeah, programs are great if the motivation is right. There are lots of good intentions that miss the mark and burn people out. I know these aren’t new revelations but they are really hitting home for me right now! Thanks Philip.

  3. Thanks for this post, Jason. Living an invitational lifestyle, like you described, treats people like people and not like targets. I wonder what the full conversation between Zacchaeus and Jesus looked like that night when they had dinner together. Whatever happened, Zacchaeus was so taken and compelled by the person of Jesus that the reaction was radical transformation. That whole exchange started with a self-invite from Jesus.
    Ryan Tate recently posted..Pioneers & DevelopersMy Profile

    • Wow, what if we saw a sign over every person we come in contact with that said, ‘I am a person not a target.’ I’m sure we would treat them differently. We’ve adopted for the most part a very divisive, us-vs-them stance that we just don’t see in Jesus’ life and ministry. Thanks so much, Ryan. Love your thoughts.

  4. Great points Jason. All too often we as the church expect to be the recipient in the form of other’s actions for our investment. Jesus just loved… No expectations… How did we get this far from His truth? His actions demonstrate exactly how we are to live…

    Man, good one. Great eye and heart opener…

    • I’m living this out right now and I have to say it’s messing me up! We all like to think we’re living as much like Jesus as we’re able, but those cultural ideas and norms set up camp and refuse to go. Thanks Floyd.

  5. I totally agree with your perspective Jason! We are called to be ambassadors and seed sowers. We should never have any strings attached as we seek to be these things to a lost and dying world.
    Kevin Martineau recently posted..An amazing example of sportsmanship and graceMy Profile

    • It can be tough to keep it straight, but that’s what grace is for, right? Thanks so much, Kevin. I appreciate your comment on the subject.

  6. Awesome post.
    Think how different our churches and this world would be if Christians began living like this? It would rock!
    Lord help me, I know I mess up but I strive to be more like Him and daily He grows me.
    This post goes nicely with my “Cost of Discipleship” post today about being salt and light.
    When we follow Christ we automatically become salt and light but what do we do with it?

    • TC, thank you so much. I agree, it would be incredible and in order for us to see the completed work of the Body, I believe it’ll have to become a deeper revelation to our lives! I’m with you--I mess up and fall short, but I’m so thankful that His Spirit redirects and puts us back on His path. It’s the beauty of relationship. Thanks again.

  7. Thanks for the mention jason. You have put your finger on a very important point: we are called to serve not convert. People are not notches on a belt but souls loved by an awesome God (and converted by Him).
    bill (cycleguy) recently posted..OutaHereMy Profile

    • The more I thought about it after reading your post, I saw that Jesus preached, taught, and spoke the truth but He never gave an altar call or instituting a discipleship initiative because that’s not where He was investing. He investing in strategic relationship and invited everyone to see the Father and know the truth. As I’ve said many times today in the comments, this is messing me up in a good way. He is an awesome God who can do a whole lot more--exceedingly and abundantly more--than my programs, strategies, and marketing. Thanks Bill.