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?