Evangelism was the focus of our Statewide Retreat that I made mention of in the last post. Evangelism is something most Christians have heard is important but it really does seem like few Christians practice it. I have heard many sermons on evangelism and not counting this past retreat only one of them was not a guilt-trip trying to make me feel bad for past failures. Do Christians have a negative feeling toward evangelism even though cognitively we know it should be a positive thing? We beat ourselves up over it. Others beat us up over it. I also wonder if there isn’t some fear of the unknown involved. The only way to beat fear of the unknown is to get to know it – try it. How are we going to try what we have negative/guilt feelings about?
I really think the answer starts in three places – public/private prayer, the pulpit and in the classroom where a positive image of evangelism can be more regularly cast. Testimony can be powerful in giving evangelism a positive image where we listen to real stories about how others became Christians. We need positive role-models and that starts with our leaders. We need elders, ministers, and deacons who are actively evangelizing. Saying something is important doesn’t speak as loud as practicing something we say is important. We need outlets where evangelism is a central focus of what we do – LIFE groups can be one way to accomplish that. We need to put on our spiritual glasses to see the world in a spiritual way. When we do we can’t help but understand that there is a need all around us.
I really don’t know that the answer is we need to be better informed. While some people do need that, many of us have heard the “plan of salvation” all of our lives and know it forwards and backwards. Yet many people who know it so well say that the reason they don’t do it is because they don’t know how or are afraid of not having the right answers.
We need to change the focus. We have fear, anxiety, and guilt when we are the focus. The focus of evangelism is God and others, not self. While we are involved in the process we are not the focus. Understanding that can really help someone alleviate their fears because as they say, it is not about you/me.
What do you think are some reasons people don’t evangelize and what could we do to do a better job of reaching the lost and having the same passion for the lost as Christ did?