Today I will be discussing an article from the Christian Post titled ‘Confesions of a Recovering Evangelist‘ written by Doug Pollack.
While reading this article I kept thinking to myself how something so simple seems to have been lost. Through my years my evangelism has morphed a bit here and there as I have grown in wisdom. Yet, one thing has been a pillar for me. That is to have conversations with people, to treat each person I meet as if they were the only thing that matters in that moment. This isn’t always easy to do. I am a sinner and there are always times when I haven’t done my best and I either fail to do things or I leave things undone. Yet, to think evangelism is just a mini sermon or some elevator pitch isnt very personal and I can’t imagine anyone truly feeling that you would be on the same level with them when you speak at them instead of speaking with them
“I’m on my way to speak at one of the largest churches in Colorado. If I gave you 30 minutes to tell these Christians what not to do to have a spiritual conversation with you, what would you tell them?””CONFESIONS OF A RECOVERING EVANGELIST
This isn’t to say that you should “be the Gospel” or “preach the gospel and if you have to then use words” or some other terrible cliche that elevates works of kindness over the Word of God. It is to simply combine the two. Bring the Word of God into the conversation but don’t steamroll the conversation either. Steamrolling the person only makes them feel like you are either talking down to them or trying to sell them something.
Speaking with someone, in a true conversation, is to show honor and respect to that person. When you are only interested in getting in your “sales pitch” you are speaking to them in a way that comes across as “I am only doing this to earn my way to heaven”, or to “fill a quota”.
We don’t often think of grace extended to our neighbor the way that God extends grace to us. Instead of scattering little acts of kindness that is often forgotten by the recipient we would do well to treat each person as if they were the most important person we could speak to for that day.
“Without any hesitation, he said, “I’d tell them if you are not willing to listen to me, I am not going to listen to you. Every conversation I’ve ever had with Christians has been one-sided. They always want to do all the talking and expect me to do all the listening.”CONFESIONS OF A RECOVERING EVANGELIST
Through the Grace of Christ we have been forgiven and loved by God. This love is much deeper than trying to invite someone to a Divine Service. To love someone is to be their servant. To truly care about their needs, hurts, and to listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to agree with them and at times they may make some harsh and untrue statements about God but loving them means hearing them and empathizing with them. Through this empathy you can help to share the message of sin and grace, law and Gospel. Even if they don’t care to listen you can share with them the blessings you can, whether that be financially, physically, or just to offer to listen to them.
We may think of sin as being vertical between God and man yet sin effects us in our relationships horizonally with one another. This leaves many people hurting and separatated from eachother. God came to heal the sin and hurt that we cause eachother as well. There is horizonal forgiveness that happens when someone is brought forth from the forgiveness of Christ. Out of the new life in the Spirit grows fruit of all sorts that help us in the second table of the Law (Commandments 4-10).
“For it is a far higher thing to honor than to love one, inasmuch as it comprehends not only love, but also modesty, humility, and deference as to a majesty there hidden.”LUTHER’S LARGE CATECHISM; FOURTH COMMANDMENT
With Pierced Hands and Feet
God loves all of us. Christ paid the debt that we couldn’t pay, and ransomed us back to Him but also to eachother. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and that is a message that sometimes gets lost. When we evangelize to the world, it is imperative that we reflect this love of God outward toward others, not superficially as a salesman, but as Christ comes with pierced hands and feet, to say “you are worth this much to me“.
We fail to love others like Christ. This much is obvious. By the time we have our lunch we have already murdered someone in our heart, had an affair in our mind, lied or spoken higher of ourselves than someone else, and have been angry that someone else seems to have more than us. Yet, Christ comes to you with pierced hands and feet and says “I love you this much and I Love them this much as well”.
“For in the sight of God faith is what really renders a person holy, and alone serves Him, but the works are for the service of man.”LUTHER’S LARGE CATECHISM; FOURTH COMMANDMENT
People are to be cherished and honored, because they are created by God, for God, to be loved by God and He died and rose for them to because God is love. This is why I evangelize the way that I do. Why I care the way that I do, why it is never about numbers because people are not a number. God calls each and every one of us all by name. We all have a name, a soul, a body, and a Redeemer; because each of us is a person made by God and loved by God. May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.