I’m just sayin…

You know, I’m not the hard core evangelist kinda guy. I don’t pass out tracts, don’t stand up in a crowd of people to preach, and I don’t wear ‘Christian’ t-shirts with a Gospel message so that perhaps the spirit would use the t-shirt to save men. I’m much more comfortable being the quiet guy wearing the Abercrombie t-shirt, or the just fellowshipping with the brethren over coffee, or cooking fajitas at my house for my brothers.

I’m not into Ray Comfort, or the popular evangelical tactics. I don’t really like the attitude of ‘us against them’ in evangelism, and I don’t really like the whole ‘fighting the culture’ mentality that some evangelists take. In this sense, I reject the whole transformationalist messsage carried in evangelical pop-evangelism. I’m unashamedly opposed to transformationalist (cha ching…two kingdoms huh Daniel?) views of culture. The culture is not to be confused with the cult. There is a sacred and a secular.

I don’t think of myself as an anti-evangelist, although they have given me good reasons to be anti-evangelism because the abrasive attitude of some evangelists reminds me more of Westboro Baptist Church, than the Church Christ founded.

I think apologetics isn’t evangelism, and evangelism is much more important than apologetics. I don’t confuse the two categories, while I do recognize the necessity of both. Apologetics is used to shut people up, evangelism is heralding the message of the Gospel, the announcment of forgiven sins, and the reconciliation of a people to God. 

I’m not big into confrontational evangelism, I am big into relational evangelism. I do witness to cousins, friends, brothers and sisters. Although, I have witnessed to the occasional stranger, for example the young hispanic gangster who asked me for a cigarette (gasp! I even smoked one with him!). It was an interesting interaction of culture, I’m a hispanic but I’m not a ‘cholo’  and while my background may have some ‘cholos’ in it, I don’t familiarize with the subculture they’ve created. Of course the message transcends the culture, so whether it was a yuppie, or a cholo the words of sin, righteouness and judgement all mean the same thing to both groups of people. I would think that I presented a coherent message in a gracious manner. No need to yell, no need to run him through a list of sins – he knew he was evil. I didn’t attract him by giving him dollars, being tied up, or playing a game. All he wanted was a cigarette.

I don’t mind open air preaching, but I’m not an open air preacher. I do think some tracts make the Gospel herald look like an Entertainment Tonight reporter with some Gospel mixed in. But, I also don’t think the other methods are evil, or should be excluded from the life of the Christian in evangelism.

I guess, what I want to say is that sometimes we run into the zealot, the guy who can’t stop sharing Jesus, the guy who treats sharing Jesus with people in his manner, his way, and only his way as if it is the supreme act of piety, as if God’s work will not be done if we don’t evangelize in that way, at that time, in that manner. I don’t need to stand on a stool, passout million dollar bills or chick tracts to get someones attention. I already have some peoples attention, why not focus on them and include the occasional stranger?

Finally, what about the church? After all the Lord commissioned the disciples, and people have interpreted that as implying the Church. If its the comission of the church to evangelize the nations through preaching and the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, wouldn’t it be beneficial to invite unbelievers to the gathering of the Church? The great commission wasn’t given to us as individuals but the chuch as a corporate entity.


12 Comments to “I’m just sayin…”

  1. Jesus should have stopped that women at the well you was telling people about Jesus… just saying ;D

    In that case it seemed to be an overflow of that women’s encounter with Jesus and she wanted others to share in it. Seems to be a natural react for us to share things we like with others we want to share in that joy (for example when we tell someone about a good restaurant, or a good movie, or a joke we’ve heard, ect…)

    No doubt people are doing dumb things and calling it evangelism but I don’t want to get my theology or practice from knee-jerk reaction (not saying you are, just food for thought)


  2. Well, I don’t believe that only elders should evangelize, but I do think that there is this tendency in the hyper-evangelists to bind the conscience of other Christians, and thats what bothers me. What wrong with friendship evangelism? I’d do that over any other method simply because I’m more comfortable, I’d also invite people to church, I don’t like silly tracts but I shouldn’t be forced to, or my conscience shouldn’t be bound to that of another simply because I don’t like em. I’m not sinning because I don’t follow a particular method, or means of evangelism.

    And, whether we like to admit it, those of the WOTM crowd speak this way at times.

    • I agree with you, don’t let your conscience be bound and let us likewise not bind another’s conscience (not all WOTM folk are like that, not even Todd Friel, he is very careful to tell people to make it their own and just use these basic principles which is merely “law to the proud, grace to the humble”)

      • Jason,
        The general attitude of the WOTMites is that ‘friendship’ evangelism or ‘relational’ evangelism is unacceptable. I’ve heard Todd Friel say things against this, I mean he can have his opinion all I’m asking is for tolerance, I guess. I like Trish, and Todd, and all of those guys but I think that there can be an imbalance at times by the WOTMites.

      • comon’ you know what type of “friendship evangelism” they reject… the kind that is no evangelism at all.

        And no doubt they would agree we are to adorn the gospel (that is spoken) with our lives (that are lived). No doubt they evangelize those closest to them,… they just do that plus to total strangers.

  3. I understand where you are coming from on a lot of this, Javy. My wife is fairly introverted, if you haven’t noticed, and she is more comfortable sharing the gospel with people she knows. There are, however, two problems that I’ve seen with “friendship” evangelism.

    (1) Some take it to mean that they just have to interact with their unsaved friends in such a way that their wit, style, and humility cause the other person to ask, “There’s something different about you. What is it?” The problem is most people don’t care to know that what’s different about you is that you realized what a wretched sinner you are, heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, turned from your sins and put your faith in Him, and have been battling sin ever since. This subset of “friendship” evangelism is called “lifestyle” evangelism, or as I call it “cowardice” evangelism.

    (2) The second problem I have encountered under the umbrella of “friendship” evangelism is that it is simply more difficult for many to evangelize people who they’ve befriended for weeks, months, and perhaps years without sharing the gospel with them. This happens as a result of a sense of shame and hypocrisy when they realize that they’ve been withholding from them the message that has the power to save them from an eternity of damnation. After all, if it was truly important, wouldn’t we have shared it with them sooner?

    • Well, I mean I think Billy that some people try to pass of Christianity as if its some product we want to sell. Like a sales pitch and I don’t think some people appreciate it. There is no difference b/w the sales man at my door ,and the Christian passing out tracts in a fury trying to get as many out as possible. As if they were coupons for church forgiveness. Sometimes, I wonder how that consumer mentality has affected our evangelism.

  4. bro, “Apologetics is used to shut people up” was……. well since I know you and we’re cool I’ll tell you what I thought it was…. That was a bit ignorant. So now, can you please clarify that statement? I do understand that apologetics and evangelism are two different areas but do you mean “apologetics IN evangelism is used to shut people up?”
    Just want to understand what you mean.

    • Well, I would say that apologetics is simply for a defense of the proclamation of the Gospel, and the faith ‘once and for all delivered to the saints’. Evangelism is sharing that faith that you’re defending and it might involve a defense but not necessarily. Obviously we assume that this story is true, and historical but I’m not going to dig into the archaeology evidence for the Christian claims regarding the emtpy tomb or something or while I can share the death and resurrection of our Lord, it won’t always involve a defense of the canon and how it came to be, etc. I might be wrong on this, and open to correction but thats how I’ve reasoned it out.

  5. Javy,

    there is a couple of things i think that are a root for the view you are holding. one is that many people have what is known as gift projection where because they have a desire and a certain gift they make it almost compulsory to others to be the same way in how they are involved in evangelism and the local church. two i believe that a lot of it could be more of a back lash to well intending people that are foolish, as we all are, in trying to make Christ known and thus it could be causing you to look at where the other side of the pendulum could be swinging i.e. charismatic misuse and complete cessationism. just think through it slowly and purposefully as you meditate upon the WORD so that you will gain a heart of wisdom.

    • Josh,
      I’m not denying the or forbidding open air preaching, or advocating that we stop it at all, but rather sharing what I think is a more balanced method that can incorporate all of the evangelistic tactics that have been made, and avoid the bitter back biting of the zealots who seek to impose one method of evangelism on every Christian. The root of my view is my concern for the proper propogation of the Christian gospel and how sometimes we seem to confuse other priorities with it. I don’t think its wrong to share the Gospel with your family or friends eventually. Or develop close friendships and invite them to church, I don’t think its wrong to encounter someone at a shopping mall and give them a serious tract with a serious message.

      I do think it very unwise to use silly facts, argue against evolution, attack atheism, or use other tactics to draw crowds and then use some Gospel message and call that evangelism. We share the law and the gospel, we dont’ talk about a 6000 year old earth, Darwins evil, evidence of a universal flood, we share and speak of an historical event a time in history when God killed his son for his people and brought him back from the dead.

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