If you want to make a Christian uncomfortable, ask him how he’s been doing with his evangelism. Though I haven’t done any real research on the subject, I think it would be safe to say that this tactic has about a 95% success rate. Maybe it’s just the people I know, or maybe it’s just me, but it seems like most Christians aren’t great evangelists. Because of this, there is no shortage of books, instructional videos, and 12-step programs designed to help make us better at sharing the Gospel.
I participated in one of these programs once. I don’t know how many steps it was, but I do remember spending hours talking to strangers and finding much less success than I would have preferred. The whole process involved stopping people and asking them if they had time to participate in a quick survey. We would start with simple questions about how often they attended church and where they attended, and we would gradually get more and more personal until we were asking if they knew where they would go when they died. If they said no, we had an easy segue into sharing the Gospel.
Somewhere along the line, I started to feel guilty about the whole process, and it wasn’t just because what we were calling a “quick” survey usually took at least an hour. It was because what we were calling a quick survey wasn’t really a survey at all.
We were tricking people into listening to the Gospel.
When I first had the thought that we were being a little deceptive, I told myself it was probably okay to be deceptive in this situation. God gives us rules, but surely we can bend these rules if it means another name will be added to the Lamb’s Book of Life. Surely “Thou shalt not lie,” isn’t nearly as high on the priority list as “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
But the problem with this thought process is that it assumes you can’t obey both commands at the same time. It assumes the only way I’m ever going to go and make disciples is by lying to people. The only way I can get someone to listen to the Gospel is by dressing it up in a cheap gimmick.
What happened to the power of the Gospel? Don’t we believe what we have to share is compelling? Or are we just used car salesmen trying to get a lemon off the lot? If you think the Gospel you follow is a lemon, you may want to stop and think why you’re still following it.
I believe the Gospel is one of the most compelling stories there is. Redemption is a beautiful concept, and and you will not see it displayed more powerfully than in the story of a perfect God who allows his perfect Son to be tortured and murdered in an extravagant gesture to save a broken and imperfect humanity.
I know it’s standard Christian blogger protocol to have an I-struggle-with-this-too paragraph every few posts, but I wouldn’t be writing about this if it were a non-issue for me. It’s easy to forget the power of the story we follow, but if we want to be effective evangelists, it is important that we do not lose sight of that excitement and passion and that we find a way to communicate it when we share this Gospel.
Question of the Week
What are some of the things you’ve done to make your presentation of the Gospel more interesting? How do you draw the line between a compelling presentation and trying too hard to make the Gospel “more interesting?”