How do we view evangelism in the day and age in which we live? Last week, I entered into an online discussion with some others to debate this topic. For contextual purposes, let me say what started this was the conversion of another to Christianity and the individuals reporting it saying there was no need for “preaching” or “witnessing”; both terms that can be overused and have different meanings depending on who is using them.
I’m not downing any one method here. I am a believer that we need different ways to reach different people. My favorite illustration of this is in a book co-authored by Steve Sjogren called “Irresistable Evangelism”. The illustration used in the book was one of playing golf. At the beginning, you use certain clubs to get closer to the hole. Once you are “on the green”, then you use different clubs to chip and approach the hole and then, use a putter to finish the hole. The authors discuss varying ways to witness as different “clubs” and show the value of each.
What is unmistakable though is the point at which one must take personal responsibility for themselves and willingly admit their sinfulness and ask Christ into their lives as savior. Now I ask, do we still believe that? Or do you think it’s not a method that is necessary anymore? If so, why? Can we simply “love” others into heaven? Do you believe that a witness requires asking someone if they are ready to “receive” Christ or do you just ask them to “come to Christ” with no call for repentance? I wonder if that is biblical? I personally don’t believe it is.
In many churches today, I see several people who are great “lip service” Christians; those who claim Christ as savior but have little fruit to show for it and when you ask them about their salvation you get a very vague and awkward response. For me, I can clearly point to a hot spring afternoon in 1985. I was finishing up my chore of mowing the lawn when a short older guy in a suit named Bill Fraker came to our home to talk to us about Jesus. Unknown to Bill, I had been searching desperately as a teen to find some real truth in the bible. I was anxious to talk to him! As he began, I heard truth about my life and I knew I wanted to change. I asked Bill how I could change and he told me to ask Jesus to forgive me. He was quick with his bible and with a ready nod, I prayed to God to save me right there in my frontyard; bare chested, in faded grass stained jeans, and tennis shoes. I never once believed I wasn’t saved but it wasn’t until a few years later when as a young married man, that I solidified my life in Christ. I was never “lost” but I had strayed some. I had decided that I wanted to live my life with my new bride for Christ. Roger Hogan met with me many times in my very first job at a radio station in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and at the Cape Girardeau Free Will Baptist Church, I went forward during an altar call and surrendered my entire life to Christ. I had never went forward in a church so for me, this solidified what I had promised Pastor Fraker just a few years ago. That I would do my best to study and be a servant. The rest is history. From those early days, I would never have dreamed I would be a pastor myself nor that I would have the online platform to write. God has blessed me in many ways.
To bring this all full circle, I’ve contemplated what my life would have been like if I hadn’t heard truth presented clearly that I needed to do something to receive God’s forgiveness. Not works. Just saying I’m sorry and acknowledging I was to blame. In today’s culture of “It’s someone else’s fault”, I’m not sure that message is as prevalent as it used to be. I’m only 41 (for another week anyway) and I’ve seen many changes in the way we approach the whole idea of church. While I am open to many styles and ideas, one thing I am not open to is to dismiss the witness we are called to share and the call for repentance of sin to be saved. Am I out in left field these days? It is my conviction that without this part of the salvation equation, all else is useless in the end.
I would be curious what you think. Comment and let’s discuss it.