In most churches across the U.S., there is an emphasis on evangelism, on ‘winning the lost’ to salvation. And that’s well and good, but I’ve always had problems with it.
Being an introvert, I’m just not that comfortable with walking up to complete strangers and telling them that they ‘need to get saved’.
Another problem I have with it is that I think too much emphasis is placed on getting people saved, and not enough on helping them grow in their new life. (Ya know, Jesus said ‘go into all the world making disciples’, not ‘go into all the world and have huge altar calls’.)
If people aren’t taught what they need to know about living this new life, they will eventually just fade away, because it’s not an easy life.
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And that’s the main reason I have a problem with evangelism – what are we inviting people into?
Are we telling them this is an easy life, with no problems?
Are we telling them that if they ‘get saved’ all their needs will be met and most of their desires, too?
Are we preaching a gospel of good works?
And what about God – what are we telling people about who God is and why He wants us to be saved?
In most churches I’ve been in (and that’s a lot, over the last fifty years), Christianity has been presented as a formula or a set of rules for life. And God has been depicted as either a heavenly Santa Claus or a stern Judge waiting to condemn us for the teeniest infraction.
But as I make this journey ‘farther up and farther in’ to His kingdom, as I discover that most of what I was taught is wrong, I find myself even more reluctant to ‘win souls’ than ever before.
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Because this life ain’t for wimps.
It’s not a social group, and it’s not a spiritual version of Home Shopping Network.
It’s more like a mail-order marriage – where you leave everything familiar and head off into uncharted territory, with a new spouse you barely know.
This ‘Christian’ life will require you to give up everything you hold dear – possessions, friends, family, dreams. The way you look at the world, the way you spend your time, the way you see yourself.
It’s all gotta go.
And the farther down this road you go, the farther away from people you are – unsaved people, mostly, but also other ‘Christians’, because many who attend church are not on this journey.
This can be a pretty lonely life.
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Yes, it’s a very rewarding life as well.
You learn to know God in such intimacy that He becomes everything to you.
He blesses you in material and emotional and spiritual ways that you never dreamed of.
And it’s worth every pang of loneliness, every possession/friend/dream you leave behind.
It really is!
But when we ‘go out soul-winning’ we should tell people this!
Tell them that what we are inviting them to is a life-long journey into being different;
into a different way of thinking about the world and life;
into a journey that leaves everything familiar and dear;
into loneliness alleviated only by God’s presence;
into hardships and dangers survived only because He sustains and protects;
into being so different from the world around you that you never fit in.
This kingdom life ain’t for wimps. It’s for people who have discovered that loving and being loved by God is worth more than everything in this world. It’s for people who have decided that this world and its ways are not enough. And breaking free of this world is gonna be tough. But they’d rather deal with that than stay where they are.
How many souls would ‘get saved’ if we presented the gospel like that?
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May you be blessed along your journey with at least one or two others who share the same destination and a similar passion for God.
May He continually uphold you with His right hand, and provide everything you need for your journey.
And may you be shown how to ‘evangelize’ those you meet, in ways that actually show them what they are being invited to.