Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Truth About Evangelism

As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from March 16, 2003:

I was thinking a bit today about evangelism, especially in regard to a couple we have had the privilege of talking with lately, who are both seeking. I know there is so much bad evangelism in the world today, but I wonder what makes up good evangelism. I think the key is not necessarily that you have to know so much about your faith, but rather that you have to believe it. It is only then that you can encourage people to seek truth.

No one is going to be offended by being encouraged to seek truth, because it still respects their right to decide for themselves what they believe truth is. It respects their ability to reason. It prevents you from coming across as if you think you know better than they do. People know, deep down, that they were created for a purpose, even if they aren't sure what that purpose is. This means they know (at least on some level) that they have value, even when they don't always feel like it.

Traditional evangelism, in which we tell others what they need (Jesus), how to get it (prayer, repentance, relationship), and when they need it (now- or maybe yesterday), may certainly work in some situations. But it assumes they want to know our views, and may give the impression that we think we know more than them or are smarter than they are. Far too often, although we have the best of intentions, this pushes people away. It leaves too much opportunity for us to come across as bossy, self-righteous, or condescending. There is too much chance that our human way of doing things (which is often woefully inadequate), will get in the way of the Gospel.

But, if we believe Jesus Christ as truth, we can encourage others to seek truth, all the while knowing that God is faithful to draw truth-seekers to Him.

Sometimes people will ask what you believe, and of course we should use every opportunity to share our Christian faith. But oftentimes I have come into contact with people who aren't really looking for yet another opinion or belief- they want fact. They want truth. They want Jesus, even if they don't know it yet. If they seek truth, they will find Him.


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