Friday, March 3, 2017

Fixing the Negative Image of Christian Evangelism

By:  Michael Kaplan, author of "7 Pillars of an Unshakable Christian Faith"

Modern Christianity looks much different than the early Church, even though God’s Word remains unchanged over time. Adherence to the faith is declining, apostasy in churches is increasing, and statistical data shows there’s little difference between the lifestyles of believers and non-believers.

Most Christians will admit there’s a problem; that’s a critical first-step for finding a solution. We need to know where we are before we decide where we need to go. The difference between those two points is the solution.

Before identifying the problems and presenting possible solutions, Christians need to address the “800-pound gorilla” in the room: evangelism. Christ’s “mission statement” to the disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,” propelled the early Church forward, and established Christianity as a global faith. The disciples had to share the Gospel of Christ with non-believers, create disciples, and teach them how to replicate their efforts.

Unfortunately, modern Christians are very uncomfortable sharing the Gospel, and that’s a problem. In many cases, it's due to the negative image associated with the word "evangelist."

Almost everyone in Western culture has experienced a case of evangelism run amok. It’s the fire-and-brimstone street pastor, blocking the way of pedestrians, while screaming in their faces, “Repent, or go to hell!” 

It’s the angry church pastor, caught on video, abusing and insulting his congregants. Regardless of what form it takes, it gives Christians a bad reputation and doesn’t reflect the true spirit of sharing the Gospel. 

Unfortunately, for every one bad example people see, there are thousands of great examples they never experience.

Not only is this type of evangelism counterproductive, it’s anti-biblical as well. The apostle Paul gave clear instructions to the Body of Christ about judging non-believers:

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do
you not judge those who are within the church?
But those who are outside, God judges.

~1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ~

Those misguided believers that take this approach to evangelism portray Christians as self-righteous, intolerant and preachy. No rational person would find that image appealing. 

Similarly, many evangelists use a scripted greeting when engaging people in public places. Although they mean well and are typically well-mannered, talking to people as if reading from a PowerPoint slide is disingenuous, and the impersonal nature of this kind of exchange doesn’t leave a good impression. 

Once again, for every one bad example people see, there are many great examples they never experience. Leave the bad examples behind, and focus instead on creating good experiences – and Christian disciples.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold
of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies
behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead;

~ Philippians 3:13 ~

I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you in your studies, and brings you to a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  Be Blessed.

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