pushy evangelism

September 29, 2004 | 6 Comments

A good friend posted this comment below in reponse to another entry, but I thought it was worth bringing up here for everyone’s attention…

I work at church right now that is pushes us all alot on evangelism. Which is probably a good thing in some ways. I often have to report to someone about it or in weekly prayer times I feel pressured to have some breakthrough to share about someone I’ve talked to.

The problem is I haven’t had any real deep spiritual converstations lately. I take a secular acting/drama class in Chicago and everyone knows I’m a Christian. We hang out after class and I am getting to know quite a few of them. But I don’t push the evangelism card…it doesn’t feel right. Plus my church is 1 1/2 hrs from the city, so its odd to invite any of them to anything.

But they are always saying that I need to invite more people to events and stuff…and evangelize more. Even though some events feel like they are for people twice my age.

In addition I have a trusted friend that says just being a Christian and everyone knowing it and watching me is a form of evangelism – and sometimes a good one. If I push it on people (like my church seems to want)…it just seems like it will push people away…I don’t know.

As it is this is my only real contact with anyone who is not a Christian…and I already am working way too many hours…so there’s not a lot of opportunity for new avenues of contact.

The church I work for is very similar to Willow Creek and are evangelism is kinda “consumery.”

Any comments?

  • I have a number of thoughts, all of which would likely affirm those areas where you are already uncomfortable. To keep it simple, I recommend you listen to Rob Bell’s message from this past weekend. He deals with this exact issue brilliantly…

  • although i don’t have any one breathing over my shoulder to bring others to church events, i do know exactly what he is talking about. just being someone who claims to follow Jesus and can be honest enough with the non believers around them that they don’t have all the answers or they won’t pass judgement…..that’s brilliant evangilism. most people in my line of work….going to church is not on their radar at all. i feel for them to want to go to church, they will have to meet Jesus before hand, in some other way or form. all we can do is try to be aware of when the opportunities come. then, we can do our best, in those moments, to reflect what Jesus was all about.

  • This reminds me of a couple of quotes.

    “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
    –Saint Francis of Assisi

    The other one I quoted on my blog quite awhile ago…

    “It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or ‘How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.’ That doesn’t make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are – just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it’s not a conversation anymore; it’s a pitch.”
    –Danny Devito (Phil), The Big Kahuna

    Journey Inward, Journey Outward has plenty to say on this as well.

    Performance-based Christianity, which it seems they are using subtley on Brewster, is more liken to churchianity and what Jeff VanVonderen calls “spiritual abuse.” I’ve heard too many horror stories of “friendship evangelism” where the “new convert” is ignored as those “friends” go on to claim their next prize. Too often Church Institutions ask us to be conformed salesmen, not Christians. What Brewster, and others, go through internally with things like this really strikes a nerve with me, so please forgive me if I’m come across a bit too harsh. Many of the people that come to us have been burned by churchianity, sometimes severely.

    Follow your heart. And have a heart after God. The moment you let guilt guide you, is the moment you lose yourself to being someone you’re not.

  • Random thoughts after reading your post again…

    I think the best evangelism is simply setting people in your church free to go out and love the people around them. (These thoughts are far from original with me by the way.) We have so much activity and program going on at our churches that our people are wrapped up doing church on a campus, rather than being church in the world. Evangelism can never only be about inviting people to an event. I think the best kind of events churches can do for evangelism is those where they try to provide avenues for people to connect relationally rather than where they present the gospel in a group format. But even with that, there are plenty of people out there who will never be interested in coming a ‘church’ activity, and we have to equip Jesus-followers to go and love them where they are at.

  • Gary

    I love the quotes that pastor draven put up there. I think the biggest is need is understanding what the Gospel is. To use N.T. Wright (and I’m sure a ton of other people, but he’s where I read it first), the Gospel, is not just telling people how to get to heaven. That’s a part of it, but there’s so much more. It’s about a better way of life here and now. It’s about touching the untouchable and loving the unlovable, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked…. As long as we simply reduce it to a list of verses that talk about heaven, evangelism will almost always come across as pushy, because all we’re trying to do is get them to believe an ideal. I think of James 2, we can tell someone “go be warm and well fed” until we’re blue in the face, but until we start feeding our message is empty. It’s like a diet version of Christ. It looks just about the same on the outside, but good luck trying to get someone to drink it. Basically, that’s what other people already said, but I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents

  • jamie

    I had to read that post a few times because I was confused about the insinuation that evangelisn is inviting people to church…appalled actually. I would think that although churches are places where we would obviously welcome an unbeliever, churches are specifically the body of Christ. We have a meeting in our house each Tuesday where we read the bible and talk about it, and people bring their friends, but we don’t invite them to church until they decide to follow Jesus. Sometimes I think that we rely on the church and the staff to answer all of our friends’ questions and convict their hearts, when really they want to observe how it works through our lives and the Spirit will convict. I actually would be scared that my unbeliever friend would be swept up in the activities and community and not understand the reason behind it all.