…or what is evangelism? Far too many years ago I attended a Christian concert in a large church in Portland, Or and the band leader was telling his audience about their day as they had spent their time witnessing for the Lord. he was going on about how one man who had not eaten in three days accepted Jesus as his savior and they were happy about that.
So much so that they had to tell about it during the concert. Unfortunately, that was all they did as the man went away hungry with his physical needs unmet. The impression I get from these people is that they are looking for some sort of affirmation from other believers that they are living the Christian life or they want to feel good about their activities. They seek God’s approval for their ‘witnessing’ yet fail to see or ignore God’s disapproval for their failure to help sustain that convert or even feed him.
Far too often, Christians think that their whole duty is just sharing the gospel message, the four spiritual laws or some other handy-dandy evangelistic tool that makes sharing their faith easier. Unfortunately for them, the Bible speaks of a far more encompassing duty that comes with the Christian faith that cancels out this ‘easy way of evangelism’ and lets the new convert know that Jesus and the believer cares about them , far more than a new notch on their spiritual gun.
What is evangelism? Believe it or not wikipedia has the best definition of the term:
Evangelism is the preaching of the Gospel or the practice of giving information about a particular doctrine or set of beliefs to others with the intention of converting or Conversion of others to the Christian faith. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelism)
This gives us the best idea about what it is people with the gift of evangelizing do. For the most part, their duty is to preach the gospel in a manner that convinces people they are in need of a savior. But this gift doe snot overshadow or eliminate the other part of the duty that comes with evangelizing– making disciples. This part means we need to look after not only the new converts’ spiritual needs but that we follow the Bible in looking after their physical needs as well.
Case in point that man who had not eaten in 3 days. We do not leave the people hungry and vulnerable to evil’s attempts to get hid soul back. We feed them physically and spiritually helping them strong in both areas of their life to the point that they can take care of themselves.
The true believer who is that evergreen tree knows this. They know that the whole teaching of Jesus applies to evangelism not just one set of verses and they work on getting the right people doing the right spiritual duty in order to make the evangelist’s job a little easier. In other words, we work together. The evergreen trees, and others at different spiritual growth, work before the evangelist by preparing the soil he is to reap. That means we do good works for those without ulterior motives, but simply showing the true nature of Christianity and Christ and they work after the evangelist has reaped the prepared field by providing both spiritual and physical aid to those who choose to accept Christ as their savior.
All the while continuing to prepare the field once again by continuing to show Christ’s love to those who did not decide at that particular harvest. In my experience in the church, it seemed that everyone wanted and wants revival to take place. They are tired of fearing crime and other sinful acts and would like to see all of their community or neighborhood come to Jesus.
For the most part, it is the people who reside in the thorny or rocky ground that seem to call for revival the most; yet that call really means that they want revival in the other guy who believes differently than they or the unwashed masses that lurk and live outside of the church property. They are not calling for revival for themselves as they feel they are already spiritually mature and right.
The evergreen tree believer knows that revival begins with them and they seek out areas in their lives that God wants them to change instead of pointing the finger at others and demanding they change. Most evergreen believers have experienced revival and have moved on past square one, developing. growing, enduring pruning and so on so that they do not call for revival as often as those whose spiritual life is choked with self-righteousness and wanting to look spiritual.
They know that God will bring it at the right time when the congregation is ready to handle the influx of people correctly. They simply continue to prepare the field as Christ taught waiting patiently for that day when their unbelieving neighbors indicate that they want to change. Evergreen tree believers do not force revival or evangelism but like the old, experienced farmer they bide God’s time working unceasingly getting everything ready for when it is time to do the actual spiritual harvest.
Evangelism is not a human driven effort but a God led one. In other words, we do not do half a job and expect a pat on the back but we do it right the first time so we do not have to do it all over again while hardening the hearts of those we want to save along the way. Leaving people in their misery is not the Christ way to do evangelism. Leaving them to work it out for themselves is not the Christ way of making disciples. We have to show that God cares thus we need to do more than speak a few words and require a simple decision that can be made with the wrong purpose in mind– to make the believer go away and leave them alone.
The believer will go away thinking that they saved a soul but God knows that it was a trick and the believer was fooled.
Another area that does one form of evangelism is the area of rescue missions. These people rent or buy buildings and seek to ‘rescue’ people from the streets, whether it be from homelessness or some other activity that relies upon the survival of alternative activities that are looked upon unfavorably by ‘upstanding citizens’. There are good and bad groups that work in this area of Christian life and sadly too many of the good people are heavily influenced by the source of their funding.
These missions usually offer a night’s stay and a hot meal all for the price of enduring some gospel message (this is done every night of the week) sometimes they will withhold the hot meal and the place of rest till someone ‘comes forward’ to accept Christ as their Savior. Now this is difficult because these missions usually have the same faces seated in their chairs every night. The men and women know that listening is their ‘fee’ for what they are about to receive and they are not interested in accepting the invitation to accept Christ. They just want to eat and sleep safely.
Once it got so bad that that the homeless group got together and elected the token sinner for the night. In other words, this person would go forward as soon as the invitation was given and the rest would be allowed to go in and eat. The preacher is happy and he can report to the local churches that souls were saved and the homeless are happy because they can get their meal and cot for the night.
Most of the good people who run these missions know that these ‘evangelistic’ efforts are of no value but they must do these services as the local churches demand that they take place or they will not provide their part of the funding. The local churches do not see that their ‘solution; is not meeting the problem but adding to it. They do not see that a gospel message every time is not God’s way of solving this big issue.
The local churches think they are doing something for God and these people when in reality they are not doing anything at all. Instead of ministering to these people the way God’s wants, the rescue missions are ministering to them the way the human local church desires and that is not good. Too often, the local churches interfere with God’s work.
Evangelism has to be done God’s way or it will not provide the result God can bring and wants done. Those believers who have become evergreen trees can change this if given the opportunity. The Bible says that God desires that all men be saved but that desire is often blocked by those who are choked with thorns or lost in rocky land. We need those true believers, those evergreens of the faith to step up and take over in order that we truly please God instead of thinking we pleased him.
We need to be wise in our living the Christian life and obeying God’s commands. We need to stand tall and not let new converts ‘flower quickly then wither away.’