Thursday, May 20, 2010
The "E" Word
One of my son's favorite books is the old Sesame Street book with Grover called "There's a Monster at the End of this Book." Grover spends the whole book trying to keep you from turning the next page so you don't get to the monster, only to get there and discover that he, the lovable and friendly Grover, is the monster at the end of the book and there was no reason to be afraid.
In keeping with that idea, I would like to warn you now that at the end of this post I'm going to challenge you to share your faith - I know, you're already sweating.
Evangelism has become a very taboo word in many of our churches - it's that thing the scary churches do. We associate it with the tracts about hell that are left in bathroom stalls and the people who stand on street corners yelling or the people that go door-to-door. Don't get me wrong. I find those practices as alarming as everyone else - alarming and ineffective. Nevertheless, we've let those negative examples be our excuse for not sharing our faith.
I do it as a pastor with people who've taken enough initiative to visit the church. I don't want to come on too strong, or talk about faith too quickly and thus get labeled or perceived as the scary, stalker pastor. So, I just act friendly and assume they'll ask me if they want to know anything about Jesus.
Here's our hold-up (aside from the scary evangelism tactics that have turned us off), we think that sharing our faith means we have to give someone a long, drawn-out, thorough explanation of who Jesus is, how Jesus works, what the Bible means and more. We think we have to know everything and have a great way to explain it.
This isn't true. We simply need to take the opportunity to invite people to experience something that has been powerful, important and life-changing to us. We can't have the experience for them, but we can invite them to the party.
Donald Miller says it this way: "Introducing somebody to Jesus is not about presenting ideas, then, as much as it is introducing the person to a Diety who lives and interacts. Evangelism, then, looks like setting somebody up on a blind date: God does the work, we just tell them about him and where they can find him."
It's not pushy and it's not about how much we can memorize. It's as simple as inviting someone to worship with you or, better yet, taking a genuine interest in someone else's life and story.
So, here it comes, the challenge: Think of someone you know who doesn't go to church, or even someone who does go to church but doesn't know Jesus - take your friendship to the next level (see yesterday's post) and take the risk of inviting them to come to worship or small group with you - point them to an opportunity to experience God for themselves.
I think you might find it's not as hard or scary as you think.
(And if you're the competitive type and need extra motivation, Jamin is trying to invite 25 people to worship before Sunday, and he's monitoring his progress by handing out our Ashley Ridge cards that have a place on the back for you to write your name and number - I'm looking for someone to show up on Sunday having invited more than 25 people! - But remember, the ultimate goal isn't quantity, it's building quality relationships that lead to the highest quality relationship with Jesus!)