I have to admit something to you. You may have heard it a million times before or said it to yourself, but you need to hear me say it before I continue: Evangelism scares me.
Ok, now that I got that off my chest, I can, in good conscience, continue.
I, like many others who are members of the mainline Protestant church, grew up in a fundamentalist background. I cannot (nor should I) pretend to speak for everyone who shares that part of my story, but I witnessed a form of evangelism that I could never quite understand. One time, I went with two others from the church I attended when I was in high school, knocked on my friend’s door and witnessed to that whole family. That was not who I was and that is not who I am. But, I did it anyway. I witnessed aggressive forms of evangelism break up relationships (family, friends, etc.) or at least strain them.
After running as far as I could from the evangelical part of my upbringing, it took me many years to heal. There are some aspects about the denomination in which I grew up I take with me like my love of scripture, singing hymns, and a passion to share with people Christ’s love. But, how do I share with people Christ’s love? How do I share that same hope with them that keeps me going?
Well, if evangelism is sharing the Good News, isn’t what we should be doing? There are many people in this world who are without hope. We see it every day, whether it is a family experiencing a nasty divorce, people without jobs, children going hungry, or the person who has no one to help her or him during a crisis. Evangelism is standing by and assisting those people (and many others!) and doing everything we can to make sure they know that they are beloved children of God made in God’s image.
Evangelism goes beyond the knocking of the door asking people where they will spend eternity. Evangelism is getting to know people. Evangelism is building bridges in the community. Evangelism is making this world a better place. Evangelism is holding the hand of someone who has just experienced something catastrophic. Evangelism is standing next to the dying person in the hospital room to make sure that person knows someone cares.
Yes, evangelism is scary. But, what’s more frightening is not sharing the Good News at all.