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The One Thing I Dreaded Most About Becoming a Christian

When I very suddenly became a Christian, I was in a supply closet at my job. By the time I was coming out of that closet (har! okay, grow up) — and I mean the exact thought that very strongly came to me as I was turning the doorknob that would lead me back out into the real world — I knew that I was never going to evangelize to others.

Can you imagine? You fall on your knees; out of nowhere you become a Christian; dazed, you get back up onto your feet; you reach for a doorknob; and the one thought that blasts through your head and physically arrests you for a moment is, “I’m not evangelizing. That’s not part of what this is.”

I’m not saying that thought came from God. Without question it felt like it did, but I understand that the mind is one of the trickier organs. (And, yes, I’ve aware of the argument that perhaps my tricky mind duped me into becoming a Christian.) I do know that the conviction that at that moment nailed me about evangelizing seems as true to me now as it did then. Before I was a Christian I felt like it was unbelievably offensive for one person to tell another what they should believe about God; fourteen years later, I still think that. Looking to the Bible to make sure I was right about that, I became so convinced I was that I wrote I’m OK–You’re Not.

I’m still listening to God; I’m always open to anything God might say to me about how to more perfectly understand him. And, believe me, if God ever tells me to grab a soapbox, go down by the bus station, and start screaming at people about being saved, I’ll be there just the second after I pull over to buy a bullhorn.

It’s weird though, isn’t it? About the third thought I had after becoming a Christian was, “Oh, no. Now I have to be one of those people I hate who are always telling others why they, too, should become Christian. Oh. Wait. No, I don’t have to do that. Thank God!” And then the first thing of any substance that I write after becoming a Christian is “Penguins,” in which I make a case for the argument that becoming Christian doesn’t necessarily mean becoming an irrational zombie.

“Penguins” is an apologetic. It’s an argument for Christianity, intended for non-Christians.

It’s a work of evangelism.

That God. He is tricky.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Oldstuff

    Your gonna take some heat for this John. There are a lot of people who contend you are not a Christian if you don't actively seek to conquer souls for the lord…and there will by much quoting of scripture to back them up. Then again; isn't what you are doing here on your blog (extolling the super-duper-wonderfulness of Christianity ) evangelizing on some level?

    • Michele

      Hate to call you "Old stuff", so I'll just address you as "Stuff" …I've decided over the years there are two kinds of people–and that might apply to Christians too?–those who worry about what others are doing and get off on arguing against things, and those who worry about what they are doing and try to do all they can to positively contribute to society, community, and themselves with their existence. Thus, some people work hard to be part of the problems of this world, and others work hard to be part of the solutions. The old negative vs. positive dilemma. Over-simplified, YES, but it works for me.

      So John, you are right to ignore–I've seen you turn the other cheek when some come at you with rants–the negative and discuss what you mean with those of us who really relate to your way of thinking. I'm a fan!

  • http://horizonsmagazine.com Andrea de Michaelis

    John, thank you, this was spoken like someone Jesus would agree with. When I was first waking up to a greater reality, I was afraid I'd become like my born-again friends, alienating everyone trying to convince them of my truth. For their own good, of course. I know the self proclaimed "Christians" don't mind making folks mad as long as they can convince them to 'save' themselves. I get it. They are told it's part of the job and that "the others" are non-believers and therefore not Christian.

    You give readers hope that not all self proclaimed Christians are overbearing and to be avoided. And you've got my interest enough that I will now read more on your page, something I would not have done without your post. I came to you via Twitter. Again, thank you John, for getting it.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thank you, Andrea.

  • Julie

    What you are doing is evangelizing. And it's much more effective than the beating-about-the-head variety. Keep it up!

    Funny, but ever since I became a Christian over 10 years ago I've sort of hoped a stranger would approach me on a street corner and ask if I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, so I could say Yes! Amen! That hasn't happened yet. It may be that the old-fashioned beating-about-the-head evangelism is getting less fashionable. Or maybe I'm just not hanging out on the right street corners.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Great stuff, Julie. Thank you.

    • Ace

      I get plenty of street-corner preachers wanting to give me pamphlets so I "can find out what the bible says before we all DIEE!!!!1!" and all I usually do is either keep walking or inform them that I own several copies of the Bible I can read quite well on my own, and don't need pamphlets thankyouverymuch.

      But apparently their pamphlets contain more truth than the actual Bible. *kof* Don't ask me about that one, I have no clue.

      You're just in the wrong town, or something. They're a dime a dozen in these parts.

  • http://soiledwings.com Sherry Meneley

    John – I 100% get it. I do NOT evangelize.

    It's not my thing. It’s not my gift. So those who have issue with it, get over it and deal.

    And here’s the kicker that makes it worse; I don't want to do it. My phrase is "I'm a wimpy evangelist." And it's true. Yet I seems to have no problem writing about God, and I’ve got to think this is how I “evangelize”. I hate to admit that I’m actually, quite possibly, evangelizing… Because I was NOT going to do that.

    I often think that if God gave me a gift of writing, that it allows we to forgo the sandwich board and megaphone proselytizing.. And thank goodness, because “Sandwich board” is just not good for my petite frame and is a hideous fashion statement!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thanks, Sherry. (And good call on the … sandwich board dress.)

  • http://www.whitenoisemetal.com Brian Shields

    (Warning: Agnostic about to quote Scripture)

    "Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and Glorify the father who is in heaven."

    To me that's the key to effective evangelizing. Live a good life. Be a good example. The folks who think it's about beating non-believers about the head and shoulders seem to me to be missing the whole point here.

    To me, you have done more to make Christianity appealing by being an example that someone can be a Christian and still be a reasonable, intelligent, friendly, funny person. Please keep letting that light shine, John.

    • Diana

      Thanks, Brian! This is so true.

      And it works with something else Jesus said: "By their fruits, ye shall know them."

      • http://william1580.wordpress.com william1580

        I am not so sure Diana. I am a christian.

        I have noticed that there is nothing christians do, can do, or should do, that my pagan athiest, wiccan, voodoo-practicing friends do not also do. Often they do love better than any of the christians I know. I include myself.

        "loaf-of-bread-to-starving-man/woman" is love done by whomever for whatever reason.

        • Diana

          I'm confused. What specifically are you questioning in what I wrote?

          • http://william1580.wordpress.com william1580

            probably I am the one being confused dear sister.

            by their fruits: I am saying that fruit that feeds is good no matter who provides it and I can´t see any practical or meaningful difference between pagan and christian fruit at all.

            ye shall know them: I assumed the "them" you understood to be "christian". Meaning that we could tell who is christian and who is not by "fruit".

            I guess this passage can mean alot of different things huh? You did not really say what you understand it to mean , so poof! no disagreement!

          • Diana

            Thanks for the clarification.

            What you wrote inspired me to go back to the original source of the quotation in the Bible (I knew Jesus said it, but I couldn't remember where or why.)

            There are actually several places in which he uses this metaphor, but the one I found first seems to be reasonably appropriate.

            Matthew 7:15-20–15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "

            I agree with you that "fruit that feeds is good no matter who provides it."

            "I assumed the 'them' you understood to be 'christian'. Meaning that we could tell who is christian and who is not by 'fruit'."

            In a way, that is what I meant–but I'm also of the school that Christian is as Christian does. Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian is Christian in the way that matters to God (“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. "–Matthew 7:21), while there are those who do not consider themselves to be Christian whom, never-the-less, God counts as his (“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

            40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ "–Matthew 25:37-40)

            That's what I meant by "By their fruits, ye shall know them." Thanks for your patience with this long explanation.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Holy cow, Brian. Thank you so much for this. It really impacted me.

      • christine

        It impacted me and it wasn't even directed at me!!!!

  • http://william1580.wordpress.com william1580

    Well John;

    Whew. Now I know I don´t need to buy your book since I am already evangel-ized/gospel-ized!

    Aw. Just kidding. Take plastic? ship to brasil? lemme know. sounds like a fun read.

    I want you to know that your blog has enriched my life and that of others I link to you immensely. I am especially thinking of your post on "manning up". Ahem.

    (disclosure: I am gay and I also, by pure coincidence, happen to bake cookies. shhhhhh!)

    I appreciate this post. Imagine. I know alot of gays who are already gospel-ized, but still get to experience a more, shall we say, "tough love" your subject matter.

    I see you put evangelism in a far broader context just as we Lutherans see it (especially us gay ones. shhhhhh!). We say that we have no ability to evangel-ize others or be evangelized by our own force of reason or logic. See for yourself:

    "THE THIRD ARTICLE (What sanctification is)

    I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

    What does this mean?

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him [ie 'I believe that I cannot believe!' crazy or what?];

    but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith;

    just as He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

    In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives me and all believers all our sins; and at the last day He will raise up me and all the dead, and will grant me and all believers in Christ eternal life.

    This is most certainly true."

    http://www.bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php

  • http://william1580.wordpress.com william1580

    Fact: When someone loves Jesus because he has come to realize that he is the object of Jesus crazy, reckless and unreasonable Love, that same someone often finds it to be extremely hard to stop talking about Him.

    Éven us gay ones (shhhhhh!)

    Shit happens.

    Evangel-ism happens.

  • Tim

    Hey Brian…Agnostic quoting Scripture? Cool.

    I thought you were an atheist.

    If I had to make a living selling Herbalife, Amway, or Alpine Air Cleaners, I would starve. I hate the cold call with a heated passion. There is very little in life that is more uncomfortable than a complete stranger trying nonchalantly to be casual and indifferent about a subject that is anything BUT casual or indifferent.

    In my opinion, there are only 2 occasions in which I would ever impose my relationship with Jesus upon another individual. One, is if a person asks me point blank what I believe about God and why. Two, is when the opportunity is as natural and unpretentious as the close and personal relationship I have with that other person. In other words, earning the right to be heard.

    Walking up to a complete stranger on the street, handing them a "Four Spiritual Laws" tract, then launching into a "Ya gotta love Jesus, 'n' here's why" sales pitch will more often than not get you a reputation for being "avoidable", "creepy", and maybe just a tick less worthy of an ass-kicking than a registered sex offender using his mom's address, but renting an apartment close to an elementary school.

    I believe there is a time and place for Evangelism. But in my opinion it is something that is divinely orchestrated. Have you ever brushed up against a fruit tree and had the fruit just drop off into your hands? I say that the BEST evangelism is simply being true to Jesus' teachings and letting that example brush up against your fellow man in a loving and non-invasive way. I know that I wasn't argued into the kingdom. I was nuanced there by the many threads in life's tapestry. To think that we consciously have something to do with that is our first mistake.

    • Diana

      Amen, Tim!

      “Walking up to a complete stranger on the street, handing them a “Four Spiritual Laws” tract, then launching into a “Ya gotta love Jesus, ‘n’ here’s why” sales pitch will more often than not get you a reputation for being “avoidable”, “creepy”, and maybe just a tick less worthy of an ass-kicking than a registered sex offender using his mom’s address, but renting an apartment close to an elementary school.”

      Gee, Tim, tell us how you really feel! (But you’re right, of course.)

      “I know that I wasn’t argued into the kingdom. I was nuanced there by the many threads in life’s tapestry.”

      A wonderful way of putting it–and probably true for most of us. Thanks again!

  • Bri

    It has always been my understanding that a Christian is obligated to evangelize someone once. Beyond that, it is up to the non-Christian to choose to convert. The people you (or anyone) complain about are those that are too persistent, frequently because they are too close-minded to consider the thoughts of others.

    The rationale behind evangelizing is softened when you consider that a relationship with God is good thing, and, like anyone, we want to share what we enjoy with others. The trick is discerning when that gift is a burden upon the would-be receivers.

    I recall a time when I was on my way to class and a Hare Krishna man tried to convince me to take an interest in his religion. I was polite and talked with him, but not at all interested in becoming one of his religion. On my way back from class, I crossed him again, and I was like, "Dude, remember me? We talked already." And although he was like, "Oh yeah," he persistently tried to talk with me, giving me the same spiel, which I found very off-putting. I was uncomfortable at his first attempt; his second crossed the line.

  • http://none Don Rappe

    Hi. I've been trying God's patience since 1936 and am so old I learned grammar in grammar school. Hearing what I presume is a Greek noun evangelium turned into a verb always catches the attention of something deep within me.I suppose I should remediate that trait as though it were a leaking oil well, I ought to be used to it.

    After I had my "experience" and returned to church I was concerned for quite a while that I was still an atheist. I enjoyed experiencing the real presence of the Christ in, with, and among the elements of the Sacrament, even if I thought the sermon was rich with nonsense. But, I had learned in the same grammar school that receiving communion wrong led straight to Eternal Damnation.

    I've resolved most of these problems by reading the sacred writings with a view towards what they really say. As soon as I understood that the ancient writer didn't himself (or herself, for you feminists who don't accept standard English grammar) believe that the knowledge of good and evil was a fruit that grew on a tree or that snakes once talked, I was free to continue admiring the beauty of God's creation through my understanding of math and physics. Hurray!

    Rather than believing God exists, I can continue to believe that He (divine, not masculine pronoun) is Uncreate.as the third catholic creed pronounces him. But I quit being an atheist when I realized that it meant "without God" and not believing God exists. I am not without the reality of God, I do not think God is an illusion, I believe Freud was wrong about that. And the hymn to the Logos in the Fourth Evan-gel tells me all I need to know about the relationship of the God of Israel to Rabbi Jesus Josephson of Nazareth..

    Well, I feel better with that out of my system. ?Ya donde el banyo?

  • http://christineoh.com Christine

    Hi John,

    First, thank you so much for this website! It's been really insightful, entertaining, and a lot of good questions for me to chew on. You've def been added to my google reader haha. Thank you also for your honesty, its a lot of things we feel and think about, but maybe too afraid to verbalize it and bring it out to the table.

    I guess secondly, one of my many favs (ha) christian blogger wrote this post: http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/05/brad-pitt-…. He talks about how we fear that when we hate missions, He will instantly send us to Africa. But that maybe we're wrong and God is not a God that does that. It was encouraging to me, wanted to share..

    For me, I'm personally learning that evangelizing..is..in the end, laying our hands on people and praying for them. Like these verses from Acts 28:7-9: There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.

    So I guess in a sense, that's what the depth of heart is at and wanting to pray for. So we could lay our hands and pray and heal each other, so that God's love can be made seen in us (1 john 4:22). Just wanted to share, thanks for sharing yours!

  • http://flippingout.weebly.com Amy

    I have found that just by living my life I am being a witness to those around me. I've disclosed my utmost sins as a message that I don't have to live under the weight and fear and shame those things have done to me.

    I know I will answer for my sinful mind and flesh but my heart turns back to God no matter what I've done. People need to see that. They need to know it's "normal" to screw up, because that's the entire point of the Bible – restoration of God's creation to its Creator.

    I have never, ever made it a secret that I love Christ, even in the face of scorn, ridicule and disgust. NONE of those things could ever compare in pain to the love with which Christ has for me. Remember Peter was crucified upside-down, and every single one of Christ's disciples were martyred for their belief in Christ except for John, who lived his live in exile.

    I'm not suggesting that is how we are to live today but I know I am not afraid of death. Perhaps I am afraid of a painful death, and I mourn the heck out of the passing of my loved ones but it is in life we show Christ. The Bible says we are always to be prepared to give answer for the light within us. That light shines in me during certain times and when people respond to it, it is then I ease Christ into the situation. Somehow, I just know. I suspect it's the Holy Spirit in me who guides. ;)

    I was saved as a direct result of a very sinful situation in which I willingly participated. God came to me in the middle of it and it took me a year to figure out what He was doing – and that it was even HIM. I rejected religion for so long, considering myself an agnostic.

    But, you can't un-meet Jesus. Once He's there, He's there. We can reject Him (and the apostates are a whole other conversation). And we have to remember this world is dying quickly and not all will be saved. It's heart-shattering for me but I have to trust that God knows what He is doing, and that my business is to share the message of Christ and let our Father do the rest.

    People make their own decisions and we should pray that once their ears and minds have taken in the Gospel, that God will lead them to His son on His time.

    John you are doing this work not only for unbelievers but as a reassurance to your believing readers, that we're not alone in this world that wants to damn us. If that's not evangelizing……..

    Blessings,

    Amy

  • http://minoritythinker.blogspot.com Shannon

    That seems to be God’s sense of humor. It’s just like all those missionaries you hear about who have said, “Lord, I’ll go anywhere but [the place they're currently serving].” It makes me cautious about ever saying “Never” or “Anything but. . . ” to God.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never in my life extolled the “super-duper wonderfulness” of Christianity. But I hear what you’re saying. And in the appendix of “I’m OK” I dealt with every quote from Scripture to which Christians typically point as inspirations/directives to evangelize. So I’m … well, okay.

  • christineB

    so had to change my name slightly cos there is now another Christine (nooooo!) but I am surprised HJohn, I thought this post would get many firey responses about evangelism, but hey people can continue to surprise. Almost tempted to get the emails for this one now, scared the crap outta me before cos though my inbox would be inundated with ranting. Good for you buddy, u continue to inspire

  • Don Whitt

    John, I’m with Julie. You are evangelizing in your way – the way you need to, not with some cliche fire and brimstone approach.

    I read Penguins last night. I’m a non-Christian, raised in a very religious family (liberal, Presbyterian) where dinner conversation was frequently about God, love, meaning – went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, worked at church camp, volunteered with the severely disabled, etc and one day had what I call an inverse conversion. The 7/24 conversation I’d had with God for the first 20 yrs of my life, suddenly echoed hollowly. I was alone. After 20 years, it seemed I’d been talking to myself. I can’t explain it other than a reverse epiphany with a half twist. 30 yrs later, I still seek God and I find him in you – your sense of humor particularly. Keep it up.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Thank you, very much Don.

  • Jill

    I agree, and I am the same way. When I became a Christian as a teenager in the ’80s, the evangelical push was on hard to bring new people to church every week, which, I never did, but always felt guilty about. Which was annoying.

    When I tell people, I tell them about myself, my journey, or the stories of others, if it’s appropriate.

    But it causes me no end of pain to have an understanding of hell, and know that people I love, or even people I don’t know, or even, actually, people I think are particularly heinous, are going there. I can not shake the feeling that eternal torture is awfully harsh punishment for being deliberately misled.

    • http://william1580.wordpress.com william1580

      Jill. People do not go to heaven or hell because of anything they do or don´t do. And it is not about being able to make the right choice either.

      • Don Whitt

        Not so sure everyone's hip to the concept of grace.

        • Jill

          I did not understand either of these comments at all – do either of you care to explain?

          • Don Whitt

            Jill,

            My understanding, from my up-bringing in the Scottish, Calvinist Presbyterian tradition, was that you only go to heaven by the grace of God. There's no point system – you can't earn it. God decides upon whom he bestows his grace. Period. Do your good deeds, your bad, be lazy, work hard. It matters not. What matters is what God thinks about you.

            That's the concept of God's grace that I learned (in a simple nutshell – my apologies to Biblical Scholars everywhere). This is radically different than the Roman Catholic concept – I'll leave that for someone with that experience to describe it from their perspective.

            The Protestant concept of grace always struck me as both beautiful and incredibly severe. But it falls in neatly with the Calvinist belief in predestination.

          • http://william1580.wordpress.com william1580

            Hi Don and Jill,

            Wow don. I understand your first post to john. that is truly incredibly severe.

            I am a lutheran catholic christian. For us nothing at all can be known about God apart from Christ. Nothing except that severe God you know Don.

            This Christ is God who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was made man. Don and Jill: think of Jesus. would he ever turn anyone away? no. Good. Cling to that thought. He will no quench a smoking flax or break a bruised reed. He loves you. his arms are outstretched on the cross for you. Don these words I am typing now , Christ as your savior who loves you and wants you as his, is the part of your predestination you need to cling to. forget everything else you think you know about God. Jill. Cling to Jesus. His blood covers whatever it is you have or will do wrong and so you are totally cool with God. Christ died for all. Christ died for the world. are you in the world? great, then from those words of the bible you can be certain that he died for you . cling to that. trust Him. This Jesus, flesh of your flesh, is the only God you can know who loves you completely for everything you are. even the bad part.

            God bless you both in your journey with Christ Jesus.

            will

          • Diana

            Thanks, Will–I'm inclined to agree with your viewpoint on this.

          • Don Whitt

            Thanks, Will. I have a life-long tendency of bypassing middlemen so, religiously, I've always gone straight for the Big Cheese. Maybe that's my problem! And, blasphemous as it sounds, Christ's story never made much sense to me. His teachings do, but the "died for your sins" part has never, ever resonated. Always seemed like bad math.

          • Jill

            I'm still not quite sure exactly what I said that elicited the comment (not mad, just confused). The 80s in general and the church that I went to at that time was very, very big on Evangelizing. I always found the concept a bit…sledge-hammery. I stopped the guilt part many years ago. Guilt has a purpose, and that purpose is not to hang over you like a dark cloud for the rest of your life.

            I agree with the concept of grace you described, with one caveat – you must receive the gift of grace. Many in family have not, some dead, some still living, but it is not possible to receive a gift from someone if you don't even acknowledge their existence, hence my presumptions.

            I am aware they are presumptions, and that I both know nothing, nor am I in charge of whatever actually happened/s. I simply acknowledge my belief based upon my understanding of the situation.

            Actually, I believe the gift of grace is offered freely to everyone, some receive it, and some do not. Whether God is in charge of who chooses Him or the individual, I do not believe it is possible to say. It is rather fruitless argue the point either way (though some have made a career of it).

            Much as I would love to wax philosphical for hundreds more syllables, I must go make ham salad for dinner.

          • christine

            Ah Jill welcome to John's world of people not reading things properly then adding their two cents worth….you're in good company

          • http://flippingout.weebly.com Amy

            (I love ham salad!!!)

          • Jill

            Ham Salad is wonderful! OK, now – persons of extreme volatility – a JOKE is approaching.

            It leads one to wonder, if God loved the Jews so much, why didn't he let them have bacon?

  • Ben

    Evangelism is such an emotion-laden topic in the (western) Christian world and I think that like most such topics it is too easy to take to the extremes.

    "Just shine your light" vs "Jesus will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him (and don't evangelise)".

    The early church evangelised, millions around the world in other cultures were evangelised, there are Christians today languishing in cells and/or dying for preaching and evangelising in communist and despotic countries. Let's be honest, what this debate is really covering is comfortable first world people approaching other comfortable first world people.

    Just doing good so that others may be won over to the gospel is indeed Biblical (see most of 1 Peter!), but I have come across the misconception that being good will always earn good favour. As a preacher (can't remember which) once said, "People think that the better we model Jesus Christ in our lives the more people will love us. Well, how did that work out for Jesus?"

    I think it is natural to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. If we are grateful, humbled and inspired by his heart and actions we will talk about it. If we have that special love relationship with God then we would share as readily as we do about a new boyfriend or girlfriend, our new husband, wife or child. It's just a question of how we do it.

    This blog is indeed a very "new media" way of spreading the good news about Jesus Christ. That would indeed make it evangelistic. Not in your face but definitely unequivocal in its advocacy. But is there a place for the on-the-street or at-your-door style of evangelism? I would have to say "yes" but then I'm biased – myself, my wife and my four best friends were all introduced to a saving relationship with Jesus through that method. Is it my preferred method? No. I'll take an opportunity but our culture (here in Australia as much as in US) is so hostile to it that taking this approach has to be natural, comfortable and Spirit-led.

    And I think that is the real point, being Spirit-led. Then even the most fervent promises to never do it are open to being overturned just as John described in his post.

  • Andrew C

    @Don Rappe,

    At the risk of sounding like a snarky Greek nerd, be absolved of your Greek noun/verb conundrum. The English word “evangelize” does come from the same root as euangelium, but there is actually a verbal form in NT Greek (ευαγγελιζω or euangelizo). [NT Greek is the limit of my knowledge, so if there was a corresponding form in other classical dialects, so much the better.]

    @John,

    Thank you for your thoughts (as always). As someone training to be a pastor, the whole evangelism thing is not a strong suit of mine either. I get the chance to do it in tons of different ways that don’t involve the “door to door” stuff, which is awesome, but the word evangelism itself often makes me very nervous anyway. Keep up the great work; I truly appreciate your writing and reflection.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth
  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Ah, Backspace Evangelizing. You gotta love the blind zeal. ;)

    Let me explain:

    When I think of the “I-found-JC-and-I-just-gotta-tell-the-whole-world-about-it!!!” craze that many a newborn Christian goes through, I recall back to High School in the late 70′s and my first day of Typing class. Nowadays they call it ‘Keyboarding’ since typewriters are nearly an extinct species. Acttually, they realy should call it ‘Thumbing’ since most text instead of typing, but I digress…

    My Brother and I were sitting there in front of a brand new ELECTRIC typewriter; the one with the interchangeble ball’ very high tect back then; along with the other students listening to the Teacher explain the fine art of Typing. SInce many kids have never seen a typewriter this typing was a whole new skill many had never been exposed to.Tthis was rather exciting stuff. Well, for me and my Bro at least. So, the Teacher explained some of the keys when we got to the backspace key. When you hold it down, Teach said, it would repeadedly backspace until you let off the key. Realy? Cool! In one movement the whole class all held down the backspace key and the room was a buzz with the brrrrrrrrrrt of several typewriters backspaceing at once. Wheeee! I was amazed and thrilled, look at it go!

    Then that ackward silence set in. Bro and I where the only ones still backspacing, giggling like little kids with a new toy. The rest of the class and the Teach were staring at us like we were some hicks fromt the sticks who never seen a typewriter before. Well we were, but… we glanced at each other with our ‘we sure looked like idiots here, dont we?’ red faces and faced forward trying to regain what was left of our dignity for the rest of the class, carefull to keep our enthusiasm in check and our fingers away from the backspace key

    When I think of folks evangelizing with that same thrill of ‘finding the lord’ I think back to that first day in Typing class and that backspace key. Thrilled and amazed and so on fire to share the gospel they are and off they go to spread that zeal and save souls for God. They seem so baffled when folks just look at them like they just discovered the backspace key and havent a clue about the rest of the keyboard and/or ACTUALLY typing. I kinda feel sorry for them as I chuckle to myself recalling my own new found enthusiasm way back when.

    I have come to think that the ‘go and share the gospel to the whole world’ thing was more God’s way to curb over-zealous enthusiasm and further knowledge and wisdom. Why? For the key word there is “SHARE.” You know, you share something to another person and then the other person shares somehting back with you. Sharing goes BOTH ways, WIth evangelizing however the other person sharing back usually gets cut off, especially if that other person is not a Christian and tries to share some non-Christian spiritual insights with the evangelist. Egads, do some evangelists get bent outa shape with that! Seems we are just to LISTEN to them, not tell them stuff back!! Good grief, man! We’re tying to share the Good News ™ with you here for crying out loud! Listen to us!!!

    Well, that’s cool. But you may want to finish the rest of the class and course and learn the rest of the keyboard and how to type before you got out and try to teach others, donchya thinK? And, while you’re at it, you may want to listen to some of us other folks who’ve been around a few typewriters and typing probably for a lot longer than you, and in different styles too. Might be something of value for you there if you’d listen, yes?. That is the meaning of sharing, is it not?

    I believe God saw all that blind zeal coming and purposely told folks to ‘share’ in hopes they get there eyes opened beyond the blind zea by the folks they supposedly came to ‘save’l. Sadly, that didnt happen too much. Blind zeal often turned into blind prejudice and, well, history repeadly shows what happened to way too many Native cultures when the Backspace Evangelists came a-knocking…

    I mean, just saying….

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      As you can tell, I need to keep practicing on the keyboard myself. Sheesh, look at all those typos! lol

  • Lulekwa

    I believe we should not work painfully hard when we serve in the Kingdom. As Paul says belief, salvation and faith are gifts from God when addressing Corintian and Ephisian churches.

    “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it to grow. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building (1Cor 3:5-9). We need to understand that evangelising does not necesarily mean it is you who will lead all the people you speak with to Christ, just do your part and plant a seed or water that planted seedling (a good Word or good works/deed). We all work together as the body of Christ, someone will eventually lead that person to Christ as God Wills. Fundamentally our work is driven by our humility. Should never be about me, but about the Love of God, and therefore done with love as a foundation.

    Paul explains what salvation as he says: ” For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2: 8-10).


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