02 June, 2010

Throw away your guilt about evangelism

This home assignment has been rich in terms of books read. I've read some great ones (and some not so great ones too). I recently read "Promoting the Gospel" by John Dickson. It shone light on a wrong belief I've had since I was quite young. One that the church must have instilled into me, I don't think it came from Mum and Dad.

The belief that Christians who aren't fabulous evangelists are not quite making the grade. Not that they're in danger of losing their salvation, but they should be trying harder in this area.

I've felt guilty about this for a long time. Compounded by the fact that now I call myself a missionary people tend to expect that I've "converted" lots of folk. That I'm an expert on evangelism. (And they ask questions backed by this assumption!) Not so.

This book takes a broader and, I think, more Biblical perspective of the topic of evangelism. The author points out that "evangelists" have a special gift of evangelism (Ephesians 4:11) - much like pastors have a special teaching gift, some have the gift of prayer and other have the gift of serving. 

This is the book's main idea:
'So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God ..." (1 Corinthians 10:31) ... The Lord is not asking you to be a superstar evangelist who preaches the gospel to everyone you meet (though, if you are wired that way, go for it). Reaching out to your friends and neighbours is a broad task. It is not an optional extra of the Christian life like attending an evangelism course, going on an outreach trip or reading a Christian book on promoting the gospel! It is an orientation of 'whatever you do'. p 51
That comes as a relief. Permission to throw away the debris of guilt I'd been hoarding.

He goes on to write about other ways (other than preaching the gospel) that all Christians should 'promote the gospel'. Through praying for non-Christians, through giving to those in need and to those in ministry, through compassionate deeds, through Christian behaviour, through public worship (not just seeker sensitive services) and through daily conversation.

I was so encouraged by this that my husband will tell you it came up in almost every conversation I had outside our family for more than a week.

It fits with my experience and understanding of the Bible. That we are part of God's gospel work regardless of where we are and what we are doing, if we are living how he wants us and designed us to live.

We've been going around to churches, speaking about Teams. Telling folk that they are a part of getting the gospel to Japan if they pray for us. We are not evangelists. We don't do an evangelist's job in Japan (or Australia). But we do pray for those who do. We give to those who do. We support evangelists in other ways (like David teaching their kids). We worship publicly. We have non-Christian friends, family and acquaintances - we behave in a Christian-like fashion among them. And I'm sure you do too. Be encouraged. I encourage you to get a hold of this book too.


Anika Q said...

I own the book, have read about half of it and can agree completely!

Hippomanic Jen said...

I have a book called "I hate witnessing" which carries much the same message. I am so much not the one to go out and evangelise. Make friends with people, yes. Talk to them where they're at, yes. But hit them over the head with the Raw Gospel whether they think they need it or not, not so much.

Footprints Australia said...

Sounds awesome!!! I will have to read it. By a coincidence, I have also read "I Hate Witnessing" by Dick Innes which Hippomanic Jen mentions, and also found it tremendously liberating. I actually wrote an article for Footprints years ago that was based on it, I called it "A Step Further" because that was the gist of it - if you can help somebody move a bit close to God then you are an evangelist - you may not be the one that helps them at the conversion step but you are still part of God's wonderful plan!!!

Jamie Jo said...

I just "found" you on my WOTH blog. I plan to find this book you recommend. Thanks for the review, and thanks for following my blog! Glad to meet you.

Wendy said...

Good to 'meet' you too, Jamie. I hope you can find the book and enjoy it, it is an Australian one.
Ladies, I haven't read "I hate Witnessing" but it sounds like they're saying similar things. Very encouraging! I'm looking forward to finding many people in heaven who I've only just helped along the road to God, but not know the end result until then - it'll be fun!

KarenKTeachCamb said...

Thanks for sharing this Wendy. I find it especially encouraging as I prepare for my move into teaching at a secular school in Phnom Penh. It's good to be reminded that I can be a "missionary" without teaching at a Christian school, especially when I am so confident that this new opportunity is God's plan for me. Might just have to find that book myself.

Wendy said...

Oh, Karen. You'll have even more opportunities to promote the gospel in your new school! Don't sell yourself short.