30 January 2010

Street Evangelism in the Modern World

From Banner of Truth

For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you. (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

Many church leaders tell us that open air evangelism in the form of preaching or door-to-door evangelism is outdated, that it no longer works because people are post-modern, because people no longer care about heaven and hell, and that promising or warning them of such things means nothing to them. We are told, therefore, that we must engage in lengthy 'friendship' evangelism so that lost friends will feel comfortable with us. We will also need to use apologetics to convince people of the validity of Christ and his gospel. It seems, therefore, that many of our churches see very few professions of faith and true conversion.

I wonder if the real reasons for our failure to engage in one-on-one, door-to-door, street evangelism are our laziness, cowardice, and pride. I am speaking from my own personal experience here. I suspect the root cause is our pride. When I seek to engage people in a questionnaire in hopes of sharing the gospel with them, and when I am rejected or mocked I find it especially humiliating. This blow to my pride fuels my innate laziness and cowardice, and I simply find other things to do.

I tend to avoid the pain of rejection at all costs. I have come to believe that this humiliating rejection and mockery is very good for my personal sanctification. It helps me, though admittedly only minutely, to experience the sufferings of Jesus when he was despised and rejected by men, when he was like one from whom men hide their face. In fact, due to Christ’s command to make disciples of all the nations (noting that this begins with evangelism and moves forward to teaching) failure to evangelize and disciple is sin. We are failing to obey and honour Christ when we fail to evangelize and disciple people.

Have you ever heard your preacher say that it is sin if you fail to tell others about Jesus?

Not all Christians are evangelists, but all, especially ministers of the gospel, are to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5). Every church needs people gifted in evangelism, and others who do the work of evangelists so that the church may have new life breathed into it. A church merely built on strong preaching and teaching is dying even as it lives.

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