Saturday, October 13, 2012

ABC of Modern Evangelism

It is no secret that secularism is rising in the Western hemisphere. The recent finding about the decline of Protestant attendance in churches only go to confirm this fact. Check out his report on studies down by the PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life. We have heard of all the negativity surrounding Church and religion. In fact, one of the surest ways to kill a conversation is to mention anything religious or church.

In such an environment, how can we ever reach out to people for Jesus? What ways can we fulfill the Great Commission? I think words like 'evangelism' can be more negatively perceived like people seeing Christians shoving their religion down the throats of unbelievers. People want to avoid any religious confrontation because they view Christians largely as hypocrites, insensitive, and arrogant people wanting to exert a form of religious superiority.

Let me suggest the following. I am not saying we stop all forms of evangelism. I am suggesting that we learn to relate more instead of trying to lock people into our views. Spend more time listening rather than talking at them. Learn to strike conversations rather than seek conversions. My personal motto is this: "Conversation is our responsibility. Conversion is God's responsibility." In other words, we do the talking, the sharing, and the relating. Let God do the changing. That said, I like to propose the ABC way of relating to people. It is something that we can all do, and it will certainly move Christianity a step in the positive direction for all.

A = Acknowledgement

Realize that we are not living in a land where Christianity is a majority religion anymore. Acknowledge that people are the same persons that Jesus has died for. We are all the same members of a race of people tainted by sin. We are all sinners. We all need help. There is no way we are superior to people we speak. We acknowledge the basic dignity of all people. For Christians, that must guide all our efforts to relate with people. Practise double vision. Firstly acknowledge people for who they are. Secondly, see them with eyes of Jesus, to see how Jesus sees them.

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36)

If we can acknowledge them well, let us be like Christ, showing compassion on them, remembering that we too are needy people, desperate for grace.

B = Be with them / Be kind to them

If we read the gospels, we will see how frequent Jesus mingles with ordinary people. He goes to them, sees them for who they are, speaks with them, walks with them, and shows compassion on them. He heals. He teaches. He enjoys the time both in their houses as well as out in the open.

This world needs a little more kindness each day. In fact, if Christians focus purely on just being kind to one another, and to be kind to people around them, who would not accept them into their community? Kindness is the passport to any strange environment. Be kind. Be with people.

C = Care for them

Following being kind, compassion must lead to action. We cannot simply be stuck at acknowledgment or just talking. We need to move to care, to put our love into action. Pray for them privately. Relate to them publicly. Care for them openly. Is there anyone who will refuse care? If they do refuse, just accept that, and move to the next opportunity we have. In the field of care, there is always work to be done.

Evangelism is not a particularly difficult thing. More important than forcing any conversion is the act of building trust, and to speak an apt word when the opportunity arises. Perhaps, our acceptance of people, acknowledging them for who they are, being kind to them, and caring for them, will be a big step in seeding, sowing, watering, planting, and growing in relationships.


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