Saturday, March 05, 2005

Responding to Comments

Hammer asks:
Can we agree that the statement "Jesus never meant for evangelism to be an individual pursuit" should be changed to "Jesus never meant for evangelism to be exclusively an individual pursuit."
Absolutely, "exclusively" is exactly what I mean. Each of us have individual talents (spiritual gifts) we can use for the cause. Some of us should be on the front line and some of us should be in the rear. We need everyone to contribute to the cause by doing what they do best. We will have more success if everyone is doing what they are gifted to do and we will have more success when leaders stop coercing believers to do what the leaders want instead of what God wants. There is no reason for anyone to feel guilty when their family and friends don’t respond to their gospel invitation. There is no reason for any believer to open their mouth out of a false sense of obligation. Instead of most everyone feeling defeated, we will become energized when we start viewing evangelism as a team pursuit.

blue fish challenged:
But... you also talk about how your family was faithful in praying for you... for several years. That is a strong witness. It is a demonstration of their love for you and their faith in God. I do not know your history, but I'd assume that you had some knowledge that they were praying for you and that they loved you. While you may have chosen to ignore it at the time, I find it difficult to believe that it played no part in your decision to turn to Christ.
As a believer now, I listed everything that could have been a factor that led to the point in time when I accepted Christ. I am thankful for all of their prayers. However, as a non-believer then, my family, friends, and acquaintances where hindrances to my being able to make a decision for Christ. I had a lot of effort and time invested in disagreeing with them. The more they approached me about Jesus, the more reasons I found to NOT believe. The more they prayed, the more foolish I thought they were. This may not make sense to some readers, but it is the truth. It may not be true for all believers, but my guess it is true for many non-believers who are as head-strong as me. The way we approach non-believers is very important and it takes more than good intentions. It takes a little talent and it takes the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure everyone who is told to witness has what it takes.

Buz repeated:
“I will be pleasantly surprized if you find something which will work more effectively and produce better enduring results than one person living a committed life and telling his friend what peace and joy Jesus has brought.”
There are probably some people who can see Christ in individuals. I never have and I don’t think I ever will. I see attributes of Christ in some believers now, after I have crossed the line and after I have joined the ranks. As a non-believer, and even as a new believer, I thought Christians were icky. As a non-believer, the only time I saw Christ was in a community of believers (Church). As a new believer, I didn’t experience Christ until I attended Church. Individual Christians who think they are most responsible for people coming to Christ may be much more of a problem than a solution.


blue fish said...

I don't mean to be adversarial... but I'd like to ask again...

Is there something that you believe the church could/should have done that would have been more effective in reaching out to you personally?

I'm curious because there are still a bunch of head-strong people out there who think Christians are fools, and it seems to me that if we want to find a meaningful way to reach out to them... then your personal experiences seem like an excellent place to start.

I mean, how do you think the Church should witness to head-strong people who are actively fleeing from God?

Buz said...

I am beginning to see the problem which you are trying to cast some light on.

First, I became a Christian at age five, and while I have gone through a bit of rebellion, the only obnoxious religious folk I have to fend off have been Jehovah Wittnesses. If you have been harangued and pestered by Christians who tried to drag you kicking and screaming through the pearly gates, then the problem was the agents, not the method.

If the problem was the method, then if someone had approached you with a new-and-improved method, are you saying that rather than rejecting the Gospel, you would have accepted it? I think your answer to that would be, "well not right then and there," at which point, again, it is not the method, nor the agent, but rather the timing.


Becky said...

I'm not exactly sure what I want to comment, but I know that I do. The apostles were the first to know Christ and hear the message of salvation. And once they heard and believed, they were tireless, all of them, in their endeavor to bring salvation to the lost, both Jew and Gentile. They travelled, they sacrificed personal comfort and surrendered possessions, faced imprisonment, torture, death all because they boldly preached the gospel. They didn't just go about their busy lives, hoping that the lost would notice them and believe.

Acts 9:28 ~
"So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord."

Acts 13:46 ~
"Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles."

Acts 19:8 ~ "Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God."

Acts 28:31 ~ "Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ."

You said that the more your family prayed, the more foolish you thought they were. The more they approached you, the more reason you found to NOT believe. And yet, here you are. I don't know your whole story, but it seems to me that God answered their prayers and perhaps used them in spite of their efforts. But He did use them. I am not a 'door-to-door' evangelist. I prefer to 'live' my testimony. It's easier. Costs less and feels safer. But I believe that God has called us to be bold about our faith and He will refine the message to the ears of the listener if they are ready to hear. Hope some of that makes sense. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Becky,

I'm glad you did comment and I'm especially glad you feel free to disagree.

The next post I have planned is about looking at a single account in Scripture two completely different ways. Hopefully, I'll get it done today.

As I read the verses you cited, I don't see anything that contradicts anything that I have written.

I might not get the full context of the verses you cited or you might be reading more into the verses than is actually there.

For the most part, I have tried to make a common sense case based on my observations over the years. I know my views are minority views and expect they will remain minority views. However, even minority views are sometimes eventually accepted by the majority. Perhaps there was a time for an aggressive door to door approach while today’s time requires a more subtle approach.

Now a question for you; Are you claiming there are not side effects or are you not concerned with the side effects?

Becky said...

I believe that we have to be 'seeker sensitive' and yes, I am concerned about any negative side-effects. My point with those verses really centered around the word 'bold'. I would be interested to know if there is a verse that supports life-style evangelism versus boldly sharing the gospel of Christ. I know that Christ was always sensitive to His audience, but He still spoke the truth openly and without delay. As for the changing times requiring a change in approach...the gospel is timeless while reaching the lost is not. I don't want my unsaved Mother-in-law to die before I get around to sharing with her what I believe. I hope, that my lifestyle will support what I say. As for the side-effects...eternity in hell is a pretty nasty side-effect of me not getting around to sharing the truth about Christ with her. A two-fold approach is necessary...I need to live a life that can support my open and bold statements about salvation. I need to be sensitive to the listener, but honest about their need for Christ. When Christ met the woman at the well, he was very bold about her sin and her need for Living Water. He didn't have time to sit around and chew the fat for a couple of years. There may be people in our lives with whom we have only the briefest of opportunities to share the life-saving truth about Christ.