I recently picked up a book with evangelistic intent, but soon lost interest.
The author kicked off with a funny story then launched into a host of heart-warming spiritual experiences and a couple of instances of answered prayer. So far, so good.
Then came the evangelistic blast. The book grew preachy and I tossed it aside. I had hoped to buy a copy for a friend, but knew he would be turned off by the preachiness. That worked in times past, and will probably work again, but not in today’s world.
Inviting people to a high-tech worship service is also rapidly dimming as a tool for bringing people to Jesus. Did you notice that inviting someone to church is not the same as inviting them to follow Christ?
So what can we do?
Let’s go back to the beginning. Jesus simply invited people to “follow me.” Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
Our culture currently demeans church, seeing it as offering little value. They see the gospel as unscientific and something that once held value in the evolution of civilization. However, friendship with Christ-followers meets little resistance. Pursue a friendship long enough and authentic evidence of God begins to show up if you live the fruit of the Spirit. Love conquers all. We can still invite people to follow us into Christ. Perhaps without the boldness of a Paul or of Jesus, but still proactive.
Churches I’ve pastored have always majored in what I call “friendship Evangelism.” The largest congregation I ever led might hit an attendance of 2,500 on a super big day. Yet, we normally saw about 20 people per week coming to Christ. And, we were able to keep shipping people out the door to plant new churches. We were never a mission field for people to invite their friends for the pastor to evangelize them. My goal was to equip members to invade their neigborhoods and workplaces with the good news. And it worked.
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