Yesterday I posted a link to an article called “Bait and Switch Evangelism.” I’ll assume you have read it. It really got me thinking and I wanted to add a few related thoughts and personal experiences of my own. I’ll jump right in…
As Christians, we should see people as people, and not as “objects” to be converted. I was part of a denomination for a number of years that had a real zeal for evangelism (certainly a positive thing!), yet too often it seemed like they did not really see people, but rather saw herds to be witnessed to. If one “got saved” they could put another notch on their “gospel gun” and proudly proclaim they’d reached another for Christ. Although I know that true conversions sometimes took place, something was amiss in the general approach and attitude. I think more people were wounded by the gospel gun than healed by the message of redemption.
Not all were like that. We used to have high school foreign exchange students live with us. Some attended church with us (by choice) for the cultural experience. The couple that worked with the youth for awhile was awesome – they reached out to and were friendly to the students in a genuine way. They sincerely wanted to get to know them, even if they did not express interest in Christianity. Then this couple left for the mission field, and different leaders took over. The genuine interest in the students was gone – instead it was back to seeing them as “objects” to be converted. The new leaders once called and asked if they could come over and give a gospel presentation to the current student living with us. I said no. I was a different person back then, and did not explain why I said no. Today I would have! “No you can not come give her a gospel presentation. You have not reached out to her in friendship. You have not tried to get to know her. To now come over and give her a gospel presentation would be…like you are a mercenary! Christians are supposed to be caring shepherds, not guns for hire!”
People need to know we care for them before they will ever be interested in what we have to say. And if we will only be nice to someone IF they convert, that is caring for someone with strings attached! That is not Christian love and grace! It is not how our Savior loved us. We should all be so thankful that Jesus Christ did not love us with strings attached. He came to die for us…even though we were unworthy and many rejected Him. Check out Romans 5 and Ephesians 2.
I also appreciated how the post mentioned that we should not trick people into hearing a gospel message. If we are going to host a business luncheon or sports event in which we also plan to present the gospel…that is fine, but the Christian aspect should be made clear. How would you feel if you were invited to some event thinking it was only about business or sports (or whatever) and then surprise, surprise right in the middle of it you have to listen to some sales pitch or speech? You’d likely feel annoyed, deceived…maybe even angry.
I had a university student living with me for a few weeks this summer who was Hindu and from India. She knew we were Christians, and that I was a seminary student. When she left I gave her a copy of the book “Walking from East to West” by Ravi Zacharias. In this book Ravi tells his personal story…of growing up in India, coming to North America at the age of 20, and his conversion to Christianity. I made it clear when I gave her the book that Ravi Zacharias was an Indian Christian and tells his story in the book. I did not want to trick her. I could have given her the book with the impression that it was just an Indian’s life story, but that would not have been forthright. A few chapters in she would have discovered the Christian message…and could very well have felt annoyed or tricked.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has POWER. But I sometimes think we forget this or don’t really believe it! If we really trust the gospel’s power, we won’t have to trick people, rely on gimmicks, or resort to mercenary measures in order to share it. Please…put the gospel gun away!