My home church supported a mission ship sailing to poorer countries offering free books, and other supplies. They also sponsored students who volunteered to do evangelism wherever the ship docked.
In each city, the ship would open the library and give out books and supplies. The youth would go into town passing out tracts and talking about Jesus. People would often sit with the students and talk about their faith and how Christ impacted their lives.
A few years ago, the ship visited my home city to thank supporters and demonstrate their mission. They opened up the library to give out free books and supplies. The youth went into town passing out tracts and talking about Jesus. Can you guess what happened? It’s not pretty. They were cussed at, ignored and shoved aside. Their tracts were often thrown into the trash.
Many of us today are bombarded with messages of all kinds and our level of trust for anything religious is low. Maybe, it’s because we saw evangelists pleading for money while they travel the world in private jets and live in multi-million-dollar mansions. Or maybe it’s being accosted by people in long robes at airports handing out flowers and asking if we knew Jesus. For me, it’s the guy who shook my hand and his first words were “If you died today, do you know where you’re going?”
Evangelism has gotten a bad rap that in some ways is deserved. But there is a form of evangelism that is still very effective even today.
What if you knew that by simply saying hello to someone or listening more closely to a friend or coworker you could impact that person forever? This has nothing to do with methods and everything to do with taking a genuine interest in another human being. This allows God to lead you out of your comfort zone and in your own way with the gifts God gave you, help someone see Jesus in you,
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans: “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” (3:21-22)
This is a gift God has provided for us. We should be excited enough about that gift to share. After thirty-some years as a pastor I’ve learned that as hard as I try, I can only personally talk to a few people. But what I can do is enable our church to be a potentially life-changing experience for those who come.
You are the one who will tell our story. Your passion, your enthusiasm influences others. Your willingness to go out of your way to know someone, looking to help and taking a genuine interest will make the difference between a mediocre church where nothing much happens or a church full of excitement, passion, ministry, mission and a continual flow of changed lives.
Okay… What are some practical ways we can share this precious gift we’ve been given by God?
- Take prayer walks in your neighborhood. Pray for your neighbors as you pass by.
- When you ask how others are doing, slow down, listen and ask questions.
- Be a generous tipper at restaurants and start conversations with those who serve you.
- Invite neighbors over for coffee and desert and get to know them better.
Your willingness to trust God and take those first steps will make a difference and some of those encounters will be life changing. This is the best way I know to be the church in action. Our churches today are declining, partly because of other influences out of our control but we can control how we respond. I believe the church is declining because we do not take a genuine interest in the people we come in contact with every day. Wherever you go, God is giving you the opportunity to make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Respond to that God-given opportunity today!!