Generosity of Evangelism
“Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” -Jesus
Is there anything in our life we should be more generous with than the Good News?
“We are known, wanted and deeply loved by the Creator of the Universe! God loves us so much that He came and lived in our mess with us, he even died for us! God is with us and for us! God heals! Christ is risen! Our sins our forgiven! Death is defeated! Eternal life is ours! The Spirit of God lives inside of us! We are enabled to radiate the Kingdom of God into the world! Alleluia! Amen.”
…. And yet, we often keep the best news in the history of the world, the Good News of Jesus Christ, to ourselves. We neglect to share it with our friends, family members and neighbors. Why?
One reason we may be hesitant to generously share the Gospel with those whom God places in our lives could be that we have had awkward or even hurtful experiences of being evangelized to ourselves. These negative experiences of evangelism can often have the undesirable side-effect of causing us to be muted about our faith. We don’t want to make people feel badly, or to make them feel that we think we are better than them, so we do not share the message of Jesus Christ with them.
Or perhaps we falter in boldly proclaiming the Good News because we are afraid of what others will think of us if we do. We imagine people might think we are stupid for believing that God became a man who saved us, and redeemed all of Creation, through His death on a cross. Fearing being thought of as naïve and ridiculous we talk to others about seemingly anything other than our faith in the Triune God.
Maybe we are just shy. Maybe we aren’t sure what exactly the Good News is. Maybe we are struggling to believe it ourselves. Maybe we feel we are failing to live into our call to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and so we do not want to come across as hypocrites for commending the Way of Jesus to others. Maybe we are too distracted by the things of this world to remember to share our faith with our friends, family, and neighbors. There are probably as many reasons for lukewarm evangelism as there are those of us who struggle to generously proclaim the Good News.
Evangelism doesn’t have to be awkward or confrontational though. We need not fear what others will think of us because of our faith in Jesus (take Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, and embrace being a “fool for Christ’s sake”). We don’t need to be extroverts to share the Good News. We do not need to be perfectly versed on every teaching of Christianity or be 100% rock-solid in our faith to share the Gospel with others. We do not need to be perfect disciples of Jesus to also be apostles of Jesus. We do not need to remain too distracted to share of our hope in Jesus. There is no roadblock to sharing the Gospel with others that God is not ready, willing, and able to break through for us. We just need to trust that the Spirit will speak through us, flaws and all, as we learn to live generously by freely sharing the Good News with others.
How do we go about doing this then? How is evangelism done ‘well’? When the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson preached at our church’s 150th anniversary celebration he suggested that we begin by simply sharing our stories; that we talk easily with others about how God is working in our lives and how we see Him working in the world. This rings true to me. I have always been brought closer to God not by a person making me assent to some theological claim but by being moved by a story someone shares about God’s presence in his or her life. Of course, to move people closer to God with our stories we need to also make them feel genuinely loved and cared about. When we self-sacrificially love those around us and speak to them about God’s goodness in our lives, and in all of Creation, people will begin to connect the dots and hear the Holy Spirit proclaim the Gospel though us. There really is no better gift we could give than the gift of faith Jesus Christ. Let us give it generously.
Lord, help us to really see the transformative power of Your Good News, and proclaim it boldly and beautifully. Amen.
Now Go and Do: Look up evangelism resources, read through some of them, and put into practice some of their tips.
Love, Your Generosity Project Team (Adrienne Danielson, Deb Hess, Shari Fuhr and Marlys Mathiowetz)