This post is from the archives and is one of my favorites.
Evangelism is one of those Christian words we throw around so easily and casually. I personally don’t like the word. “Go evangelize!” It kinda freaks me out. I envision myself standing on a street corner wearing a sandwich board while holding a megaphone shouting, “Sinner!” at the top of my lungs. Not a pretty picture. Not a loving picture. Not a picture I’d ever like to see.
But somewhere between street corner evangelism and Christ’s command to go out and make disciples, we have lost the true meaning of evangelism. We have replaced what should be sharing the Good News with a somewhat sad and pathetic alternative. Instead of actually sharing the Gospel, we do something else and hope that it is enough.
What is it we do instead of actually evangelizing?
We invite people to church and call it a day.
“Hi. I go to church at North Church of Some City on Sunday’s at 10:00 a.m. I wanted to invite you.” Done and done. Check that off my list.
Somehow we think that the proverbial church invite gets us off the evangelism hook, so to speak. That becomes the extent of our evangelism—a church invite? Hmm… somehow I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind when He said “go and make disciples”.
We hear pastors preach this message from the pulpit. They tell us to bring a friend, invite a neighbor, give out an informational card for the next upcoming holiday event. These things in and of themselves aren’t bad. We should be inviting neighbors, friends, and family to church, but it is not evangelism. It is perhaps one portion, one small portion, of sharing the Gospel, but that’s all.
I’ll admit that I am guilty of this. I have chickened out, taken the easy road, and ignored the obvious and just invited someone to church. When what I should have done was heed the Spirit’s leading. Sometimes people just need to hear someone speak the name of Jesus, tell them that He knows them and wants them.
People often need a life-saving word right now, in the moment. They need a strand of hope and encouragement now. Yet we stumble upon these people in our daily lives and give them a bit of information about a Sunday service and then ask them to wait until… well, Sunday.
We then pray and pray and keep our fingers crossed that the Sunday service will be just what they need. We pray that the sermon will speak to them and they will be moved by the worship. Again, this is all fine and good and I am not discouraging any of it. But what if we didn’t wait until Sunday?
What if the encouraging word, the message of hope and restoration, forgiveness and redemption was heard from us the moment God placed them in our path? Jesus and Paul did not meet a man on the side of the road, write down an address for them and then say, “See you on Sunday…”
Christ said “Today salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)
We cannot be a collective group of Christians who believe they have done their duty by extending an invitation.
American Christians have become complacent in their ability and motivation to evangelize. We let the Sunday service become our crutch. We are essentially saying that it is someone else’s job to evangelize. It is the greeters’ at our church. It is our pastors’, our worship leaders’, our homegroup leaders’. They should be doing the evangelizing. We just do the inviting.
Inviting people to church is important. Yet it is a small piece in our evangelistic life. Mediocrity cannot creep into speaking Truth. People’s lives are depending on it. We hold the message of salvation today, not three or four days from now. We are called His ambassadors, not His inviters.
Are you guilty of “church inviting” evangelism? (I certainly am). What do you find works in evangelizing? What has not worked in the past? How has God used you in unexpected way, in the moment, to reach people?