A Philosophy of Personal Evangelism 8
Last week we laid out for you a brief case for the nearly unlimited potential for personal confrontational evangelism. I would be remiss if I did not admit that the majority of American Christianity disagrees with me. This is seen in the fact that so few churches have an active, organized, vibrant personal soul winning program, but it is also seen in the sometimes sincere and sometimes snide criticisms leveled at soul winning. I plan a much longer blog series dealing with many of these objections but I want to briefly address them today.
"You will never reach everybody."
I know. I agree with you. But that is not our aim. Our aim is to fulfill the Great Commission which tells us to preach the Gospel to every creature. (Mark 16.15) And personal evangelism is the method that offers the greatest opportunity to personally offer Christ to the greatest number of people.
"That might have worked fifty years ago but nowadays people don't want anyone badgering them. Our culture isn't like that anymore."
I've got news for you. There's never been a culture where people liked people badgering them. People are people, and they largely share similarities across cultures and generations. The church in Jerusalem didn't start practicing house to house evangelism because the Jews welcomed it so eagerly, and we shouldn't stop it when people don't.
…and I might also add I routinely have precinct workers, alarm salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses, plumbers, and school kids selling all manner of things ringing my doorbell in 2017. It's funny; apparently the only group that thinks it is inappropriate to ring a doorbell anymore is evangelicals.
Some days I just want to shout at American Christianity, "Stop being culture driven; be Scripture driven!"
"Well, confrontational evangelism always results in false professions, and you ought to be concerned about that."
Actually… you're right. Yes, I can hear your gasp all the way over here in Chicago. Confrontational personal evangelism results in false professions – and so does every single other method of evangelism. But the solution to false professions isn't to stop witnessing. The solution is stop being pushy, to teach soul winners to look for people with whom the Holy Spirit is dealing, and above all to emphasize a detailed, thorough presentation of the Gospel.
False professions don't make soul winning a bad thing; they make badly done soul winning a bad thing.
"Confrontational. Do you understand what that word means, Tom? You're going to run people off with such an approach."
Um, they are already on their way to hell now. Where are you going to run them off to? Hell number two? He that believeth not is condemned already. (John 3.18) I'm being a little snarky, and I realize that but I'm still right. If we allow ourselves to become concerned about not offending people we will close our mouths for Christ and never open them again. I am not advocating that we purposely seek to offend, but I am advocating that we ought to purposely seek to confront. And that is entirely scriptural.
"You soul winners are plucking green fruit. Those folks aren't ready to get saved, and your premature efforts are causing much harm."
How do you know that? Is there some waiting period in the Bible I've missed somewhere? To the contrary, behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6.2) I realize that the Holy Spirit must convict the sinner in order to prepare him to be regenerated, but there is no reason the Holy Spirit cannot convict him today. Scripturally, there is a sense of urgency both explicitly stated and implicitly referenced in relation to witnessing all through the Bible. Jesus led Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and the thief on the cross to Himself in the first conversation.
"Witnessing is not a set time scheduled on Saturday morning. It is a way of life."
I could not possibly agree with you more. If you preach that in my church I'll sit on the front row and holler "Amen" as loud as I can. …but thirty years of experience in soul winning and close observation of churches has proven one thing to me: the only Christians who actively incorporate witnessing into their daily life are those who first incorporated it by schedule.
The truth is our flesh fights witnessing more than any other spiritual activity besides prayer, I suppose. Building an evangelistic culture is the single most difficult thing to do in any church. If we do not purposely and regularly schedule a time for soul winning we will rarely witness. If we leave it there we are remiss, but if we do not begin there we seldom if ever progress to an active life of witnessing.
…so take the Gospel to someone this week. Better yet, do it today. Step out in compassionate boldness and speak a word for Christ. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10.2)
Go into it. I don't mind if you put up a sign with the Gospel on the edge of the field. I don't mind if you play the Gospel on a PA system aimed toward the field. But get up from the table and walk out into that field. That's where the harvest is.