Evangelism and Spiritual Growth

Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.-1 Peter 3:15

These days, the word ‘evangelism’ stirs up feelings of fear at best, and contempt at worst. There are street prophets who warn sinners of impending doom, summer bible camps in third world countries, dramatic altar calls preceded by lengthy emotional sermons, and aggressive internet apologists. We spend so much time trying to convince people they are wrong. But I want to know more about the evangelism mentioned by Peter.

His evangelism is patient. This evangelism is personally invested. It doesn’t flit in and out of people’s lives with a brief informational message. This evangelism can only be accessed through relationship because it assumes two things. First, your life looks different from the people around you. A Christian should embrace living alongside those who find us peculiar. Second, you are waiting for those people to ask questions. We don’t seek to convert, but rather to nurture curiosity.

I think by focusing on the moment of conversion, we become lazy evangelists. If we reach out to invite people to church, but not to ask if they are in need of anything, we miss the point. If we let the pastor focus on delivering the most convicting message and how to drum up publicity, then shrug our shoulders when it doesn’t work, we miss the point. Is it really a pastor’s job to elicit the sinner’s prayer from as many people as possible? I don’t think so.

Jesus evangelized on the road. He shared stories and asked questions. He didn’t seek out strangers to invite to the synagogue or temple. He simply met people where they were, and gave them what they needed, spiritually and physically. They were naturally drawn to Him because of this. When he did show up to the synagogue or temple, it was usually to teach and correct. How backward we have it now! What would happen if we brought our zeal for truth into our church buildings, and took grace and mercy with us out into the world?

When someone becomes a believer, their journey has just begun. Maturing and growing is a messy business. Any parent will tell you that. We put so much effort into ‘birthing’ new Christians, but what happens afterward? Who is tending to the new spiritual infant? I would submit that this should be a pastor’s focus. God is the one who makes new creations. We are simply there to guide and encourage each other as it happens. Pastors, by occupation, have the opportunity to cross paths with many spiritual children. They also have access to an education that others may not have the privilege to experience.

If we are all adopted orphans in God’s family, churches could be considered our group homes. They are the places we go for support and encouragement because we are already aware of our need for spiritual milk and meat. We can’t leave new believers to jump from home to home like foster children. We need to walk with them on their journey, not try to control the outcome of it. Evangelism is about showing a different way, by how we live our own lives. It’s about teaching those who wish to learn, not forcing information on those who don’t care for it. Evangelism is all about spiritual growth within a community. It’s a continuous, life-long process we endure, for the sake of the members of that community.

-This post was originally from the author's personal blog-https://strengthmadeperfectinweaknessblog.wordpress.com

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