Christians are such funny creatures! I go to a church that stresses the importance of evangelism. The sense in which the word is used refers, almost exclusively, to the meet-randoms-on-the-street-and-share-a-tract-with-them variety. This in itself seems deceptive in that I think evangelism is done best when Christians simply incorporate Christ into their everyday language, and thus spread the gospel through normal conversations. Street evangelism is nonetheless a valid form of witnessing, and it is to this that I make the following observations.
I think that evangelism should be based more on dialogue than simple presentation. I find something repulsive about Christians just rehearsing a tract to strangers and asking the scripted questions to see if they want to “ask Jesus into their heart.” In many cases the people we encounter on the street are not even interested in hearing the gospel. What would be more beneficial to them is to ask insightful questions about why they haven’t considered Christianity than to just go ahead and take them through the ‘4 steps of salvation.’
Part of this means that we Christians should be going into evangelism prepared as much to learn from the people we speak with, as we are prepared to impart our ideas to them. This attitude of humility would, I believe, go a long way in improving other’s perceptions of us. I know the gospel will always meet opposition, but the message should be the stumbling block, not the people presenting it.
I am the first to admit that I don’t do justice to the glorious gospel in this thing of evangelism. I take pleasure in knowing that it is God who saves, and does not depend on our imperfect efforts. Moreover, Paul rejoiced that the gospel was being preached, regardless of the motives for doing so (Phil. 1:18). Hence I have a lot of respect for those who ‘just do it’ when I’m sitting back rationalising my way out of it. Nonetheless I think there are ways of presenting the gospel that glorify God more than others, and I hope these thoughts achieve that end.