Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Get off the floor and go door-to-door!"

I laughed out loud! The Evangelism Linebacker rocks!

See the video at "A New Way To Form Evangelizers"

I spent a couple of years (from age 15 to 17) doing on the beach or in a park or door-to-door gospel spreading. You have no idea, NONE, unless you are as reclusive as I am, how tough that is. When I saw Saturday approaching, I'd start getting the shakes and knots in my gut and cold sweats. The works. I think the few folks who let me in to do my gospel spiel did so out of sheer pity at this teen gal with the wobbly lower lip.

In contrast, there were those in my wee church who couldn't wait to get to the bus stop and beach and mall or head to a neighborhood and start knocking. They loved it. Thrived on it. Glowed at the mere thought of handing out tracts or asking someone if they knew where they'd go if they died that very day.

Those people had the gift of evangelism. It made their day. It filled them with joy. It energized them. It made grey days golden.

It just made me sick from stress.

But most important of all, those with the gift were EFFECTIVE. We'd all be saying about the same thing. I, personally, had memorized hundreds of verses on salvation and other pertinent topics, and was never at a loss for an answer back then. I even got a priest at the beach (didn't realize he was a priest, him being in a bathing suit and all), and still didn't back down. (I was young and tenacious, if terrified.) We debated for a good hour on works vs. grace and parted amicably.

But the most simple youth with a grasp of maybe a dozen verses WITH the gift, with that special blessing of the Spirit for gathering in souls, would come Sundays to church trailing behind them all their fruit, those new people who'd made decisions for Christ that week before.

That was the life-changing observation for me. When I evangelized, no one showed up at church. They might have been softened up for another to reap (I noticed this twice in high school), but I didn't deliver the effective call.

I'm betting someone with the evangelistic gift DID.

However, I noticed this: When I taught, people went out of the room all full of strength and energized and would come and hug me and tell me how gifted I was and could I teach on this or that subject. I'd get calls from people asking me to explicate a passage that stumped them. I'd sit with my Bible open and we'd go through it and what seemed obvious to me, I realized, was not obvious to all. And when I used my words to explain it, they got it.

Somewhere between me and them, some gift was operant. And that was MY gift.

I couldn't evangelize effectively to save my life--or anyone else's soul. But I could teach on the most difficult Scriptural passages and make it easy to grasp for many. And when someone felt down and doubtful, I had the right thing to say to keep up their faith. And if a new venture was getting going, I was the wordsmith who could do the newsletteers, do the initial organizing, take superb minutes, plot organizational charts and create procedural handbooks. As long as I didn't have to be the one doing the glad-handing, I was fine. Only in teaching did I feel perfectly at ease being in front, yapping away. Otherwise, I wanted to be anonymous and behind-the-scenes and quiet. I dont' even like praying out loud in groups.

After several years, I came to a decision: No more cold evangelism for me. I was not touched with that particular fire.

My fire was of a different sort, and exercising it gave me the joy and pleasure and glow that I'd see in those evangelists with that gift. My place was not on a soapbox in the park or at a busstop or at your door.

Mine was in a class or at a desk or one-on-one with someone already in the Body.

Now, obviously, anyone who spends time talking with me will hear about Jesus. It's almost inevitable, because we all speak most persistently about what we love most. So, chat with me and something theological or hubby-related or book-related will emerge. I love Jesus, my husband, and literature above just about everything else. So, there ya go.

And on this blog, I have been pretty open about God and the Bible and how salvation is through Christ. I suppose we each find the ways to evangelize that suit our temperaments and talents.

But whether you're an evangelizing fool or a reclusive prayer warrior, check out the video. It's a hoot.

Hat tip to the Claw Man.


Eve Nielsen said...

My hubby goes door to door and does street preaching as well.( I had been wrestling with where I fit into evangelism. I knew all of us have been told to "go into all the world and preach the gospel..." but exactly how to do that has been a puzzle. My conclusions so far have been to simply do what God has placed in front of me to do (train my children, homeschool them, love my neighbors and share with them, and write)and to do all to glorify Him. If he wants me to do more, I guess he's capable of leting me know:)
Thanks for the post!

Keith Strohm said...

What a wonderful reflection on the diversity of gifts within the Body of Christ. As someone who enjoys evangelism a great deal, I have to say that I have a healthy appreciation for ALL of the spiritual gifts.

Thanks for sharing that!

Elliot said...

Hey, as a JW I went door-to-door, witnessed to people on the street, in school, etc, for the first twenty-odd years of my life! I usually didn't like it very much, being a timid introvert. Did I convert anyone? No, thank God. ;-) Studies have shown that that sort of "cold" preaching takes about 1 million man-hours to win the JWs a
a single convert.

I think you've hit the nail on the head. All Christians are called to evangelize, but surely we have to do so according to our gifts. Lord knows I'm an introvert, and that I have my share of doubts and flaws and problems with Christianity, but I find I end up speaking out for Christ in class, at work, online, to friends, regardless. How can you love someone and not talk about them?

Mirtika said...

Elliot, if I'd had to do it for 20 years, I'd have ended up in a very quiet, peaceful, padded cell for the nervously exhausted. I'm like you. Introverted IRL. Online, since there is still a measure of privacy and it's more like I'm thinking out loud. Cool. :)

It is interesting to see the ones who have the gift at work and just have people going, "Oh, yes, what you're saying is true. Why did no one ever tell me this before?"