The dilemma (from a reader): I was told just recently that a church’s “success” is seen in it’s fruit. If you can’t point where souls are being saved, then your church is stagnant and something is wrong and instead of playing the blame game, you need to start by looking in the mirror … Do I need to love more? Yes. Do I need to show more mercy? Yes. Patience? Yes. Self-control? Yes. Etc, etc etc. Add that to the “how many souls are you saving?” line and you can start feeling like crap.

It boils down to this: how should one approach evangelism, especially in an environment of “all Jesus sales pitch, all the time.” Since I covered this one in a previous blog, I have a friend guest blogging for me.

Guest Blog by Rob Rolfingsmeyer

Yes we are called to go and preach the gospel to the world…but…we are also called to be fully human. To be fully human we must build relationships with people. Now, if you build relationships with people for the sole purpose of trying to preach the gospel to them, you’re not really building a relationship…you’re building a customer base. We are not here to sell the gospel…St. Francis said to his disciples, “Go and preach the gospel to the world and, if you must, use words.” In other words, preaching doesn’t have to be oral.

For example, I hired a guy who had just reawakened to his faith and was just absolutely adamant about convincing people about the truth of God and Jesus. He used to get mad at me because he would drag me into an argument with whoever he was talking to. I’d end up saying something “profound” and the room would just go quiet. Usually it was agreeing with his viewpoint but coming at it from completely out of nowhere. I never tried to engage these folks in discussions about it. All I did was build relationships with them because they were good people and I liked talking with them.

One day I was working a six hour mini-shift with this girl who was ardently against God because of the whole suffering happening to good people thing. She asked me how I can believe in a good God (came to find out later, SHE never started conversations about God). I came at it from a different angle than what she had been hearing, then finally I left it with, “when someone suffers, don’t you think God cries too?” She burst into tears (I have that effect on people)…of course this was the end of a four hour conversation. After that she was really interested in this whole Jesus thing. I never set out to convert her, trust me on this, I’m a Catholic who used to be Protestant, I get people trying to convert me a lot…there is nothing more annoying.

This is GOOD NEWS that we’re talking about. Your life should quietly preach the gospel to others. There are times that you may feel prompted to explain Jesus to someone but there are others where the other person must prompt it. Being a human being and developing relationships is essential to the gospel…in the movie “The Big Kahuna”, Danny Devito says basically that if you want to preach to someone, ask them how their kids are, find out what there dreams and hopes are. In other words, don’t develop a relationship for the sole purpose of conversion. Once again it’s selling something to a customer. As a car salesman I developed relationships with customers first and sold them a car. The whole point of the relationship was to get them in that car. Is that what we’re supposed to do? Is evangelization just a tool to get someone to think like us, act like us, believe what we believe? No, Jesus came to restore the relationship between not only God and man, but man and man. Think about how Jesus evangelized. People came to him. He didn’t seek people out to convert. He built relationships with disciples, news spread of this man who was saying things that no one had ever said before. Maybe we need to revamp our message and look at different angles, maybe we need to act in such a way that people seek us out, and not try to pass out tracts or hammer someone with the gospel message. Maybe we need to be friends first, fulfilling our humanity.

Sorry this was so long, I don’t know if it clears anything up for you. If I sound like a heretic, well, I’m sorry.

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