Thursday, October 22, 2009

Complicating Evangelism

I was talking to someone recently about evangelism. He said that he had talked to a pastor who had studied this out and found that door-to-door, the cold call, was the sixth best way of evangelism. The pastor had gone to some sales classes and took what he learned and developed a formula of how to locate the best contacts and then how to keep them warm until they finally are saved. The formula required a certain number of connections with the contact, including a specific number of visits. In the end, more people would be converted if the formula was followed.

As he was talking to me, my mind was wandering to scripture and the whole point of evangelism. Let me give you my formula. Preach it to everyone. Get the gospel to as many people as possible. Go to everyone to bring the gospel, so that no one is missed. That is what I see in Scripture. It is all I see in the Bible. I should love the people I'm preaching to. I should want them to be saved. I should want to live in accordance with the God about Whom I'm preaching, so that my testimony won't hinder the meaning of the Words I'm proclaiming. I can't talk them into it though. I can't warm them into it. The gospel is going to do everything for the salvation to occur. I don't have any special love for door-to-door. I see the example of it in scripture. I don't believe there is any more effective way for people to be saved than just preaching it.

My theology is repulsed by the conversation represented by the first paragraph. I hear the words being said and I can't wrap my brain around them. Why? Salvation is a supernatural work of God. Salvation comes from the gospel. The gospel is a message from the Bible. The salvation doesn't come from human effort. It is not by the will of man. I believe these types of formulas just confuse that issue. They make the salvation of souls about the wisdom of men.

I don't know who will want to hear the gospel and who will not. My responsibility is to preach it. If I preach the gospel to everyone, I have fulfilled my role in the work of salvation. When I don't preach it, I don't complete that responsibility.


Gary said...

Preach on brother Kent. I am not familiar with that man's style, but I know that it is not about some kind of sales technique for convincing a person to get saved. It is our job to share the gospel with EVERYONE and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting.

Colin Maxwell said...

Fundamentally, I agree with you here, although I think we need to always review what we are doing to do it better.


Terry McGovern said...

I have taken several evangelism courses. Most of which had an approach based on mans philosophy. We need to realize evangelsim is NOT a profession. It is a calling and a command. Many well intented Christians try and and apply worldy philosophy to evangelsim. They try and apply a formula they learned at a work seminar to something spiritual. It does not work, or at best it produces secular results.

The key is to depend on the Holy Spirit. He knows exaclty how many times I need to talk to someone, and he can put them on my heart or in my path at His bidding. My job is to yeild and trust him. At times there will be the Ethiopian Eunuch's and other times there will be the Grippa's.

If we are faithful with the command given to us, and obey according to the power God have given (Acts 1:8) to us, we can know we are doing what we are supposed to with regards to evangelism. This is true if you see 100's come to the Lord or just a few. (I personally beleive a faithful witness will see at least some turn to the Lord. God is not willing that any should perish.)

philipians2511 said...

AMEN Br McGovern. Your post was every bit as good and succinct as the OP?!

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Respectfully Submitted

Br Steve

Gal. 2:20

Claymore said...

I heard a story once about a man who was assigned to lead a certain man to Christ -- each week he was there "at his post" until the man made a profession. However, this man realised that the profession was just to get him to stop coming, and vowed never to do such again because it is snake-oil salesmanship. This can be a danger of knocking on doors systematically (though it does not make it wrong). I will say more of my views of the pros and cons of knocking on doors later. The point of this post is that we are not to use anything but preaching and teaching to evangelise - the command is not "go and sell" but literally translated is "As ye are going, preach."

Claymore said...

Pros to door-to-door evangelism:

1. It eventually brings the Gospel to all the people in a community
2. It gets people involved
3. There is nothing wrong with individuals going singly or in groups to do it in most places.

Possible cons:
1. if it is scheduled for certain times, it leaves some who cannot make it at those times without the ability to do so - if churches simply let people go when they can instead of legislating when they go, it works better.
2. In some places it is not a good idea (China or Saudi Arabia for instance) as we are not to intentionally seek martyrdom. In such places, God opens another means. I have only known two in America who were faithful to go to church from this means, and they are not in church now from the last I heard.
3. Some pastors tend to make it the criterion for spirituality, when it might become a cop-out for a lack of personal communion.
4. repeated knocking on doors by numerous churches may cause the problem I described earlier: people professing salvation to get the evangelist to stop coming.

While it is not wrong to go door-to-door, the idea of "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel" is that we preach in the daily concourse of life. Ironically, I don't see the apostles going door-to-door. Also, we find that the apostles passed through some places (Asia, for instance) without preaching (though all Asia later heard the Word) which says that we are accountable to speak only to those to whom Providence leads us.

To say that one is not spiritual unless he does knock on doors is false: James Laing led many to Christ without knocking on a single door in his life. Also, those incapacitated from illnesses like ALS or from severe strokes may be as, or more spiritual than those who go daily to knock on doors.