EVANGELISM IS NOT SALES
I often hear the apologies of devoted Christians for not being as forward in their evangelism as they feel they should be. Yet, when we enter into a discussion about what that should look like I hear accounts of how people feel uncomfortable going door to door, handing out tracts, or preaching from street corners. All of these "cold call" tactics that personify the aggressive telemarketing techniques we all abhor continue to somehow define what it means to evangelize.
We must accept the fact that we live in an age where we confront aggressive & implicit marketing all day long. We are approached so often with marketing that marketeers themselves recognize that we have to hear or see a message at least 7 times before we even begin to notice it. So by default we can claim that we subconsciously so aware of marketing techniques and approaches that we are acutely cynical of them. So if we approach evangelism with marketing techniques its no wonder people will be leery of our message.
Now the truth also is that people will refuse our message even when we do it the correct way. In the Bible in Mark 6:10-11 we find that Jesus sends his disciples out "two by two" to preach the good news. He gives them these orders, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." What do we learn from this set of instructions? A few things ...
Jesus did not send his disciples into Jerusalem (the big city) to do this, instead he was in Galilee. According to Mark it appears he had just been in Nazareth. This was a small region very familiar to disciples and to Jesus. By far, the people were receptive to his message and open to hearing. But not all.
By this I conclude that Jesus is calling us out to share our faith with those familiar to us. It is a matter of sharing, speaking into the lives of others, opening oneself to moments of intimacy with friends and family - it is not meant to be a sales approach. If you were suffering from an ailment and a great physician helped you, you would find a way of sharing that news with friends and family who suffer of the same ailment. It would be done in conversation, friendship and advice would be offered based on an ongoing relationship.
However, even in the best of relationships not everyone is always willing to accept your counsel or testimony. Jesus doesn't call on us to shame them, to guilt them or fill their hearts with notions of fear about hell. He doesn't call on us to be angry or now treat them like a project to be "won over.' Jesus symbolism of shaking the dust off of your feet is a powerful symbol instructing us not to fret over them. If anything, he calls on us to focus on those who will receive the message. Invest in those willing to hear more and disciple them.
Evangelism is not about sales points. Evangelism is relational and requires for us to invest in people around us. We often confuse the role of an Evangelist with the work of evangelism. An Evangelist is one gifted to speak out, preach and reach out. We are not all called to be Evangelist but we are all called to engage in evangelism which is the act of sharing with others.
If we devote ourselves to share from the heart, one person at a time with love and intentionality, we will soon discover that the compound principle applies to evangelism and over time God has a plan to reach the world. Lets not worry about getting credit for the many but lets invest in the few readily available to us.