Friday, May 15, 2009

Why I Don't Evangelize

I left an excessively long comment on Chantell's post about evangelism, so I now am inspired to write my own branch. Go read hers first. It's alright. I can wait.

Are you good now?

Okay, well, here was the comment I left:
I completely agree with you on the whole door-knocking tract thing being outdated. Personally, I think for the most part, tracts are outdated in general. If I were to go up to someone at school, hand them a tract and say, "Jesus loves you. Have you accepted him as your personal savior?" They would laugh at me and probably give me a swirly.
I remember when I was about eight, we used to go door to door, taking surveys about what people believed. We would ask them some questions, hand them a tract, and say something along the lines of, "Jesus loves you, come to church." We had no results, and people were typically annoyed by us. I was annoyed by us, to tell the truth. There's nothing more annoying than someone questioning your faith when they knock on your door, interrupting your day.
So, we did that for a few years, and pretty much nobody came in. Then, we had a community day last year, we gave away candy and bikes and stuff, and voila, fifty kids still come to our church a year later.
*dismounts from soapbox*
If some of the older members of the congregation read this, I would probably be reprimanded. No tracts? No door to door? No going up to random folks on the street and saying, "Repent or you'll go to Hell"?


Allow me to explain.

By the standards of most, I am an absolutely horrible witness. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad witness. That's me. I haven't ever won a Sunday School contest, and haven't received a prize since I was in elementary school. The people that can do this stuff, God bless them. I have a friend who can go up to someone, talk to them about anime, Twilight, or various Emo activity (Emo is her speciality, so to speak), five minutes later, she can have them talking about Jesus, and the next service, they're in church. I think that's pretty awesome. I respect her for that.

But it's not me. I'm a huge pessimist and a huge realist. Plus, knowing the backgrounds of some of my friends, both religious and otherwise, I know that if I were to lead off with, "Jesus loves you", they would probably punch me in the face. One of these such friends is probably reading this and most likely knows who she is. (Because she's the only school person who reads this.*waves*) The average high schooler does not want to be preached at. They are in school, being told how to think all day, and the last thing they want is someone else telling them that they're wrong, too.

So, I don't. My goal is not(and this is going to come out wrong, I know it) to have masses of people up in heaven, screaming my name, and telling God that I brought them in. Quantity is not my biggest goal. Because I can't tell you how many times I've seen several people come in and get what I like to call "rush-order saved".  The process of this is:
  1. Someone brings a visitor
  2. That visitor sits through a fire and brimstone service
  3. That visitor is scared out of their mind
  4. That visitor is scared into an altar call and being baptized
We can have all of the mass baptisms and huge altar calls that we want. But what is the use of these if the retention rate is next to zero? Many people come into the church, sit through the service, get baptized, and never return. If we can bring in masses of people and keep them, then that's great. But so many times, people in the church want to befriend these "sinners" so that they can pray them through, and once they are in the church, they no longer want anything to do with them. They don't build a relationship, there's no follow-up, these people feel alone, and they leave, usually with a sour tast in their mouths regarding Christianity, particularly of the particular denomination within which they were neglected, and they may not be able to be reached again.

On several occasions in scripture, new people in the church are compared to newborn babies. We Christians like to say we follow the Bible on several occasions, but when it comes to this perspective, we do not follow this by any means. You wouldn't birth (or adopt) a newborn, teach it to walk, give it some money, and then send it out into the world with a pat on the head and a "Good Luck, kid!". There are years of development that must take place before that child has matured and is ready to head out and fend for themselves. New Christians are also like this. They aren't going to have your standards, your convictions, and maybe even the concept of God like you do. You've been in church for a while. You know how to act. They don't. They're still developing. So, nurture them and help them like you would a baby. Build a relationship.

That's why I don't pass out tracts and I don't bring in a million people a week to church. If you do, congrats. I'm proud. I could never do that in a million years, even if I wanted to. Which I wouldn't mind. But as for right now, my main priority is to be a friend. Some of the people out there think that all Christians are the spawn of Satan who want to beat them over the head with a Bible. You want to know how to show the world Jesus? Don't be that guy. Be their friend. Prove them wrong. Who knows? It may pay off in the end.

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