If “reaching new people” is one of the gospel imperatives that Jesus gave us (in the Great Commission) and which we as Minnesota United Methodists are specifically called to focus on, it means that we’re going to have to face, discuss, and even (gulp!) do the E-word!
This summer I read a great book which I commend to you: Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism by Martha Grace Reese. Conservative, liberal, not sure of one’s theological orientation–you will find yourself in it and I believe some practical direction in how to get your mind and heart around the E-word. I think it would make a great study in our churches.
Reese says that there are people who are “evangelism lovers”–can’t help but share their faith, it just flows right out of them–and “evangelism-cautious”–hence, the E-word we can’t bring ourselves to say, much less do.
Evangelism-lovers are contagious in their enthusiasm; the downside is they can get too zealous and turn people off. Evangelism-cautious persons may be better listeners, but don’t always come to the point in their relationship and conversation with another person to share what one believes, invite another to a deeper relationship with God, and/or even invite another person to church.
Reese has some good perspectives on evangelism. As I have always maintained, good evangelism begins with good listening, not just talking; getting to know people, not button-holing them; but also not being afraid or unable to articulate what you believe.
One of the questions that Reese suggests we all ask ourselves is, “What do you think (and I would add, feel) when you hear the word evangelism?”
WDYT: what has made you an evangelism-lover or an evangelism-cautious?