Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Choice of Methods

It is easy to get pushed into the established pattern when it comes to sharing Christ. We can get the idea there is only one acceptable method and we must fit into it. And I have found this can cut both ways. There are those who use a direct method in evangelism; they go door to door, pass out tracts, or get in evangelistic discussions with strangers. There are others who approach it from the idea of relationship building or attracting people by living the Christian life. Both sides can end up condemning the other as wrong. Could it be that both sides are trying to force the other into a mold they will not fit? Could it also be that there are different approaches to sharing Christ and that which one we should use may depend on who is doing the sharing? It is easy to do things in the way that makes you feel comfortable or fits your situation and to condemn those you do not do it your way. How, then, can we put this in perspective? 

It is clear that the Scripture condemns indifference (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Luke 24:46-49). And it is easy to make excuses in an attempt to explain away our indifference. It is, however, also possible to jump to the conclusion that someone who does not see things from our perspective in this area is being indifferent. We all need to examine our hearts and decide whether we are following our approach to evangelism or are merely making an excuse to get away with doing as little as possible. But we also need to be careful of condemning people who take a different and less direct approach than we do.

It is also clear from Scripture that we are to approach unbelievers with gentleness rather than antagonism (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Colossians 4:5,6). But we need to be careful of concluding that everyone who is more direct or forceful than we feel comfortable with is out of line. It is easy to be so worried about avoiding offending people that we never challenge them. We also need to be careful of convincing ourselves we are being forceful when we are really being mean. I know from personal experience and observation how easy it is to cross over that line without realizing it.

While there are people who are clearly on both extremes, either so indifferent they are really not involved or so nasty they do nothing but alienate others, we need to be careful of jumping to conclusions about people. And we need to realize that not everyone is necessarily called to use the same approach and that we need to respect people with different gifts and personalities. If the body has different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11), is it that surprising they might affect the way we evangelize? And should we not be careful of measuring others by our standard?

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