An old friend who works in a music store sent me this story:
I was asked by one of my customers if I would be the music minister at the Church he pastors. (This was out of the blue one day.) I told him that I was not interested, but thanked him for the offer. He asked why I wasn’t interested. I told him that I am an atheist. He began to tell me that I wasn’t an atheist and all the reasons why I wasn’t. I did my best and held my ground without being rude. (I was working at the time and being rude to a customer is just plain wrong.)
It gets worse. This pastor finally left – but he sent members of his congregation by every few days to pester this guy about his atheism through arguments. Eventually, his boss at the store (who is a Christian) asked these people to knock if off. For believers who oppose rude evangelism, this sort of thing is embarrassing.
“Today, we launch project ‘Annoy That Guy At The Music Store’. Ah, I love the smell of freshly printed tracts in the morning – it smells like victory!”
Here are some points that I want to stress about evangelism:
- As my pastor recently said, “People should not be treated like projects.” Jesus can be represented by showing people love – not by bickering.
- Arguments are fruitless. I don’t know any believer who ever said, “I became a Christian after someone repeatedly shoved anti-atheist arguments down my throat.” That’s never how it works, so find another approach.
- Representing Christ on Earth means emulating His humility and compassion. Sure, He had to argue with religious leaders over fine points – but He did not seek out these religious arguments.
- This one is important – Jesus let people go. When people didn’t understand Him and decided to leave He didn’t argue with them. We should show as much respect to others. He did not harass them into coming back. This doesn’t mean giving up, it just means being respectful. Bickering with someone to the point of making them angry means that they will never want to talk to you again.
I’m not trying to put a muzzle on evangelists; I am trying to direct our efforts in a loving fashion. An old friend of mine liked to remind us that it’s not clever marketing or annoying evangelism that will show people the greatness of God – it’s love. People are hurting and need to be loved.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)