If you’ve been reading this blog recently—including even yesterday’s post—you’ll know that I have become increasingly preoccupied by evangelism. I feel convicted that I need to do more to make evangelism a more deliberate part of my ministry, and I need to work harder to lead my parishioners in the area of evangelism.
To that end, I had lunch today with a fellow United Methodist pastor who is famously good at evangelism (not that he would agree with that assessment). We had a great conversation. I feel inspired, convicted, and motivated. After sharing some practical advice with me, which I’m sure will bear fruit in my ministry, he confessed that he didn’t know how to do evangelism very well.
Needless to say, I was surprised by this admission. I don’t think he was being falsely modest; he was serious.
He continued: “If you commit yourself to the work of evangelism, people will give you a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t do it like this—and I’m sure they’re right. But my way of doing it, which isn’t very good and needs improvement, is better than nothing—which is what most pastors do!”
If we believe that eternal consequences hinge on a person’s decision to follow Christ or not, how can we be satisfied with doing nothing or next to nothing? I wonder if many Methodist clergy flirt with a kind of soft universalism—which hopes (against the weight of scripture, tradition, and reason) that God will somehow find a way to save everyone in the long run—to make themselves feel better about doing so little to convince people of the truth of the gospel. Never mind that according to our own Book of Discipline, this act of convincing is our church’s primary task.
I already feel like the biggest hypocrite by talking about evangelism in these terms, but I’m talking to myself, too. I know I’ve been part of the problem. But I want to change. Do you?
If you agree with me that there are such people as lost people, let’s roll up our sleeves and figure out how to reach them.