I meet a lot of people who disqualify themselves as able to share their faith and would never think of themselves as an evangelist. They often have good reasons for thinking this way and the western culture we live in is fairly resistant to church as they perceive it. So two reasons surface:
1. I am no good
2. No-one wants to listen
Both of these reasons are lies but of course the devil is the father of lies so he likes to promote them as truth. There's an interesting story in Mark 3:11,12 to prove the point:
"Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” 12 And He earnestly warned them not to [a]tell who He was."
When demons encountered Jesus they felt compelled to tell people who He was. I love the King James version which says "he straitly charged them that they should not make him known."
There are two fascinating ideas here. First of all demons are evangelists because they are compelled to announce the Son of God, and secondly Jesus tells them to shut up. In my last blog I suggested that there is a right time to share good news and sometimes it is better to say nothing but instead walk alongside people first. It also seems to be true that some people (or demons) are better to stay quiet!
However what about us? What is keeping us quiet? Is it the voice of Jesus or another voice?
My wife, Faith was led to Christ by her non-Christian sister who later became a Christian. I know it is a little unorthodox. That event created a ripple effect that ended up leading me and both our extended families to Christ. All from someone who had not yet met Jesus only heard about him.
If demons can be announcers of Jesus as the Son of God and my non-Christian sister in law can be an evangelist, what is stopping the rest of us? We are back to lies again. There is a narrative we buy into that says "I am not good enough" or "people don't want to listen." Is that true?
If we think of evangelists as the negative stereotypical bold, perhaps insensitive types who confidently breach the subject of Jesus regardless of who and where, then perhaps that is not who you are. Those types are probably immature or have wrong motivations. That's why we need to recruit and train genuine evangelists to be bridge builders in our communities. We need Ephesians 4:11 evangelists to equip the church. However that is a specific kind of evangelist and probably not the majority of people. Yet Paul could write to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5 and say "keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."
Timothy was not a bold person, Paul advised him to resist the spirit of timidity (2 Tim 1:7) yet he also told him to do the work of an evangelist. It is possible to do the work of evangelism according to your own context, character and personality. In fact if we are going to follow the gift mix of Ephesians 4:11 you could be a shepherd/pastor type and the way you bring people to faith in Christ is by shepherding them into the kingdom. That is the work of evangelism. If what I am saying is true this releases us from false stereotypes and allows us to be ourself. Reach out to people who you naturally connect with in a way that is natural to you. Don't disqualify yourself.
Is it true that no-one wants to listen. No, that is a lie. Good news is good news, we just have to communicate it as such. I work in a community hub and recently a man came to visit me. This man was active in the local community helping people with alcohol addictions. I admired his work and asked to meet with him. The first thing he told me was "you need to know I am not religious." Fair enough I replied. He then went on to tell me that he believed he had a guardian angel that helped him through his own struggles, he also told me that he prays the serenity prayer morning and night, and finally that alcoholics hurt people including themselves so he had to practice forgiveness a lot. At the end of our conversations I told him "for someone who believes in helping others, angels, prayer and forgiveness, you may not think you are religious but you are certainly on a spiritual path." To which he laughed and said "I have never thought of it like that." People do want to talk and listen, we just need to find a way.
If you are reading this blog you are more than likely to be more than qualified and able to connect with people in a sensitive way, so let's stop listening to the wrong voices, if demons can be evangelists so can you and I.