I received an e-mail newsletter today from Building Church Leaders that spoke about evangelism. The author of the article lamented the fact that he did not possess the gift of evangelism. Which, by the way, cannot be found in the scriptures. There is the gift of the evangelist - a person whose calling is to devote his or her life to sharing the good news (See Ephesians 4:11). But, no gift of evangelism.
He did - to his credit - talk about the fact that he and a friend would often hit the streets of Chicago looking for someone with whom to share the gospel. He recognized that his lack of "giftedness" did not stop him from sharing the good news. This is good. I would hope that all Christians begin to think this way.
I decided to visit the site to see what kind of resources were available. One of the first things I saw was a survey entitled: 20 Questions to Evaluate Effectiveness in Evangelism. I decided to check it out.
As I looked through the questions, it became obvious that this survey was operating from what I would call the field of dreams perspective. (i.e., if you build it (the organized church) then people will come.)
The survey could have asked, "Do church members intentionally build relationships with the unchurched in order to win them to Christ?" Or, "do church members "rub shoulders" with unchurched people during the week in order to build relationships with them?"
Most of our evangelistic efforts in the church today are focused on the "just get 'em to church" and then evangelize them attitude. I don't know of any lost people who get up in the morning thinking, if "I could just find a good church, I would find meaning in my life."
We have to take the good news to the streets. We have to meet people where they are and introduce them to the one who will accept them just as they are. (Jesus, of course)
We need a different paradigm; one that says, we have to build relationships with people in order to win them to Christ, build them in faith, and send them back into the world to influence others.
let's "get 'em to Jesus" first, then "get 'em to church."