It’s that season of the year again. My church calls it the “evangelism season”.
My Pastor tells us to rise up in evangelistic fervor, saying that it’s the best time to invite friends and family to church. I scroll through the list of contacts in my phone. Who could I possibly invite to church this time? They all know the Easter story. I mean, almost all my friends attended the same Methodist school for a decade, what else could I possibly tell them?
I feel even worse during youth group. They tell us we can use social media to spread the gospel to our friends. Hand-written verses backed by lovely photography. Post titles like “Have you ever felt lost and alone?” Quotes by popular Christian authors saying “Don’t waste your life.” I shrink deeper into my seat. I’ve heard friends complain about people’s lives not living up to their inspirational social media feed. It’s not authentic, they say. I certainly didn’t want others saying the same of me.
When I share my reservations with my group leader, she quickly concludes, “You are ashamed of the gospel.”
How did she come to that conclusion?
I think back on my own conversion. It had nothing to do with the above-mentioned methods. While I had attended dozens of Holy Week services and came across hundreds of Christianese social media posts, such inspirational portrayals of the Gospel were not what convinced me of the truth.
On the contrary, it was the very real flaws of Bible characters and Christians around me that convicted me of the reality of the gospel message. If God could declare a liar like Abraham to be righteous, and an adulterer like David to be a man after His own heart. If God could bring salvation to that once vulgar and obnoxious senior in high school, or bring that ex-drug dealer to tears at His altar. If God would bother with sinners like these, then perhaps He wanted me as well. I wanted in.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly do not want to undermine special church services or social media outreach methods. I’ve seen people greatly encouraged by the message shared through these methods. But they didn’t work for me. And maybe they don’t work for you. What I’m saying is, we are not any less of a Christian for not using these methods.
So how do I evangelize?
I don’t. At least not in the way my church seems to want me to. Instead, I have people over to our home for meals every now and then. I keep close and regular contact with my non-Christian friends. Like everyone else, I attend their weddings, parent’s funerals, and kid’s birthday parties. I let them share their struggles, and they hear mine. And when they ask me how I get by difficult times, I tell them honestly that I draw strength from my hope in Christ. When they have to go for scary operations or their children fall sick, and ask me if I can pray to my God on their behalf, I do it gladly, but on the condition that they allow me to pray with them.
Several of my friends have come to Christ, and at least two families have come to attend my own church as well. Not only that, but God has used my attempts at openness and graciousness to soften the hearts of people who had been openly hostile to Christianity, and He has allowed me to build meaningful, growing relationships with people who believe differently than I do, so that the gospel may be shared, and perhaps one day accepted.
The power of the gospel goes beyond pretty Bible verses or famous quotes. Its reach is far greater than any charismatic preacher and marketing gimmick. The power of God is magnified through our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and I am certainly not ashamed to boast about them.
In sharing my life with those around me, I share my fears of being a mother or my struggles with youth ministry. In the reality and flaws of my life, may others see the glorious work of God.