I started to title this blog Evangelism 101, but I wanted you to understand something I believe is critical to our mission.
That is, building relationships with a foundation of trust, mutual respect and friendship is at the core of what we believe “evangelism” is all about. Along with that, building a community that everyone can feel a part of is central to the kind of relationship building I mention above.
We have now been at our new apartment for nearly 5 months.
During this short time we have literally met and partied with hundreds of our neighbors.
Thats right, we partied with them. Not only that, we threw most of the parties ourselves.
In fact, in the last 4 months alone, we have thrown 12 parties for our neighbors and joined a few we didn’t host ourselves!
Now I know I may have confused some of you at this point, because most people/churches generally don’t commission missionaries to go throw parties with their neighbors. But let me tell you why we believe this is such an important practice for us.
1) Jesus was always at the party. We still believe Jesus is smarter than us. So this should be the only point I need to make. You see, I spent most of my life avoiding the kind of parties I now am hosting for the sake of purity. (And as a teen/college student that still was likely the best choice!). Then it dawned on me that Jesus loved to go to the parties that I generally avoided. Not only that, he made the wine!
2) Christians have a bad wrap for being boring “no-men.” Have you seen the movie, “Yes Man” with Jim Carey? Basically he has a curse put on him were he has to say yes to any proposition. It actually turns out to be a huge blessing as he actually starts to live his life to the fullest. Christians have a bad wrap for their list of no-nos. I’m not saying we should take part in sinful behavior. But I am saying we need to learn how to cut loose with the sinners like Jesus did. Sinners need Saints in their lives.
3) Most people will never throw their own parties. Most people will attend a party, but hosting it feels like too much work. All they need is a catalyst to start the party for them. We are the catalyst for the parties in our apartment community. People love us for that. We’ve never had so many unbelievers compliment us and tell us how much they appreciate how we have made them feel welcome in the community. Our neighbors are so grateful to us for throwing parties.
4) We have yet to find a better way to make friends. Simply put, its easy and natural to make friends at a party with your neighbors. Almost all of my lunches with neighbors and our dinner dates with other couples in our apartment have come through either our invitation or their invitation at one of our parties.
5) Evangelism is not an action, it is a journey. Evangelism happens as someone who is walking in the Light begins walking with someone in darkness. Too often people begin to tell an Atheist that Jesus is the answer to all of their problems. The problem with that is, they don’t even believe in a God, so why would they believe you when you tell them that a God who they don’t believe exists is the answer to their problems. The other problem is, they may not believe they have any problems. Life might be hunky dory.
Think of it this way. If you’re trying to tell someone how to get to the coffee shop on Main Street, don’t begin by telling them to turn on Main Street. First, ask where they are. Maybe they are very far away and need more direction, or maybe they are completely lost. If so, ask them to describe what they see around them. This will take much longer, but eventually they will get to the coffee shop. But if all you would tell them is to turn on Main Street over and over again, they would have gotten frustrated, angry and hung up the phone because you were being insulting and acting foolish. This is how people walking in the darkness feel when Christians treat evangelism like it is an act.
So pray that our parties are extra fun.
Pray that our neighbors continue to grow in relationship with us as we walk in the Light next to them. Pray that they ask us about our Light.
And most importantly, pray for more workers for the harvest.