How do people perceive evangelism?

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

Alvin Reid, in his book Sharing Jesus without Freaking Out: Evangelism the Way You Were Born to Do It, writes this pithy but powerful statement:

Lost people are more amazed at our silence than offended at our message.

His point reminded me of something Nabeel Qureshi often said. Here’s one version:

Evangelism is more than memorizing facts and apologetic arguments. Sometimes it’s enough to simply be a friend who cares and asks questions. I remember one time in high school when I was still a staunch defender of Islam. Betsy, an outspoken Christian in our school, cared enough to ask me a question. She had a soft yet adamant demeanor, which made the rest of us feel uneasy.

She asked me a simple question, “Do you know about Jesus?”

At the time I remember thinking, “Betsy is crazy.” We were in the middle of Latin class! All the same, I immediately gained respect for her. Why had the other Christians never asked me what I thought of Jesus? They thought I needed Jesus to go to heaven, right? Were they content with letting me go to Hell, or did they not really believe their faith? Her question meant she believed, and she cared whether I believed.

Would you agree or disagree with Alvin and Nabeel on this point?

In other words, do you think being open about your faith will lead to your friends and family respecting you less - or respecting you more? Will it break trust - or build it? I’m curious to hear what you think - and why!

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #2

This is a good question, @CarsonWeitnauer. I believe getting less or more respect about evangelization would depend on the person whom we are evangelizing. I believe that a person may hate me evangelizing because they would think that I’m imposing my belief on them, then there are people like Nabeel that would respect me as a result.

Personally, if I’m an unbeliever, I would be like Nabeel, or Penn Jillette, who would respect people who proselytize more. I remember this quote attributed to Penn in an article I’ve read:

“I’ve always said,” Jillette explained, “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward.

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Jillette then offered this example to illustrate his point: “If I believed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, that that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point that I tackle you, and this is more important than that.”

In light of this, I guess if the church is silent about the gospel, it would beg the question if we really believe in it. If we’re truly convinced that all are sinners, that all would be judged unless people are in Christ, then it would really show one way or another in our words and actions. If we truly love God more than men, then it would show in how we share, like in being socially awkward would not have priority over something that is a life and death situation. If we care about being socially awkward, then it might mean we care more of ourselves than others, since if God is our priority, then it’ll show in our concern with other people’s eternal destiny.