Hi everyone, I was wondering if we should ever restrain from evangelizing, if there are any circumstances where it may not be appropriate. and if there were methods we should avoid when it comes to evangelism.
Hi @Daniel.S—this is an excellent question. Thank you so much for opening up this topic. I am sure our community is going to have some diverse insights on this! I hope it provides food for thought as you pray and discern how to faithfully engage the people around you as a representative of Christ.
I recently posted replies in a couple different threads which I think touch on your question. In a topic on How do I convince someone that they are not a good person?, I suggest that we are always sharing in God’s work in people’s lives—and those lives are on journeys just like our own. There are seasons where different ministries are called for. This is not an excuse to hold back from boldly sharing the gospel! It is an exhortation to genuinely listen to people and to prayerfully listen to the Lord as we minister to those he brings into our lives.
(Several of us have had another conversation recently in which I shared a testimony of a time when the Lord really challenged me in this as I navigated relationship with a non-Christian friend. That post gives a concrete example of how this approach could play out in a real life situation.)
I really appreciate this question, Daniel, because it has been a formative part of my growth as a Christian witness. What do you think? Can you imagine a scenario in which direct evangelistic sharing would be inappropriate? Do you have a particular concern or kind of situation in mind?
Thank you very much I’ll check those out later, but yes I am currently in NYC and there are so so many people here who need Jesus but where I think I have trouble acting upon a inclination to share the gospel is whenever I think that the person I reach out to will think that I am weird and thus whatever I say is weird so they won’t actually consider it as serious. And also I feel as though I will misrepresented the gospel to someone and it would be better if the gospel was being shared by someone the unbeliever already knows. But also these could all be excuses that I am making to compensate for a lack of boldness. What do you (or anyone else) think?
Maybe you could use a simple tract such as this one that makes a gentle but bold claim?
It has enough information to spark curiosity in a person, and people can google for more. Giving out a tract might open the path to have a good conversation with a stranger who is already seeking. God will bring people across your path.
The only verse I can think of when not to evangelize is by Jesus in Matthew 7:6; If someone is absolutely angry at the mention of Christ’s name it perhaps it’s unwise to go further - and perhaps just pray if it is someone who is a friend or acquaintance.
@Daniel.S I appreciate your desire to discern your own motivations: am I making excuses? And also your sensitivity to context: is this the time and place? Will my approach be faithful to the message? One thing is certain: we need to Spirit’s help to know our own hearts as well as to act with wisdom, boldness, and discernment!
So reflecting specifically on your current context for this question, I was thinking about my own evangelistic experiences around the world. I used to often be overwhelmed in mass crowds of people (like in Times Square!) by the awareness that much of this crowd is going to and fro with no real thought for eternity. Sometimes I have experienced acute spiritual anxiety, feeling the weight of personal responsibility to reach everyone…and then probably struggling to engage anyone…lol. And then just felt guilty and crushed by it all. So yeah, a super-healthy evangelist.
That is the point when I have learned to take a breather, pray, and realign my theological perspective; to remember that I am participating in what the Lord is already doing. I need to be bold and respond, but this is his mission. I minister with a lot more freedom, peace, and joy when I am resting in this truth. So I ask the Lord to guide me into significant conversations he has for me—for the notes I should play in the great orchestra he is conducting—and go about my business with openness, expectation, and attention…and respond boldly as he gives me open doors. An increasingly healthier evangelist.
Some people feel compelled to get a few words about the gospel in edgewise to as many passersby as possible. I understand that. There is a real urgency to our message! But I also find that conversations more often become profound (and quickly) when I have the opportunity to listen before I speak a whole lot.
Have you considered (or tried) asking people if there is anything they would like prayer for? That can be one approach that starts conversations and can provide the opportunity to listen and discern where the gospel is intersecting with their life before you share.
Does your particular reason for being in NYC provide you any unique opportunities for interactions or starting conversations?
The only valid restraint that I am aware of is when the holy spirit says wait. Obviously he knows what the other person is going through, where they’re at emotionally etc. Ravi talks about origin, meaning, morality and destiny. I have found that the Lord without my help starts a conversation for me with the other person and as I listen, I learn about them and this gives me the ability to ask open-ended questions about one of those four topics. When a conversation develops this way it is not forced and so it does not feel awkward or weird to the other person. Like @Lizibeth this usually happens to me as I’m just going through my day. Now there are times when I feel prompted to go out and evangelize and then I’m more direct and bold but most of the time it just sort of happens and all of a sudden I’m aware that the Lord is in the conversation and I go oh okay I know what to do now. LOL I too am a growing evangelist. One last thing, I believe that The Spirit will pair you up with people who need to hear what you know how to say, trust in his ability to use you and have fun. It is my greatest joy to see the Holy Spirit working in real time in the other person, right in front of me. What a privilege it is when we can partner with the spirit and touch eternity in someone else’s life. To God be all of the glory. I hope this helps blessings and Merry Christmas.
This is an interesting question. Many years ago I was have a conversation with one of my friends who had left the faith. He actually told me that he really hated when people said “I will pray for you,” because to him it made him feel like he needed to be fixed and others didn’t respect his choice. So in these instances perhaps “evangelizing” may not be the approach to take. When I spoke with him I was struggling in my own faith and we just talked about what was happening, why he left and why I was struggling. Those are just my thoughts
Thank you very much, and yes I can relate very much when I saw all the big crowds I just felt overwhelmed and then paralyzed, like am i looking at a crowd of people that are going to hell? And I have the way out another anxiety comes up about judgement day and how accountable I will be for not sharing.
But I really really like what you said about playing notes in the orchestra, that takes so much weight off of me. It is only God that can save a person as if God wills for a person to be saved He will save them regardless of me, is that correct?
Also yes I hope to become the person where it just comes up in normal conversation that would be the best, and when we listen that must help so much, often I get into the mindset of just checking boxes and I forget that these are actual persons we are dealing with here.
But yes that was actually something me and my friend did was go up to people and ask if we could pray with them
That is so amazing and I really want to strive for the point where it just happens like you mentioned, that very much helped me I appreciate it thank you
Right yes, that is a concern of mine, that the task will be inpersonal and it has seemed like that all the time when I do it, very seldomly has it ever been so genuine. And so I don’t want to damage any reputation. And I know this was a while ago but I just thought I may say this in case it comes up again, that poor performance of Christians does not falsify Christianity, your friend was acting as if he ought to have been treated in a certain way and the the Christians were not meeting that standard. However without God humans are just a product of randomness, so your friend felt mistreated, that implies there is a proper way of treatment, but you cannot mistreat a product of randomness if there were no God.
I hope I made that clear my thoughts tend to not be concise haha, also I did not intend for that to sound rash or harsh if it reads that way.