One thing that we need to realize is that evangelism is not about growing numbers. Its about growing hearts. Or growing love. Or spreading God love. Those things usually produce numbers but that's not the point. The point is to spread the good news!
In a sense, I understand the dilemma. How does one passionately follow Jesus without looking like a Jesus FREAK!!!!!!??
Well seeing that one of my responsibilities is to equip people to do spiritual things today is your lucky day! This short 4 step program will guarantee that you too can sow seeds of good news without feeling like the smelly kid in the class. So stay with me. It's just this easy...
Step 1: Know where you are.
Get a map or a compass if you have to but in reality 60% of the population has no strong affiliation with a church, mosque or synagogue so the excuse that "I don't know anyone looking for a church" is not really true. Very few people are "looking for a church" but many are searching for deeper meaning and a way to connect so that they may make the world a better place. Listen to people and hear what they mean (not just what they are saying) and try and help them find what they are looking for - EVEN IF IT MEANS SENDING THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE!
These people may not be your friends or close co-workers but they do exist and you can find them at the grocery store, library, car-pool line, subway stations, bus stops, schools, doctors office, etc... This leads me to...
Step 2: Pray for guidance
Well this seems obvious but I often forget the obvious so I thought I'd mention it here. Sometimes we desperately want to share our blessings with others but don't know where to start. Ask God to show you how to be the person you are created and called to be. I guarantee you'll get an answer BUT be careful. The answer may surprise you. If you are truly open to the work of the Spirit, God may introduce you to someone while you wait for your tires to be rotated that is looking for a church home OR God may show you a news article on foster children in your area that tugs at your heart so much you add on three rooms to your house and take them all in OR God may tell you to quit your lucrative job as a computer programmer and go to seminary to become a pastor. Crazy huh? It happens.
Step 3: Follow Through
Spiritual growth is not a check list (as much as I would LOVE for it to be so) that you just mark off each day. "Read Bible - check. Pray - check. Invite neighbor to church - check. Go to church - check. Give money - check." All good things and all important things for different reasons, but the main reason we are called to "make followers" is because of the follower and who we are following. It's not enough to just invite. It's not enough to just shake their hand at the door of church. It's not enough to just pray that the church will grow and do nothing else.
If you meet someone who is lost do you just buy them a map and hope it turns out okay? No! You get a map and look at it together and walk with them on their journey until they safely reach their destination. And - very important here - you usually don't just say "Oh I know where that is. I'll drop you there." (and then distract them so much they can't find their way back.) You help them find what they are looking for and make sure they understand where they are going and how to get there because sometimes they'll need to get back there again on their own.
If a spiritually lost person is searching and you want to help, help them with the entire journey. This will take more time. This will require you to build a relationship with someone you may not want a relationship with, but a butt in the seat is not the final goal - a life of abundance is.
Step 4: Believe
I know we are out of order here but usually we start out spreading the good news about who God is because of what we believe and along the way we end up spreading news more about what our church is doing and we tend to forget about the reason why.
Believing in what you are doing will show itself in all aspects of your life. If our mission as a church is "to make new and better followers for Jesus" then I not only have to reach out to make new ones but I also have to make sure that a) I am one and b) I'm working on the "better" part.
Step 5: Stop reading and start doing
Hah - I threw in an extra step. Why? Because there are no magic steps to grow your church and there are no magic steps for you to become evangelism leader of the year. DON'T focus on the numbers, the empty seats, the check list that I and many other wish life had but instead focus on God and people. Love God, love neighbor, love self and if you do this it will flow that way that God intends for it to go.
Until Everyone Hears,