Last night, we started our 14th evangelistic series in 7 years. This is probably my 40th+ in my years of ministry. We’ve been able to see a number of really good things happen because of evangelism, not the least of which has been over 1,000 baptisms.
Some people think evangelism is dead and doesn’t work anymore. I don’t agree. This post is a simple answer why I think that. I call this reasoning Evangelism Intelligence.
People travel through life with a variety of circumstances, issues and experiences. But when it comes to making decisions for their life, they tend to follow this four-fold path to decision making.
CHAOS –> STRUCTURE –> PRINCIPLES — LIFESTYLE
We tend to make decisions to move us from Chaos based on a structure that helps us see our way out of chaos. From there, we begin to live according to the structure and begin to understand life principles that we slowly move into to make decisions by. Then after years of principled living, we find we just naturally make those decisions because those principles have simply become part of us and we no longer think about them anymore.
People who have been in church for 7 years or longer tend to live by the principled approach. They no longer need the structure that provided them an entry point into church – evangelism. People who live in chaos, are generally the ones who come to our evangelistic meetings. They want to understand the Bible more. They want to know what truth is. They want to listen, learn and be led. They are looking for a basic understanding of truth – a structure – to get them out of some of the chaos they might live in. (This does not mean their lives are in chaos, but possibly their theology, their understanding of life, or simply looking for a more structured approach to seeing life)
Our evangelism provides structure. Our evangelism gives a way out of theology chaos, life chaos, marital chaos, and all kinds of life chaos. People who live in principles or even in lifestyle tend to look back on the structure and want everyone to be like them. But we are all at different stages of life. People need structure. Then they can move into principles. (More on this later) People who live in the principles or the lifestyle don’t like our evangelism, nor the advertising for it. I say, “That’s fine, it’s not targeted at you. It’s targeted at people who need and want the structure it provides. Eventually those people will get there after a few years too. Have patience with them.”
Leading people is often hard work. Some embrace truth readily and some embrace it slowly. Others don’t embrace it at all. It is still very much like the Parable of the soil that Jesus told in Matthew 13.
It’s really hard to watch people get excited about some truth yet when it comes to harder truth they begin to walk away.
No matter their response, I have to remember that my job as a leader/preacher is to do two things: (1) teach truth as the Bible unfolds. God’s job is to get people’s hearts ready to hear it. He’s working on everyone. I have to trust him to do what is right for the individual. I must be faithful to the text. However (2) I must also take a look at how I am presenting that truth. Am I speaking in a language these people understand? Does it make sense to them? Is it logical? Am I being faithful to my hearers as well as to the text?
In order to accomplish those two things above, I must first submit myself – heart, soul, and mind to God. Clearly I have to be connected to be able to preach with power.
As a pre-teen of 12 years old, I attended a series of meetings that changed my life forever. I was amazed at what I learned about God and His grace. I was fascinated to learn that He loved me, already knew me, and wanted to spend time with me. I was just a kid! I was overpowered by the idea that he didn’t want to punish us forever in an eternally burning hell, so he didn’t create one. Over the course of 6 weeks, I came to an understanding and love for God that can only be described as remarkable. My life was forever changed.
The day before we went to church for the first time, I was doing a sleepover at my friend’s house. I smoked my first (and last) two cigarettes that night. We were also beginning to experiment with alcohol. I already had a god before I went to those meetings, it was baseball. In 6 short weeks, my life was changed and so was my community. There was one less person who would end up as an alcoholic, one less person who would think of following the gods of this age and one more person (at 12) who would become a preacher.
We are currently holding a similar series of meetings in my church. It’s a prophecy seminar. As I watch people leave each night, I see amazement. They are amazed at the things they are learning. That God loves them. That God doesn’t burn the wicked forever. That death is a sleep. I know they are in for so much more. But for now, I know that their amazement will change their lives, their family, and yes, even their community for the better.
Yep. Jesus does just that.
They are simply amazed right now. I still am too!