“What does it really mean to live by faith?  The response of faith is nothing more than obedience.  Faith begins with God speaking and materializes when we respond…..  A church begins to live by faith when its people move the things God has clearly said into the nonoptional category.  A church doesn’t need to pray about whether it should pray.  It doesn’t need to pray about whether it should serve.  It doesn’t need to pray about whether it should evangelize.”  Erwin Ralph McManus, An Unstoppable Force, p.150

“Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 31

Most of us know and understand this truth.  What is true for the church is true for individual believers as well.  Prayer, service and yes, evangelism are all things God expects from individual believers.  However the reality of our faith walks is that most of us give ourselves a pass on the evangelism part.  The excuses run from, “I don’t have the gift of evangelism,” to “I don’t know any non-Christians,” or  “All of my friends are already members of a church (which belies the cultural that church membership rather than a personal relationship with God makes one a ‘Christian.’   I have even had one person say, “If people don’t like the way we do things in our church, they can go somewhere else!”

These things may be a result of living in a culture that many conceive of being ‘Christian’ without a clear understanding of what a ‘Christian culture’ would look like.  The suggestion that a person might be able to be a member of a church without being a Christian is insulting to them.  To be sure, our culture continues to house many fundamental values that come straight from its Christian ethos but, as McManus points out, the core concept of being encountered by the Living God has not been a part of many people’s lives in our country enrolled in church memberships or not.

One of the things that has made sharing faith (doing evangelism) difficult for me is that there are few tools or mechanisms that seem natural to me.  Often evangelistic approaches come from a cultural setting that seems to me to devalue people with whom we are sharing faith.   Some people who have been exposed to these methods have come to expect that Christians want to condemn them without understanding them.  I find this critique of some evangelistic methods I have encountered to have a certain amount of validity.

What I long for is a tool or tools that honor the person with whom the message of Christ is being shared as a beloved child of God who needs the good news.  I want to proclaim an interest in them and a yearning to understand why they have come to the spiritual conclusions they have come to.  If I am not that interested in them, then  how can I expect them to be interested enough in me to consider the conclusions I have come to regarding eternal and spiritual things?

Recently I have been introduced to the work of SEARCH ministries.  It has been a welcome introduction.  They have devised tools for people who seek to share their faith in Jesus Christ in such a way that friends are valued, respected and invited to consider the assertions of the Bible.  While I haven’t asked them, I would say that the people of SEARCH understand that it is not their role to convince people—the Holy Spirit is the author of faith—but to simply be ‘witnesses’ of the truth of God.  People who want to share faith, to try different things that lead to spiritual conversations and opportunities to witness to what Christ has done in our lives, are given tools to use in trying to be obedient to that part of the call of the gospel.

Sharing our faith is not one of the options that some Christians take up.  For the person who seeks to follow Christ, it is the heart of obedience.  Certainly it is not the only thing we are called to do, but it is one of the things Christ calls us to do.   I am looking for some brothers and sisters who will say, “I need to do that too—lets find some models that give us a chance to learn those skills and experience the thrill of being a partner with God.


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