29 April 2010

More on Evangelism

Thank God we are free to evangelize here in America. Sure, sometimes people feel a little too free to do stupid things sometimes in that regard, but I'm very thankful that we can all believe in what we want to believe and even bug other people about changing their beliefs.

Yup. I'll just remember that next time the Mormons come to visit. We live in a big Mormon tourist town, you know. Some head honcho guy in that religion got himself locked up here way back when, so people from all over the world have to go and look at the *very* spot he was imprisoned. Doesn't matter that the jail isn't there any more and it's just a reconstruction. I guess it's the Mormon equivalent of going to the Holy Land or something. Why else would anyone travel hundreds of miles to a place without a decent Perkins? I am so totally asking the next Mormon I chat with for more than five minutes about that, why that's important to them. The thing is, you can't really tell who's Mormon and who's not unless they're wearing their name tags. :)

Well, I think I know Truth when I see it, but as long as someone's not being obnoxious and I don't think the real motive for coming by is to case my house, I'm happy to hear opinions or mini-sermons about stuff. I'll even take your literature and read it. I know other Christians at this point are probably screaming that if I take their literature, I'm letting untruth have a foothold in my life, and I'm letting in forces of spiritual darkness in and letting Satan speak into my life or whatever whatever whatever.

As Elf told me today, "I'm ready to learn about other religions so I can find out the answers to the hard questions." I let him read the Evangel about the different religions in Eurasia, and it has an excellent little synopsis of what people from each religion believe. Unfortunately, the magazine has fallen apart after so many readings and I'm not sure if I should laminate it or not. It's a lot of work to do that. But I might.

In any event, I'm not afraid of your truth and I would way rather hear what you think about stuff than have everything be about a one-way conversation that includes my using repentance-inducing phrases like "turn or burn, bayybee." I would really like for you to be saved (according to my understanding of doctrine, including immersion and magical "in Jesus' Name" spoken during the ceremony) because I really believe this stuff. And if I care about you, I wouldn't let a silly thing like you not talking to me again prevent me from presenting the Truth to you if I genuinely think it's time.

So. About that evangelism. I'm a bit uncomfortable with staged evangelistic events. I can't imagine anyone REALLY comes to know the Lord in a deep and abiding way because some dude passed out a plastic water bottle at a Jesus-Loves-You event. I mean, it's possible. There's that verse somewhere about even a cup of cold water being important in the Kingdom and all that.

But still.

One thing that bugs me about church organized evangelism events is that it usually goes down like this: A group of people know that they want to hand out water bottles because church XYZ did it and it's cutting edge to put your church name on the label. Make sure you have a kewl logo, or no one will want to come to your stuffy church. Then they get together and pray about the logo for the bottles, and "the Holy Spirit leads" them to the one that fits their budget and looks pretty good. I do stuff like that, too, but I'm just not going to admit it to you publicly. And I have a deeep revelation here for reallio that works for me: I've found that sometimes, juuust sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is just go to sleep and don't make a big decision today. Just go to bed. Quit trying to do it all. Take a little comfort in the fact that God did not call you to be the Saviour of the world. Amen and goodnight. Tomorrow, after you've had a bit of sleep, things usually look clearer. Most of the time. :)

Just be who you are, where you are and let God use you!

One place I passed by on my way somewhere else was an Olde-Fashioned Methodist Church. A beautiful old building, stunning brickwork and a quaint location. On the side, though, was some sort of ultramodern poster proclaiming that it was "The Door." That's it. A little photo of a fancy doorknob is supposed to make you wonder what this groovy place is all about and go check it out because it's THE place that God is chillin', maaaan.

Sigh. What's wrong with old brickwork? I'd want to sit in a pew and sing from a hymnal in a place like that. What's wrong with that? Be who you are... and... "The Door." is not it, you guys. I'd feel totally gypped if I visited and the doxology wasn't spoken with much fanfare, or if they redecorated the inside with strobe lights and did the "dry ice smoke during worship time" thing. (Yes, I've seen this actually happen in a church. I don't smoke, or I'd light a lighter during the slow "worship" songs.)

On Wednesday, I was sitting in church and the pastor announced that there would be a new ministry going on in the neighbourhood. I should have trusted the poor man more, but all I could think of was the corny friendship evangelism I've seen in the past. I honest to goodness started praying fervently. "Ohhhh, pleaaase, God, don't make me hand out waterbottles and tell people Jesus loves 'em and I do tooooo and tell them that they're so speeecial, pleaaaase, God... and please let me bring to mind a prior commitment if the ministry is all about guttercleaning because I'm too fat to fit on the ladder... LORD, please help meeee..." Oh, no kidding, I was trevailing in my head there for a sec.

Thankfully... the water bottle thing was not the idea of the staff. *whew* Seems they actually prayed about doing something, you know, actually useful to others.

Do you know what they did? They went to a place where church members already had a connection and... waiiit for iiiiit... they asked the people there what they could do to help them out. They didn't just jump in with some water bottles and a free car wash!

PRAISE GOD! I started crying right in church. Who'da thunk, praying about stuff and then asking someone what they needed?? I mean, I could really do something like this if I could arrange toddlercare. I would love to do that.

They *asked them what they needed.* Wheww. Still in awe at this novel idea. I have myself a good pastor. Now, this whole thing hasn't been announced in any detail yet, so I don't want to give it all away, but I will say this: the ministry? Is something G has wanted to do for a long, long time. It would actually be a blessing to HIM to learn how to do this thing for other people who can't do it for themselves. He has a lot of energy, and he sooo needs to expend it on something more useful than beating the next Pokemon boss.

I'm telling you, I haven't been excited about any sort of "ministry opportunity" in years. But I'm excited about this. Actually meeting a need and doing something useful for someone else. Yeah.

It's all good stuff.

4 comments:

  1. I can't begin to tell you how irate I get when churches go off like a damp squib prosetlyzing the neighbourhood without A. consulting God, B. consulting their congregation or C. consulting said neighbourhood!!! It is a real beef of mine. You've got yourself a good Pastor there! ☺

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  2. I have myself a good pastor too! Our church focuses on the transforming power of God in our lives through a relationship with him. He believes relationship first is the key. He started going on archeaological digs awhile back and the first two times he went he introduced himself by his name and town. He didn't share what his line of business was because he was surrounded by a bunch of atheistic scientist (some turned atheist by some terrible church experiences). They got to know him first and, when they found out his line of work, they already knew the man and knew he wasn't going to pass out water bottles and wash their cars for free! LOL They are comfortable enough with him to ask about faith, especially when confronted with a crisis. I think that's pretty cool!

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  3. why who in their right mind would waste their time actually helping out and doing something practical?! jeesh! you gotta get on to the next house and try to be more efficient in your time to save souls! lol!!

    definitely good stuff!

    talking about recognizing a mormon, my friend in high school came to one of those chrisitan versions of a halloween party dressed in a white button up shirt with a tie, bicycle, helmet and dad's rootbeer. i had to laugh...

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  4. As an American living in the Middle East, I've come to feel that it's disrepectful for anyone to try to convert others to any other religion. It's basically saying, "You're wrong, because you don't believe what I believe."

    --Mary in Morocco

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