At every Cru conference, there is a day that some people don’t look forward to. Chances are, that you, like me have at some point dreaded the day we have to go into the community to evangelize. Personally, when the day comes, fear sets in on my heart and mind. Not knowing what to say, being looked at like I am crazy and babbling on like an idiot are fears that roar louder and louder in my mind the closer I get to the event.
As I walked through a mall on Ozark Lakes Summer Mission these fears began to dominate my thoughts. As I fought to believe the truth and not the lies connected to these fears, I noticed that Chase was wrestling with them too. Because I was aware of this battle all to well, I understood where Chase was coming from as he articulated his fears.
Chase recently graduated from LSU and is a student in my growth group at Ozark Lakes. Every Saturday our growth groups go into the community and have a great opportunity to share our faith. This Saturday, Chase was struggling to see evangelism as an opportunity. As we walked, he listed his grievances:
1) Chase was dealing with the idea of being rejected.
2) Chase mentioned that we could be bugging the people on their day off.
3) Chase wondered about the effectiveness of initiative evangelism.
After walking laps around the mall discussing his grievances, I made him a deal. I would initiate five conversations with people and then he would initiate with someone. From then on we could rotate who initiated the conversation. To goal of initiating five conversations quickly turned into me initiating with fourteen different people. Chase still wasn’t convinced.
We went for another lap around the mall and talked the ideas through again. After coming to the realization a few ideas, Chase was able to have ten conversations with people at the mall and sow the seed of the gospel into people’s lives. I am extremely proud of Chase and thankful that God allowed me to be a part of His working in his life.
Three things motivated Chase to Evangelize.
1) If all Cru staff advocate for this, then it has to be valuable.
Chase has a deep respect for his staff at LSU. When I articulated the same motives for sharing my faith as they have, he was able to trust the advice of our staff and became motivated to take a step of faith. Personally, the reason I believe in initiative evangelism is because the potential for heart change. I guarantee that by sharing your faith, your heart will come to a deeper appreciation for the gospel. In addition, you have a phenomenal opportunity to give that to someone else. There is something unique about initiative evangelism and its effect on the heart.
2) Success isn’t just conversion, it’s also “Taking the initiative…”
Within Cru, we define successful evangelism as “Taking the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit to share Christ and leaving the results up to God.” As I observed Chase, the idea of success switched from conversion to seed planting. This perspective is motivating because it takes the pressure off of packaging and articulating the gospel perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, we need to communicate the gospel clearly and in a compelling manner. However, when you are nervously stumbling through your words, this definition is a helpful reminder of what true success is.
3) Understanding the eternal ramifications.
The idea of Cojourners Evangelism is that each spiritual conversation has the potential to move a person closer to God. If we imagine a person’s spiritual life as a spectrum of knowing God then each conversation about God can help them move closer to making a decision to live for Christ. This is motivating for me and on this day, it motivated Chase to share because he felt that he could tangibly do something to help someone. Initiative evangelism moved from bugging someone and interrupting their day to engaging with someone with life changing news that could help them move closer to trusting Christ.
Join me, Chase and many others in working out our fears of initiative evangelism. If we all can do this well, we have a great opportunity to connect someone to the love of Christ and change their life for eternity. In the process, we can take a step of faith and grow to become a better steward of our spiritual influence. The truth is, the reward far outweighs the risk.