Friday, May 04, 2007

death by evangelism

So, why, you may be wondering, all these blogs about evangelism? Who cares?

Me, I suppose. My recent adventures in witnessing have me wondering why I avoided it for so long.

Part of the reason, I think, has to do with my temperament--like the article in the previous post so aptly points out. I'm basically shy--although in the 30 years I've been involved in ministry, I've learned to step outside my comfort zone and hide the fact that meeting new folks can scare the spit out of me!

Plus, I was raised Catholic and taught to be very private about my faith. In fact, the only time I ever heard God mentioned while I was growing up was during grace at meals and when my dad got angry.

But truth be told, I've been deeply scarred by evangelistic campaigns. During our very first ministry, Greg and I were forced to be part of a "calling program" at the church we served. This involved small squads of people, armed with big Bibles and the addresses of innocent strangers, being loosed on our hapless town to share the good news.

I still shudder to think of it . . .

After a brief training on how to use the Evangelism Eruption program, Greg and I teamed up with Pastor Jim. We piled into his ancient sedan and headed for our first victim. No one answered the door at the first two places we tried, much to my great relief. After knocking on a third door, however, a rather harried-looking woman with a baby on her hip finally appeared.

"Hello, we are from Eastside Church of Christ. Could have a few minutes of your time?" Pastor Jim politely asked.

"Well, we just finished dinner and Jake's watching the game," she explained, trying to politely shut the door in our faces. Pastor Jim, who was determined to show his young charges--us--how to properly evangelize, pressed on:

"Oh, we'll just take a minute, I promise. Young lady, do you know where you'd be if you died tonight?"

The rest of the evening was so excrutiatingly painful that I've blocked most of it from memory. But I clearly remember Jake, sitting in his Lazy Boy with the remote in one hand and a can of beer in the other, trying to watch the football game. His team evidently wasn't faring so well, if his colorful commentary was any indication. Or maybe he thought if he cussed long and loud enough, we'd eventually get the hint and leave.

But Pastor Jim was on a mission. Even though Jake never once made eye contact with us, Jim launched into his well-rehearsed presentation of the four spiritual laws.

It was the single most awkward moment in my life!

I felt embarassed for Pastor Jim, who was oblivious to the inappropriateness of our intrusion. I was traumatized to be a part Jim's insensitive assault on this couple. I felt so bad for poor Jake, who just wanted to drink his beer and watch TV after a hard day's work, but instead was being tormented by crazy people.

But most of all, I felt embarrassed for Jesus. It hurt my heart to think that the Lord of Glory, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace was so poorly portrayed and badly represented that night. If Jake ever darkened the door of a church--or pursued a relationship with Christ--it would have been in spite of us and our evangelistic efforts!

You know, I think if Jesus had been with us, He'd have probably asked Jake for a cold one and asked about the score as He put His feet up on the coffee table.

After He sent us packing!