This past week I visited a megachurch. I mean, I guess I don’t really know what constitutes a “megachurch” exactly. I really don’t have much experience with church sizes. So, I’ll let you decide. When we rolled into the parking lot there were signs in different parking sections that said things like “A7” or “B4” so you’d remember where you’d parked. There were legit maps inside the building that said “You are here.” And when we entered the worship service I estimated I was looking out at a room of about 3,000 people – and this was only one of four services just for that morning.
I suppose it says something about who I am that my first thoughts were not really about the shininess of the room (it was very fancy!) or the magnitude of their children’s program (I probably logged about 2K steps on my fitbit trying to drop my 3-year-old off at his Sunday School class), but just how totally great it would be to have the opportunity to talk to this many people! I looked out over those 3,000 people and I thought about how cool it would be if I could just tell them what I’ve learned about evangelism:
If each one of those people, in just this one service alone, were to go out and tell just ONE PERSON about Jesus that week….well, we’d be practically done! In just a day or two we would have reached our whole city with the gospel! How glorious!
Instead, I know we haven’t even come close, and while I’d like to blame it on the 3,000 people in that megachurch service, I know that we’re up against a lot more than just not knowing that we should… instead I’ll give you three reasons why *I* often don’t share the gospel.
1. Feeling Unprepared
Having sat in church and listened to sermons – some long, some short, some complicated, some incredibly simple – I’m not really one to hear and then *do* immediately… I had never really uttered the words out loud and so while I knew of my own salvation, of my own story, I’d never really put it into words before! I’d never really thought how to communicate it! This meant that if my faith ever came up in conversation, I felt nervousness instead of excitement. Here I was with an opportunity to share Jesus with someone and I felt like I was probably going to botch it!
I know I’m not alone in this particular feeling, and I’m thankful that missions teams everywhere are working hard to teach people how to effectively share the gospel! So let’s start applying what we’d do in Malawi, Greece or Belize and apply it in our own back yards… but its still not easy… which brings me to the 2nd reason.
2. Fear of Rejection
Last year I was talking loudly with one of my Muslim friends at swimming lessons. I had met her there the previous year and we’d become friends. Now, the following year, I was sharing with her why Christians don’t need to celebrate Ramadan. Now, I’ll let you in on a little secret, I was talking loudly on purpose. I knew that sitting all around us was a Sunday school class full of moms from a local church. I knew this because I’d listened to them talking all week and I wanted them to hear our conversation. I knew they’d be encouraged by it. Because here we were, a Muslim and a Christian and yet we were most definitely friends!
I was sharing one of our inherent differences and she was listening. As we kept talking some of the other ladies joined in the conversation, asking my friend about her culture, being friendly, getting to know her. They were learning that people respond to our hearts more often than not. This was the lesson I’d had to learn, too! Our fear of rejection and confrontation keeps us from engaging and loving on people that are clearly different from us. Yet, once we jump the hurdle of our own fears we can find that talking to the people around us in the world is actually filled with possibilities to love others and share the hope of Jesus with them.
Confrontation will happen in life, but for me, it rarely has it happened over a conversation about Jesus (religion yes, Jesus no). My Muslim friend hasn’t accepted Jesus as her Savior yet, but she has heard the gospel and our friendship means that she’ll continue to hear it. But first I had to get over my fear of rejection.
3. Feeling Too Comfortable
Speaking of swimming lessons, I recognized myself in that group of women from the Sunday school class! They were having a grand ol’ time chatting with each other about their kids and their summer activities. It is comfortable and pretty nice to be surrounded by people that believe the same thing you believe. It’s also really nice to just be with friends. If we’re a Christian who attends church and is maybe even an active participant then that can mean that we spend a lot of time in our Christian circles with our Christian friends. Without realizing it we can spend all our time serving the body of Christ, rather than also adding to it! Because that group of ladies was large, all the other swim moms noticed them, and probably like me, had heard their conversations and figured out who they were. This isn’t a bad thing! There was just a really great opportunity that now they had missed. I know that because I’d missed it countless times myself. While we’re busy being comfortable, there are hurting and lonely people all around us! How many times have I laughed loudly with my friends at the park while lost people sat on benches near by? Changing my eyes into outward focused-eyes has taken practice, prayer and constant reminding. It’s not easy!
Yes, no part of this shift in thinking is easy, but it is worth the temporary discomfort to get to share the Good News of Jesus was a lost world! Next week, I’ll take these three things that kept me from sharing Jesus with the world around me, and give you some practical ways that have helped me combat them. Know that even in writing this article today, I am not a natural evangelist. But I do know what it feels like to feel lost, alone and without hope. I do not want that feeling for those around me. We are in a dark and broken world. We are its only chance at light.