01/01/10 "Initiative Evangelism"
First day of the New Year and I've already failed. I've fallen short of my goal to have at least one witnessing conversation every day. The good thing about it is I won't have any temptation to be proud that "I haven't missed a day all year!" I'm also glad that I haven't made any promises that I can't keep - after all, this is a goal, not a vow or a sacred commitment. It's simply a goal that I ask God and others to help me with.
So why did I miss yesterday? It's simple. I didn't take the initiative. I used to pray that God would send opportunities my way to share my faith. I sort of expected some obvious "Divine Appointment" to happen, whatever that's supposed to look like. I hear that phrase a lot in Christian circles, and whatever it is it somehow means that one way or another God himself will take the initiative to put a person in my path, or cause a conversation to naturally start, where there is no risk of failure on my part because I didn't stick my neck out to make it happen. Oh I might do all sorts of subtle, goofy things to drop hints to people that I'm a Christian and would love to talk about it - but for years I expected them to get the hints and take the initiative. What about all the hints from a lost world that they are looking for someone to care, someone to reach out to them? What about the escapism or slow suicide of drugs and alcohol, or the arrogant boasting of beautiful people trying to convince others that they are "living the dream", or the loneliness of the guy reading a book in public when he could just as well read it at home? In our non-confrontational culture people simply aren't going to admit they are lost, and most don't even know they are. But Jesus tells me otherwise, and He says "Go".
Of all the terms for it - street witnessing, personal evangelism, outreach, whatever - I think the phrase "Initiative Evangelism" best describes our role. Jesus commands us to go take advantage of the opportunities around us, not to passively sit back and wait for opportunities to come to us - "divine appointment" or otherwise. Wherever there are people who have a little time to talk there are opportunities, and for us as people of faith it will always mean that we must step out of our comfort zone. For me, I'm not going to consistently step out of my comfort zone without deciding on purpose to do so in advance, and so at this point in my Christian journey I need to set some sort of unnatural goal to get myself to do something that I guess should come naturally. Maybe one day it will; God isn't finished with me yet.
I want to encourage you to take the iniative - set an everyday evangelism goal on Steve Sanchez's Everyday Club at http://StoneThePreacher.com In many ways, it has been one of the best and most helpful goals I've set.