Another great guest post in the Rookie Pastor Paternity Leave series.
My wife and I exited the Dunkin Donuts with a purpose: to enjoy the chocolate-dipped cream-filled goodness that we had just purchased. Keys in my hand, I hit the remote as we left the building, and as the door unlocked, the old man standing next to our car came alive. Shuffling towards us, he stared intently in my eyes and handed me a brochure. Before I could say anything, he quickly asked me, “Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?”
As I mentally face-palmed, I politely told him, (cue friendly smile,) that “Actually, Sir, I’m attending school to be a pastor.” This did not deter him.
Immediately, he replied sternly with, “But have you been saved?” Mentally, my face was taking quite a bruising.
But it didn’t stop there.
He invited me back to his trunk so he could share with me the amazing variety of tracts he has to offer. Meanwhile, my wife was sitting in our air conditioned car enjoying her doughnut.
Being an evangelical, there’s that underlying reality that we are to evangelize; we are to go into the world and make disciples. I can appreciate that, but there is a right way and a wrong way. It should go without saying that if your way includes either leaving a tract as a tip, or popping open the trunk of your Cadillac (which, I might add, could hold at least 4 bodies,) then you’re probably well into the “wrong way” territory.
The core of evangelism is loving people. And let’s be honest, the old guy who delayed my doughnut probably had the best of intentions in mind. Sometimes the wrong way of going about things is also the most obvious. I’d like to think that the best way to evangelize to other people isn’t the way of the creepy guy on the corner, but in the intentional, immersive act of loving people, and showing them the love of Jesus Christ in practical ways. Because after all, Jesus seemed to make it a point to first meet people’s needs before telling them to go and sin no more.
Being a good evangelical means being a Good Samaritan. That means we need to identify people who are broken and needy and meet those needs, regardless of who or where they are. Will we have to escape our church bubble and venture out into the world? Yes. Will we have to develop relationships along the way with people who have no intention of ever visiting a church? Absolutely. Our mission is messy, but meaningful. The last thing we should do is cheapen it by reducing it to an awkward parking lot encounter.
What’s sad is that we aren’t much different than the holy people who walked around the beaten traveler. How often, for example, when we are driving to church do we stop to help the homeless guy on the sidewalk, or the person struggling to change a tire. Probably not very often. I wonder what the church would look like if we took evangelism a bit more seriously.
Christopher Kerr a senior at Point University in Atlanta, Georgia. He is married to a wonderful wife, Rebecca, who shares his passion for loving God and loving people. You can read more about Christopher and his posts at www.semitheologian.com.