In Sermons, Teachings


JR. Forasteros - August 25, 2013


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I think Dayton is the first town I’ve lived in that didn’t have some version of this guy in it. (At least, we didn’t… now there’s a guy down on Dayton-Xenia sometimes.) And I always find myself on the receiving end of the bullhorn, which is ironic, since I’ve been following Jesus since I was a kid. In undergrad, there was a whole group of Christians who stood out in the town square every weekend shouting condemnation at the various people who hung out down there. I was in a band in college, and we play a lot of shows at a club on that square, so we were condemned as heathens and sinners fairly regularly.

I went to grad school at the University of Missouri, which has an area outside the library called Speakers’ Circle. A guy named Brother Jeb (who apparently tours the country on these shouting tours) would spend a few weeks every year standing in the circle, telling anyone who walked by they were going to hell. I was singled out a few times by him, too (I think because I have tattoos).

Even some of the less-confrontational methods of evangelism are pretty painful.

When I was a cook at Applebees, I always dreaded a server storming into the kitchen trailing a stream of obscenities because some Christian had left a fake $20 that was actually an evangelism tract. (A guy I follow on Twitter recently pointed out that pastors think those are a whole lot less cute when you leave those in the offering plate.)

Most of us have been exposed to those kinds of evangelism. And even if we’re generous and assume those yelling and leaving fake tips really are trying to do the right thing, we recoil from that and say, No way. Evangelism’s not for me. If that’s what telling people about Jesus looks like, I’m out.

That’s not what telling people about Jesus has to look like.

Fake 20

We’ve been spending time with Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom of God all summer. We’ve heard how Jesus invites people to join in with him, to embrace the new life he offers. And it doesn’t look like tricky tracts or shouting and condemnation.

The reason everyone found Jesus so compelling is because he was the real deal. His entire life was a proclamation of God’s Good News. His words matched up with his actions. You could follow him around and see this new life he talked about wasn’t just talk. He was living it every day. All the time. It oozed out of him, spilled out onto everyone he met.

The problem with Evangelism isn’t that it’s inherently ugly or cruel. If it were, how would any of us come to Jesus? It’s that we’ve managed to disconnect the announcement of Jesus’ new life from actually living that life with the people we’re announcing it to.

It’s actually a bit like the experience of watching a film without the music.

If you’re a movie lover like I am, then you appreciate a great music score. It often gets ignored, but when a movie has truly excellent music, it makes the difference between a great film and just a good one. It’s probably easiest to see in horror films. We don’t realize it, but the music in a horror film is what makes them so scary. [cue the Psycho music again]

The tense music prepares us for a scare, and then enhances that gotcha moment when we jump out of our skins. If you’ve never tried it before, watch a horror film with the sound off. They’re nowhere near as scary. Because the music is an integral part of the whole experience. If you take away the music, you’re not experiencing the whole film. You really lose the experience itself.

The same is true of Evangelism. When we separate the proclamation, the announcement, from the meat of our lives, our words seem hollow and empty. As worthless as a fake $20.

When we connect our proclamation and our lives, our words and our work, Evangelism is a whole lot less scary, and a whole lot more powerful.

Join us Sunday as we explore the picture of Evangelism in Matthew 10.

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