yep. You read that right.
evangelism is like Halloween.
oh, that’s bound to get me in trouble. I can hear it: “sacrilege!” “blasphemy!” “heathen!”
or maybe you’re thinking I’ve completely lost it.
evangelism. is like Halloween?
For those of you who will click away because you don’t have time to read a crazy woman’s blog, see ya later.
But for those of you who are saying “okay. I’ll bite. WHY is evangelism like Halloween?”
Here’s a little glimpse into the crazy that is me.
My kids go to a non-denominational Christian school. When they were little, every few years, one of them would come home from school in October and tell me that one of their teachers had told their class that celebrating Halloween was a sin. They came home with horrible stories about pagan practices and a load of guilt bigger than their backpacks.
I always responded the same way.
Me: “What does Halloween mean to you?”
Kids: “costumes. candy.”
Me: “That’s right. Do we practice any of those pagan rituals?”
Me: “What do we do with our jack-o-lanterns?”
Kids: “make jack-o-bread.”
Me: “What have you dressed up as on Halloween?”
Kids, alternating:“Minnie Mouse, Blue from Blues Clues, Cinderella, Jack Hammer Rescue Hero, Sleeping Beauty, Darth Vader, Barbie, a pirate, Boba Fett…”
Me: “That’s right. In our family, we celebrate Halloween because dressing up and trick-or-treating is fun. Costumes and candy. It’s sad that some people only see the bad things about Halloween. They’re missing out on all the fun part. Besides, you know what that means?”
Me: “More candy for us.”
If you came away from that story with “Salvation is like getting candy.” then I am a terrible writer and you should just CLICK HERE and go waste your time somewhere else.
Here’s my point: Our family’s approach to and motivation for celebrating Halloween has nothing to do with the horrible things associated with Halloween and everything to do with what we love about Halloween.
Are there horrible things associated with Halloween?
We don’t celebrate Halloween because of those things.
Moving on to evangelism.
Over the last few weeks, I have learned the hard way that “evangelism” is not a simple word with a commonly accepted definition. Let’s look at two of them:
1. The spreading of the Christian gospel by preaching or personal witness.
2. militant or crusading zeal
Here’s what that definition looks like on the other side of my personal filters: “Being a witness to what Christ has done and is doing in my life – because I’m so passionate about it I can’t keep it to myself. Sometimes through opportunities to speak to a group, more often than not, one on one, within the context of my personal relationships.”
My approach to and motivation for sharing how my life is impacted by my faith in Christ has nothing to do with “militant or crusading zeal” and everything to do with the fact that my relationship with Christ is the best part of my life.
Some people, who know about the “militant and crusading zeal” definition (maybe because they’ve been a victim of it in the past?), will be hard pressed to hear any talk of Christ through any other filter. They would rather I shut the hell up. And be gone.
But here’s the thing. I don’t often talk about hell. Not because hell doesn’t exist. I believe it exists just like I believe pagan Halloween practices exist. And I’m not afraid of talking about hell. It’s just that hell is not at the forefront of my mind or my motivation when I talk about what Christ is doing in my life.
Rather, my passion for Christ stems overwhelmingly from the foundational peace and joy I experience because I am saturated by the intimacy of my relationship with Him.
So, to review. How is evangelism like Halloween?
Let’s extract two key paragraphs and compare:
Halloween: Our family’s approach to and motivation for celebrating Halloween has nothing to do with the horrible things associated with Halloween and everything to do with what we love about Halloween.
Evangelism: My approach to and motivation for sharing how my life is impacted by my faith in Christ has nothing to do with “militant or crusading zeal” and everything to do with the fact that my relationship with Christ is the best part of my life.
Is Halloween about pagan practices for you? Does evangelism mean "militant and crusading zeal" to you?
I am sorry for your loss. and more candy for me.
Tangent: Notice something. NOWHERE in the original definition #1 or in my filtered definition #1 is there ANY mention of converting people.
MrYehbut: “Well, you can’t deny that converting people is the goal of evangelism.”
Maybe for some. But they hold to a different definition of the word evangelism. Conversion is not my goal. Please don’t put words in my mouth or ulterior motives up my sleeve.
How am I so sure I don’t harbor a hidden goal to “convert” someone? Two reasons: (1) I am abso-flippin-lutly confident that I can’t convert anyone. Only God can do that. (2) I love being a stepping stone in someone’s growth. It’s my favorite part about training and coaching. I love asking people questions and I love learning what makes them tick. The side benefit is that I usually learn something in that process.
Danger Will Robinson. Rant Ahead.
Here’s the thing. I understand that there are people who have been a victim of “militant and crusading zeal.” I’ve been a victim of militant and crusading zeal. But I saw the zealots for who they were. A misguided fragment. I did NOT automatically stuff all Christians who talk about their faith in a tiny little box and write them off as annoying wackadoodles to be ignored or venomously and sarcastically ridiculed.
I personally believe that most reasonable, tolerant people are intellectually capable of evaluating individuals and situations on their own merit.
Evangelism means different things to different people. I’ve explained why I tell people about my faith, but I haven’t explained how evangelism fits into my everyday life.
So I gotta tell you, when someone stamps “militant and crusading zealot” on my forehead before they get to know me, it’s my faith in God and my respect for them as an individual that keeps me from looking for my own stamp. The one that says “lazy bigot.”
Yep. That’s bound to get me in trouble with somebody. I can feel it already. “Bloggin blind” is liberating.
“You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.”
“Witnessing assumes that the results are up to us; being a witness assumes that the results are up to God…In biblical evangelism, there’s nothing you have to memorize, no techniques or sales pitches to practice, no complicated philosophical arguments to comprehend and communicate. It’s just telling your story naturally, in the midst of the many divine appointments the Lord gives you each day. In the biblical sense, a witness does not always witness, but a witness is always a witness who shows others what Jesus had done and is doing in his or her life…In fact, being an effective witness is as easy as inviting [someone] to have a cup of coffee.”
Going Public with Your Faith
by William Carr Peel and Walt Larimore
This is the 12th post of a series. CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.