The “Visitors”

This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.


Talk to You about CheesesWhen I attended Baptist churches “back in the day,” I was expected to go “Visiting.” That meant participating in some very intentional and formulaic evangelism. Church members would gather at the church at an appointed time and then go “visit” people. Sometimes invited, sometimes just expected and sometimes the visits were “cold calls.” In every case, the circumstance was the same. The Visitors (always in pairs) were expected to show up at the home of someone they had never met, knock on the door and talk to them about Jesus.

My view on that?

Creepy. “oh great, the Christian stalkers know where I live, pull the curtains, turn off the TV and the lights and everybody be totally QUIET till they go away” creepy.

or is that just me?

Surprisingly, more often than not, The Visitors reported that people responded graciously, even when they said “no. I actually do NOT want to talk about Jesus” and “no, you definitely can NOT come in.”

In spite of my personal aversion to Visiting, I actually believe there are ZERO limitations for how people come to Jesus. I’ve heard stories about people coming to Christ through visiting, street evangelism, Christian tracts left in a public restroom, billboards, songs, bumper stickers…you name it. I agree with author and theologian Steve Harper when he said:

Every form of evangelism works for some people.”

But the fact is, those things don’t draw people to Christ. Only God can do that.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 6:44

I believe God can use anything and anybody to draw people to Himself.

I’m the one who places limitations on what God can do. Both back in the day AND today.

“Visiting?”

Never did it.

NEV.ER.

Not once.

And at one of those churches I was the music minister’s wife.

The music minister’s stubborn wife.

I used to say that evangelism wasn’t my spiritual gift.

But I knew the truth then and I know it now. I don’t like “Visiting.” Especially cold-call visiting.

KMN.

So while I don’t decide what God can and canNOT use to draw someone to Christ, it appears I do decide how I myself will be open to being used by the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that about myself, does that mean that given a chance, I would choose to go “Visiting?”

pshhhh. no.

If another Christian told me that all Christians “should” go Visiting, would I go?

nope.

If God prompted me to go Visiting, would I go?

hhhhhhhh.

I know me. and I’ve read the “yeah, but” conversation Moses had with God when God told him to do something he didn’t want to do. I would explain to God that those types of encounters are not my forte. I would remind God that I myself find that type of evangelism off-putting. I would remind Him of the fact that I am a witness in my everyday interactions with people. I would point out specific people He placed in my path, opportunities He provided and how I responded. I would ask him to equip me for those personal encounters. And I would conveniently neglect to mention the opportunities I let pass because I was too much of a coward to speak.

And if God listened to all that whining and still prompted me to go cold-call “Visiting?”

I would stall.

And eventually go. Because I’m not that stupid. I’ve also read the story of Jonah. Disobedience is MUCH more uncomfortable than cold-call evangelism.

So, yes. I would go. But I wouldn’t like it. And God would know it. Because He’s God. and He knows me. No need for pretense. That’s one of the best aspects of an intimate relationship. No need for a pious charade.

Just obedience.

The truth is that being a witness for Christ can mean very different things to very different people. Here are a few examples. (I must admit. My favorite is the guy with the megaphone.)

That video showed 7 variations on evangelism. My thought on each?

1. no.
2. no.
3. no.
4. no.
5. no.
6. no.
7. YES.

In my last post, I said that I’ve learned the hard way that the word “evangelism” does not have a one size fits all definition and that my personal working definition of evangelism is:

“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.”

Within the framework of that definition, evangelism doesn’t take place at a certain time or place. For me, evangelism takes place in my everyday interpersonal interactions.

tolerance is a two way streetThat means in the context of my everyday interactions with people, I am very open about my faith. Because I’ve learned that if I hide the thing that is most important in my life from the people I interact with in an effort to make them more comfortable, we will never be true friends. They will never know who I really am. I will be a big fake. The hiding would be deceitful. I tell people about my faith in Christ because it is such a integral part of my life that to hide it from people would be to hide myself. It would keep people at a distance.

So if you would be more comfortable with a fake friendship, I’m not your girl. We will never have a running text thread. And you will not have your own unique ring tone or text message notification on my cell phone.

We will never be more than acquaintances.

Here’s what evangelism looks like in my life: When I interact with people, the first thing I want to do is get to know more about them as an individual. I ask questions. I listen. I ask more questions. and I listen. Sometimes, the other person shares something about their own life or experiences or goals or dreams or obstacles or fears that calls to my mind something in my own life and experience – something which relates in some way to what they’ve shared with me. Since Christ is such an integral part of my life, it’s only natural that those experiences would be saturated by His presence and influence.

I don’t filter Him out of my life stories to make other people more comfortable.

What about you? Do you filter out what Christ has done and is doing in your life in an effort to make people more comfortable? To make yourself easier to like?

Are you hiding the most important part of yourself and in the process, sabotaging the potential for authentic friendships? Are you keeping people at a distance? Settling for another acquaintance when you could have a true friend? What happens if you give the other person more credit than that? What happens if you trust them accept you for who you are even if they are different than you?

Sharing what Christ has done and IS doing in my life occurs naturally within my interpersonal relationships. It stems from a genuine extension of friendship and respect. It stems from authentic transparency.

I used to think that if I was transparent about my faith I would be rejected. Sometimes I am.

Because sometimes?

We are not as tolerant as we would like to think.

But more often than not, I’ve found that people are very gracious. More than tolerant. Friendly and engaging even. Even when we don’t agree.

Why?

Because there is a HUGE difference between telling people what I believe and telling people what I think they should believe.

There is a HUGE difference between telling people how I live my life and telling people how I think they should live theirs.

There is a HUGE difference between telling people how my faith in Christ impacts my life and this:

The first is evangelism.

The second is just obnoxious.


“We are called to be witnesses – to show and tell what we have seen and what we know. We are to be a witness of the way that God, through faith, prayer, and the Bible, has transformed our lives.”

Going Public with Your Faith
by William Carr Peel and Walt Larimore


This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.

2 thoughts on “The “Visitors”

  1. Beautiful!!!!!!! My pastor’s consistent to us about evangelism is this: share your story! Uhhhhh, even when we go “street evangelizing”! LOL Seriously, it works! Thank you for sharing!!!

    Like

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