Evangelism: We can do better…

A recent trip to Orlando found me in my favorite restaurant—the one with the golden arches.

While stuffing my face with a Sausage McMuffin, I hummed to the piped-in music. Connecting the sounds with the auditorium where I spoke the day before took a while.

The “Aha, these people are bringing Jesus into McDonalds” soon faded into “but no one is paying attention to it.” I laud the attempt but feel frustrated that so much of what we try to do on an institutional level falls on stony ground.

A few days later, my wife pulled me into one of her favorite art supply and crafts stores. There we found a couple of people softly singing to the music as it wafted over our shipping carts. But if those folks knew the words, they were already in the family. These efforts at cultural influence are admirable but do not result in evangelism.

Our political actions intended to impose our morality on those Paul called “outsiders” don’t do much good either.

Then there are church signs. You wonder who these people are talking to when they proudly announce “Welcome Home” to those passing by at 60 miles per hour.

Down the road from my house, a church building (as opposed to an actual church) declares “No perfect people allowed” as if a sign is going to change a life. They recently moved an inch toward motivating their people toward evangelism with “An invitation can change a life.” But can it? And if it can, wouldn’t it be better to spend time with a non-believer than to invite them into a setting where most everything seems unfamiliar and perhaps threatening?

The granddaddy of them all has to be “Church Shopping – We’re open on Sundays.” At least the McDonalds folks were trying to take something of the gospel to people other than those who might be tempted to move from one congregation to another.

We need to do better than this if we intend to fulfill the Great Commission and the personal responsibility to “do the work of an evangelist.” Maybe something like “having favor with the neighbors” resulting in “the Lord added daily to their number” might work.” What do you think?

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