Evangelism ‘On the Way!’

Evangelism ‘On the Way!’

Isn’t it fascinating how the Lord Jesus used so many informal settings as teaching opportunities. Reading through Luke’s gospel offers us some revealing insights as to how Jesus used this style of teaching as he travelled from Galilee to Jerusalem. Luke contains all sorts of stories and questions and metaphors for how Jesus interacted outside of the pulpit, if you like. It is a book filled with a variety of parables. Importantly, most of them are about everyday stuff with no connection to the Bible or church or anything religious at all. Jesus used them to cleverly connect with people within their own cultural contexts.

I believe that one of the reasons many Christians struggle to effectively communicate gospel truth to people on Monday through Saturday is because they talk to unbelievers like it’s a Sunday! We may be able get away with the God language on a Sunday but not the rest of the week.

I think that the parables of Luke remind us that many of our relationships with unbelievers don’t get built from the pulpit or in a formal teaching session; they get built on the road, so to speak. In Niddrie that can mean in the car on the way to the chemist for their script (Methadone/Valium etc), giving someone a lift to town because you passed them at the bus stop, going to the local hairdresser, the job centre, the doctors, at the corner shop. Most of the best conversations I have had have been off the cuff, chance encounters in the street and I have just decided to change my schedule. Flexible spontaneity, I call it. That’s where some of the more middle class members of my church fall down. They are task focused. They won’t cancel or delay that meeting they are on the way to, no matter what. Someone may stop them in the street but they miss out because they are on their way somewhere. The problem is that we’re all on our way somewhere! The key to a more intentional life is to develop an ‘on the way’ evangelistic heart.

Many people whose lives are task focused and driven by their diaries don’t like chaos and so they desperately try to impose order upon it. Many believers here think that I have some secret gift for getting people want to hang out with me on the scheme. But I don’t. I just pursue people. I am constantly intentionally alert and sensitive to any all opportunities that present themselves. I take a real interest in people. I hang out with them whether we talk about Jesus or not. We need to be a people whose prayer cry is:

 Break into my day Lord and help me to break into somebody else’s.

So much that I read about community and missional living is concerned with fitting people into the structures of our day and our lives. That works fine in ‘order world’ but in ‘chaos city’ that doesn’t fly. In chaos city missional living is on the fly, spur of the moment, intuitive decision making that has to deal with the immediacy of the person in front of you. They need you NOW, not a week on Thursday when you have a free window.

I wrote on Monday about how serious we take God’s command for us to give our lives over to Him and His service. God’s will for the disciples was to send them as sheep among wolves. Why is it then that so much of the talk about mission and evangelism reads like a health & safety pamphlet? We’ll be doing risk assessments next before we embark on evangelistic service! I hear lots of chat along the following lines:

God wouldn’t want us to do anything foolish or too costly. He wants us to use our common sense after all. We must be wise in what we do. We wouldn’t want to burn ourselves out. What good would we be then?

Don’t worry, I think many Christians are so wet they wouldn’t set alight if they were dipped in paraffin and lowered into an active volcano! The Bible I read tells me that God doesn’t want us to burn ourselves out. He wants us to do more than that! God wants us to give our lives!!  Do we realise what it costs to ask somebody to turn to Christ on a housing scheme? The pressures are enormous. What cost many of us who just drive in, deliver this wonderful news and drive back out again? Or live here, call them to a life of self-sacrifice and promise to meet up with them for an hour once a week if we’re not too busy. What are we really willing to sacrifice for the gospel? Where’s the line we won’t cross in terms of service? Where does our ‘Yes, but‘ enter into this type of thinking? We shouldn’t be be selling people a product we’re not buying and using ourselves.

Evangelism on the way means learning to listen well, keeping our spiritual eyes open to instant opportunities, being spontaneously flexible, walking with people through the mundane and, very often, being willing to go the extra 10 miles for the sake of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We ask a lot in Niddrie but nowhere near as much as God requires from those of us who promised to forsake all to follow the Lord.