I’m not sure that yelling at people is the best way to introduce people to Jesus. If you happen to like getting people upset, getting called names, and arguing all the time, you might like yelling and holding up a sign.
First, let me simply state that holding a sign up and all of that is your choice. If you believe that that is the most God honoring way of evangelizing, have at it. You don’t need my approval to go out and preach the Gospel like that, it is your right. I’m not a big fan of it, but that doesn’t mean God cannot or will not use it. It isn’t for me.
If you are not a glutton for punishment and would like to have a more rational conversation with someone about Jesus, I would like to suggest a different model.
I prefer a more relational model for evangelism. Now, this is going to sound a bit contradictory, but bear with me. I am building relationships with people to build relationships with them. I am not building relationships with people to get them ‘saved.’ But through my relationships I believe there can, and will, be evangelism.
If a relationship is built on getting someone saved, then we have entered into a conditional or agenda driven relationship and not a friendship. My agenda is to love a person simply because God loves this person. In other words, my hope is to represent Jesus Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, as best as I am able. Then, through that relationship, I will allow the Holy Spirit to move and guide me as the friendship grows.
Simply put, we are to follow Jesus and love people as God loves them. We are called to imitate Jesus. Through our love we make God visible to the world (even our enemies), just as Jesus made God visible to us. Because of this, our actions matter a lot more than our words.
Words will come, trust me. As I have said, I have faith that God’s Spirit will move in the relationship and when the time is right, the door will open. My prayer is that I be aware of when it opens.
Signs and bullhorns are easier. I can stand on a street corner and rationalize the rejection of the Gospel (I can even quote Scripture). There is much less emotional involvement, too. I don’t have to feed them, clothe them, shelter them, or give them water. I just have to tell them that they are going to hell.
Being like Jesus means that I will have to sacrifice and share the things I have. It is a pain, really (see: The Other Jesus). Sharing the Gospel like Jesus did is costly. It is, I believe, far more effective.
For the next few posts I will be writing about ‘incarnational evangelism.’ I hope it is helpful.