Thoughts on Evangelism: A Reason for the Hope that We Have
In high school, I worked in the shoe department of a local discount department store. I was trained on the cash register, on where the merchandise was located, and…that was about it. After a day or so, I was left in the department by myself, unsure and full of anxiety. What did I know about shoes??? NOTHING!!! I could ring people up and make simple transactions, but when questions came my way, I was lost. In order to compensate, I quickly came up with little pat answers that got me by when customers would ask me questions. “Will these shoes stretch?” “A little,” I would answer. (Pretty much, all shoes might stretch a little). It was a stressful, unpleasant experience and during every shift, my main goal was to simply get out of there. Was this because my giftings were not in retail? perhaps. More importantly, I really did not know what I was doing. I was just waiting for someone to ask me a question or a situation to arise that I was woefully underprepared for. This anxiety made me hate selling shoes. In fact, I returned to the store a few years ago to take a look around. I walked in and the familiar smell of leather and perfume hit me in the face. I had a visceral reaction and decided memory lane was not worth it. I turned around and never went back.
Many of us do not engage in sharing the good news because ultimately we don’t know what we are doing. We have and enjoy the product, but we don’t really understand it. I am not calling all believers to get a theology degree before sharing the Gospel, but I know we desperately need our teachers to present the elements of the faith in Jesus in graspable, digestible ways. This work is scholastic in nature, but more importantly this work should be didactic at heart. Teaching is the ability to present revelation in an accessible manner that leads not only to an increase of knowledge, but inward transformation. Jesus was able to do this through parables and other illustrations. We certainly need good scholarship, but we are especially in need of good teaching. It is my opinion that the mark of a good theologian is the ability to get to the truth. The mark of a great theologian is the ability of awakening truth inside of others. Our gospel guidelines and other teachings on sharing the good news should be authentic and simple.
At the end of the day, the greatest evangelism tool is the example of a life transformed by the love and grace of Jesus. It is not my intention to stop anyone form sharing the Good News, due to a lack of unanswered questions. I am quite ok with letting the Holy Spirit fill in the gaps. What I am interested in seeing is the ability for every believer to naturally share the life transforming story of salvation with those around them.