Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Do You Have Anything to Learn? - The E Word - Part 7

Part of my problem with evangelism has always been the worry that I don't know enough to share the good news.

What if they ask a question I don't know the answer to? What then?

Honestly, looking back, it's hard to imagine that this was a concern of mine. But I believe there are many people who don't share the gospel because they don't believe they know enough.

But this concern reveals larger problems with our Christianity:

First, we've lost our value for mystery. The Western church, especially after the Enlightenment, has specialized on information. We've taught the Christian religion as a series of doctrines that we have to get exactly right or we are in danger of the fires of hell.

Much of our division has focused on what we believe. Just look at how many Christian denominations currently exist. All it takes is one point of doctrinal disagreement for a new 501c3 is to emerge. 

And while we have focused on our doctrine, many of our lives look nothing like what we claim to believe. But that's not of any concern because at least we believe correctly, right?

We have lost our value for the mystery of God. 

The minute we claim to know exactly who God is, we become heretics. It is impossible to know every little detail about God. It is the sin of pride to claim to have perfect revelation of him. Now, God has revealed much of himself through Scripture and our experience, but God is still a mystery. 

If people ask a question you don't know the answer to in evangelism, feel free to tell them, "I don't know. But I'd love to study more with you on your question." That kind of honesty is much more refreshing than a "know-it-all" Christian who fools everyone about their knowledge of God except for God himself.

Second, we've forgotten that we need the Holy Spirit in our evangelism.

There are methods of evangelism that completely dismiss the role of the Holy Spirit in leading people into a relationship with Jesus.

In these methods, we have our lessons to present. The evangelistic target has 6 lessons to respond. If they don't respond, we wipe the dust off of our feet and move on because the person is not "receptive."


We plant seeds. We water the seeds. But God brings the growth.

The Holy Spirit must be a vital part of our evangelism, our sharing of good news. 

If we come to a point where we don't know the answer to a question, we shouldn't dismiss the question and go back to our study. The question might just be the very place we need to dwell and seek answers together. That point of resistance doesn't need to be ignored. It needs to be prayed over, talked about, and discerned together.

Which leads me to my third concern about the evangelistic concern about not knowing enough...

Third, evangelism is an opportunity to learn more about the gospel.

Have you ever noticed that outsiders have eyes to see the gospel in ways insiders cannot? After you've underlined your Bible, you tend to notice the underlined portions and stop noticing the things the Spirit still wants to teach you.

We love to master things. We want to know the five steps that will make us a better Christian. And after we master something, we put our degree on the wall and bask in the glory of our Master of Divinity degree. (I have a Master of Divinity degree and I don't think there's a more arrogant degree title than the one I own. Master of the Divine? Not quite!)

One of the biggest tests of evangelism is if we believe we have anything to learn when we share the good news with people who are seeking Jesus.

When you study with people who are trying to find Jesus, do you believe you have anything to learn? 

Your answer to that question is so important.

Because evangelism is not an opportunity to put another notch in your belt. Evangelism is an opportunity to learn more about the gospel than you currently know.

If you've ever taught a class, you know that the teacher always learns more than the student. It's one of the reasons I love my job so much. I believe one of the reasons God called me to preaching is because he knew I needed the structured study of Scripture as part of my job to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

One of the most humbling experiences I've ever had is reading Scripture with someone who is reading it for the first time and hearing the Holy Spirit reveal things to me through that person!

Do you have anything to learn? 

If not, you might not be ready to share the good news.

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