Christians tend to find evangelism a foreboding or unattractive task. Christians may be reluctant to evangelize due to our North American culture’s over-saturation with the gospel. The culture has been overly permeated with shallow preaching, shallow examples of Christian living, and in some cases charlatans have grabbed the spotlight. All these influences, when taken together, give Christians and the Church a poor name. Christians intuitively know the message will be poorly received and therefore shy away from it. After all, no one likes rejection.
Others are repelled from the ministry of evangelism because it is considered a violation of ‘sacred’ codes of individualism. Thinking one is going to disturb a stranger or co-worker’s personal space by making a passing reference to Christ or the church often lurks in the back of people’s minds. Others simply live far too private and/or isolated lives and as a result, evangelizing is never even taken into consideration. To make oneself vulnerable and step out of one’s comfort zone to share about Christ takes courage and conviction, and many would rather continue in a state of personal comfort. This, however, should not be confused with the careful discipline of respecting individuals’ lives and conscience. It should always be a top priority of the evangelist, especially for new Christians, to be trained in thoroughly respecting a “no” answer. Failure to do so is to willfully take on the job of the Holy Spirit and force the gospel on others, the very thing which many are so turned off by.
The forceful presentation of the Gospel does not make the Gospel attractive. It makes the Christian presenter come across as untrained and in need of character development. I have yet to meet an atheist who forced his atheistic values on me. Other reasons for people being turned off are: improper timing, lack of relationship, trust, or incorrect context. We would do well to remind ourselves that when the Holy Spirit is present and willing, any context will suffice. When God is not empowering the activity, it will be wasted (or carnal) energy.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
– Psalm 127:1
In John 1 we observe a principle of networking which can be highly effective for drawing others into the church. Here, Andrew “spontaneously spreads the word to his brother” (John 1:41). Having heard John’s words, he almost unintentionally brought his brother to Christ. In merely spreading the word, Andrew’s behavior is exemplary for Christians today at the moment of inviting others to a church service, small group, or other church-related event (such as a concert). This is effective because it is solely invitational, and does not impose another’s values on the unbeliever or the un-churched.
Overall, I believe the best way to truly share the gospel, in addition to the above, is to build relationship with those in one’s personal sphere of operation. There are many facets of wisdom to this approach, but the foundation is probably the issue of trust. People simply can’t trust an ethereal concept articulated in philosophical or business terms. Unbelievers/the un-churched need to see an example of the character of Christ in the evangelist. Once the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to the aroma of Christ, it may become hard for them to resist it! Otherwise, it is hard too hard to win a person to Christ if there is no investment in relationship or evidence or aroma of the Savior during the interactions.