I used to be really into converting people to Christianity.
You couldn’t really blame me. I was introduced to evangelicalism during my teen years, a time when you’re most impressionable, credulous, and passionate. When you believe something as a teen you believe it fervently and with your whole being, and you’re absolutely bursting with a passion to embody it.
And evangelicalism puts a pretty heavy emphasis on “witnessing,” “sharing your faith,” and/or “leading people to the Lord.” (Hence the name: “evangelical” means “one who brings the good news.”) I learned about the ABC’s of salvation (Admit you are a sinner in need of grace; Believe that Jesus died for your sins; Confess him as the Lord of your life) and how to lead someone through the Sinner’s Prayer. I was encouraged regularly to invite unbelievers to church or youth group with me, and reminded that if I didn’t take initiative my non-Christian friends might burn in hell forever (and it would kind of be my fault.)
And so it was the in my late teens and early twenties, I was on fire to bring the good news to the unbelievers of the world.
It didn’t work out so great for me.
In fact, some of my most profound regrets in life involve my attempts to convert people to Christianity.
I thought I’d share my stories with you, both to amuse you (they are intensely humiliating) and so that you might learn from my experiences. (Plus, I’ve already written them. I shared them on my first blog which I have since deleted because it is so embarrassing; I thought I’d re-post these few stories here for your edification.)
Now don’t get me wrong. I still want folks to come to know Jesus, and to become fellow members of the Kingdom, so that they can experience the love and freedom he offers. I rejoice at the addition of brothers and sisters to the family, so that we can work together to bring heaven to earth.
But my approach is dramatically different now that it was a decade ago. In part because my life is different; but also because my understanding of what it means to “bring the good news” has evolved.
In the posts to come, I want to explore some of the ways my understanding of evangelism has changed.
Image by B Baltimore Brown.