Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bad Evangelism

Back in 2000 while visiting Calvary Campground for the first time, I discussed evangelism methods with another man staying there. He compared my survey technique to Ray Comfort, an evangelist who later became known for co-hosting “The Way of the Master” television series with Kirk Cameron. At the time I didn’t know who Ray was. I had simply adopted a witnessing approach that quickly helps me determine someone’s spiritual beliefs.

Some Christians don’t like The Way of the Master evangelism method because they see that as too condemning. In almost every video I’ve seen of Ray or Kirk ministering to others, people are asked if they ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, and lusted after someone. One Scripture often quoted to support this type of witnessing is Galatians 3:24: “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

One minister in Florida didn’t want me handing out cards from his church because he thought my style of evangelism was too similar to The Way of the Master. Normally I use the law only when witnessing to individuals who think they are going to heaven for being a good person. Otherwise I usually just quote Romans 10:9 and then review the gospel with them. I don’t believe it’s necessary to go over a list of sins with people who already recognize their need for a savior. 

Nevertheless, some Christians seem to thrive on pointing out the bad things people do. Perhaps you have seen street preachers calling everyone sinners and saying they are all on their way to hell. Timothy Keller once said, “Bad evangelism says: I'm right, you're wrong, and I would love to tell you about it.” Negative preachers need to remember it’s the goodness of God that leads one to repentance (Romans 2:4). The word gospel itself means “good news”, not bad news.

While I don’t agree with everything taught by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron, I applaud them for encouraging Christians to share their faith more. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” If every believer obeyed the Great Commission, we might see the return of Christ that much sooner. Regardless of how we witness to people, our labor in the Lord is not in vain as long as we speak the truth in love.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:17

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