Apr 16, 2011
Unevangelism: A Different Kind of Invitation
I have been frustrated with a lot that goes on in modern evangelical circles for some time now, especially in the south. One thing that particularly saddens me is the invitation given at many Christian events.
It seems that many people who "accept" Christ at Christian events are in one of two disturbing groups. The first ones are believers who are feeling convicted about sin and will pray "the prayer" again and again seeking solace from their doubts. The second group is the ones who have prayed a prayer at one time to get to Heaven. These individuals are often looking for a get-out-of-Hell-free-card, yet they have never given their LIFE to Him.
This frustration has led me to investigate a different approach. So I thought I would see what Jesus did. His invitation was simply "follow me". Many people asked Him for eternal life who did not receive it (4 specific people in the Gospels). Why did Jesus turn people like the rich young man away? Because they would not follow Him with their entire being. People were instructed to count the cost, take up their cross and follow Him.
Count the cost? We do not even let people open their eyes so that we can save a new believer the embarrassment of others seeing his/her "private" commitment. Are you kidding me?
I recently spoke at an event where close to 25 people raised their hands to repent and turn to Jesus. I then asked them if they were already believers who just feel that sin has gotten in the way of their relationship with God to put their hand down. They were then instructed to talk to God about it in their seat. Over half of the hands went down.
I spoke at an event last night where seven teens raised their hands to follow Christ. I told them of the trouble Jesus promises and the suffering that Paul said accompanies a believer. I told them that Jesus said that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before His Father. I told them that I was going to let everyone open their eyes in a moment and to count the cost before keeping their hands up. Two hands went down. I pulled the five aside and began asking questions. It turns out three were already believers who just needed to start fresh. I prayed for them and dismissed them to pray with other believers about where they had strayed.
The last two were serious. They were pastor's kids. They had never really followed Christ. An event that could have boasted seven souls now had two. In fact one tweet escaped that said five had accepted Christ. In the end though, I went to bed with peace in my heart. Knowing that I had no doubts about the two that had endured the most awkward invitation of their lives (especially as pastor's kids with members of their youth groups present).
Christ has done ALL of the work needed for salvation, but lets not sugar coat the life that Jesus offers. It is tough, not for wimps, and at times all uphill. The good news of the Great commission is that He will be with us even until the end of the world.
I know in ministry that there is a pressure for numbers. It is easy to start viewing people as numbers. My challenge to you is to present the Gospel, but also define the cost, so that one can "count it" before picking up his/her own cross to die to their old way of life.