The word "Evangelism" has some really negative connotations. It makes me think of people knocking on doors, ready to fire some presentation about the "4 spiritual laws" at you, trying to coerce you into saying some sort of prayer. I'll be honest, even as a pastor who has the gift of evangelism, I'm still scared of the word.
But when we understand what the word really means (if we recliam it from those who have given the word its negative connotations), we' don't have to be scared of it, neither do we relegate it to the door-to-door people, or those who want to argue you into agreeing with their view of salvation.
The greek word from which we get the word evangelism, simply means "telling the good news." It was a military term that referred to the people who would ride city-to-city, announcing the victories of Caesar (the 'King' of the Roman Empire). So, to do evangelism in the name of Jesus, we're telling people the good news about Jesus, our King. What's the good news of Jesus? The good news is that His love conquers all and is for all! Anytime you're sharing the love of Jesus, you're doing evangelism.
In April, I spent some time praying; asking God how I could get more involved in the community, with the hope of sharing Jesus' love with some people who haven't yet experienced it. A week after starting to pray that way, we found a flier for The Music Man tryouts in a Wal-Mart shopping cart. It almost brings tears to my eyes thinking of the ways we were able to share Jesus' love over the past 3 months through our involvement in The Music Man. Whether it was sitting in a bar late Friday night/early Saturday morning and having someone say, "I'm not too religious and I prejudged you when I heard you were a pastor, but you're a pretty cool guy" or being able to pray for someone who lost a loved one, we had so many opportunities to share Jesus' love. We were able to have spiritual conversations but we didn't need to force any conversations, we simply responded to the questions people had of us or TFC.
But what's really blown me away over the past couple days is how when you share the love of Jesus with someone; it often happens that you get that love in return, no matter where the person may be on their spiritual journey. I was thinking about this after Erin's trip to the clubs on Friday evening. Even though we were in a hurry to get over to GEHS to prepare for opening night, she was able to talk with some people at one of the clubs. While passing out the gifts is Erin's attempt to share Jesus' love (she said the ladies really enjoyed this months' gift) she was also loved in return. Guido, part-owner of Bonita Flats with whom we've gotten to be pretty good friends, told Erin they've been reading this blog (what up, Guido) and so he knew about our failed IVF attempt. So, Guido gave Erin a hug and encouraged her. Erin said she almost started crying, but since we were in a hurry wasn't able to talk much. But that's exactly how the Kingdom of God works; the love of Jesus just flows between people!
There were a few people in particular with whom we were able to build deep relationships with through The Music Man. But again, the love and investment goes both ways. We invested and loved them and they did the same for us. There was one person in particular we've been really fortunate to build a relationship with. On Sunday night, this person told me something that confirmed what I was already pretty sure of, that the flier at Wal-Mart wasn't just a coincidence. This person told us, "Wal-Mart is awesome because God answered your prayer there!"
Evangelism is sharing the all-powerful and all-inclusive love of Jesus Christ!