When I was six, I encountered evangelists for the first time. They came with leaflets to a park near our home. I liked the colorful illustrations telling the story of Jesus. I knew many of these stories already—but even as a first-grader, I wasn’t so sure about peddling Jesus.
Many of us have grown up understanding—a bit uncomfortably—that evangelism and witnessing are central tenets of Christian faith. But sorting out what this means can be tricky. Speaking of faith in a situation of genuine friendship and mutuality can be deeply meaningful. But when evangelism becomes an exclusive understanding of who God is with the goal being membership in the Christian tradition, I’m wary. Christianity is not a product to be sold.
This is how I understand evangelism. It’s not about me or my corner on truth. Evangelizing is a verb meaning to announce the good news. We are not recruiters or sales people out to win people for Jesus. We are Christ-bearers, made in God’s image, called to be God’s hands in a world sorely in need of Christ-like acts and words. I give thanks for a church that knows evangelism to be about good news for all!
This message was adapted from “Restoration of Life” written by Julie K. Aageson that first appeared in the May 2011 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.