Same place, same people, two very different outcomes. All in the name of evangelism (the preaching of the gospel) and reluctantly, “the winning of souls.” I’ve said it before, I am not in favor of any evangelism definition that makes it synonymous with the soul winning. You can check out the links at the end of this article to see why.
In a small town nestled in the Andean mountain range of Ecuador there were two evangelistic campaigns. I was at both of them. At one I was a participant, but not involved with the administration or direction of it. In the other, I was deeply involved in the planning and organization along with many others.
The first campaign was everything that comes to mind when thinking about these sorts of events. There were big speakers, a podium, microphones, productions, preaching, enchanting music, and emotional pleas. The sponsor of this event, another church, had gotten permission from a local school administrator to put on this campaign on school grounds. It was centrally located in the town and there’s no doubt that many heard all of the fanfare and were curious. It was a good show. But, as evangelistic campaigns go, very unsuccessful. In fact, the whole affair ended up upsetting quite a few folks in the town.
The second campaign was in the same place. But this time, instead of speakers and podiums there were paint and brushes. We brought a group to the school to give it much-needed makeover.We invited members of the community, and many showed up and worked alongside us. Meals were made, small discussions groups formed naturally, people laughed, shared stories, and got to know one another. As we served them in their need, they began to serve us. It was like a Luke 10 bringing of peace into a community and having it return to us. Of course there was a bit of hesitation in the light of the previous campaign, but our work there was clearly one of love and there were no strings attached, perceived or otherwise. We did not presumptuously “intend,” we graciously “attended.” Let’s just say that now, in that town, there are many who have come to know Christ and are growing in Him. In fact, there will soon be a new fellowship/church plant where previously there was only hostility to the gospel.
In comparing these two campaigns, it might be easy to decide which you like better, but perhaps not so easy to determine which was more biblical or “christian.” What I do know, is that there are some evangelism shifts to be considered:
Moving from putting on shows – to – showing people that they’re loved.
Moving from getting people to raise their hands in a service – to – having a hands raised in the service of others.
Moving from the collection of people – to – compassion for people.
Moving from instructing people – to – investing ourselves in their lives.
Moving from calling people to the altar – to – leaving our gifts at the altar.
Moving from getting people to go to an event – to – going to the people and being eventful.
Moving from Acts 17 – to – Luke 10
1. What is your opinion about evangelistic campaigns?
2. Are one of these approaches more biblical than the other?
3. What other shifts would you recommend?
For related links, see: