Evangelism is Dying
As a nonbeliever, one of the most annoying things about Christians is evangelism. They stand in the streets on their soap boxes, they leave tracts instead of tips, they infiltrate soup kitchens and donation centers, and most annoying of all, they visit neighborhoods and knock on doors. All of this effort to spread the Gospel and Christianity only has 8.3% (Pew Research Center, 2012) more followers than the next biggest religion, Islam. I can’t think of a time when I’ve been approached by a Muslim, Athiest, Hindu, or any other religious person, trying to convince me to believe in their faith. How do they get their believers? Why does it seem like Christians are the only ones that need to evangelize to gain more believers?
Do Christians Evangelize Because They Truly Care Or Because It Makes Them Feel Better About Themselves?
This week we discussed the topic of hell. If there is anything that would scare me into believing, it would be hell. Heaven doesn’t sound particularly appealing to me, but if hell is real, it’s not somewhere I’d want to be.
This is where I come to a crossroad in what I find annoying about Christians and what I think Christians need to be doing more of. While evangelism is annoying to me (I can't vouch for all nonbelievers), if Christians truly care about the state of nonchristians and where they go when they die, why aren't they out there doing something about it? Research shows that more people believe they are responsible for sharing their beliefs than actually do so. As seen in the image below, 100% of Evangelicals believe it is their responsibility to share their beliefs but only 69% have actually done so. Of mainline christians, 54% believe they should share their beliefs with others but only 42% have evangelized to others. Of the 34% of Catholics that believe it is their responsibility to share the Gospel, 33% actually have.
Is this because most of the people they evangelize to are quick to dismiss or are purely uninterested in what Christians have to say? Or is it because shoving their ideas down peoples throats because it's what God wants them to do is no longer an affective method in a time when everyone can believe what they want, do what they want, and live how they want? Preaching at people only seems to push people farther away from knowing Jesus, which I believe is the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing.
I personally don't think that outreach or evangelism are affective methods of reaching people or teaching them about the Word of God. My church talks about reaching 10,000 people but I find that to be physically impossible. I understand that churches need goals, but I think it's a little farfetched that a church with 100 people can reach a town of 10,000 (Insert cliche scripture here about how we can do all things through Christ). I can't help but wonder if churches want to reach people to make their numbers larger or because they really care that people are going to hell, dying and overdosing on drugs, and simply just not knowing Jesus.
Why Isn't The Church Working Together?
I quickly googled how many churches were in the vicinity of where my church is located and I got a list of 10 other churches. I know for sure there are a lot more, but for my purpose of the search, 10 is sufficient. Regardless of denomination of the 10 churches, from what I know, the goal of Christianity is to glorify God. This can be done in various ways, but spreading the word of the Gospel is one of them, and definitely important. If each church has a goal of reaching 1000 people, that seems a lot more feasible than one church reaching 10000 people.
Sharing your belief with me isn't going to make me believe in your belief though. I need to see your belief in action. I need to see people's lives changing, not just hearing stories about how someone was at the end of their rope and Jesus saved them. I want to see the Church working together for a common good instead of seeing them competing at festivals or parades for the best booths and who has the highest number of people they talked to that day or how many flyers they passed out. Each church on its own can only do so much, but imagine the possibilities if churches actually worked together. Perhaps there would be less people in hell.
I Was Invited To Church
I was fortunate enough to be invited to church by Sean, from the Empty Church crew. It was so long ago now that I can't really remember why I said I would go. He didn't shove his beliefs down my throat or try to trick me like those pesky evangelists. Honestly, it wouldn't have worked. We were friends and he wasn't some random person telling me I was going to go to hell unless I was saved. I don't even remember discussing religion with him at all beforehand. The church at the time, and the same church I still attend, was growing in popularity and in tension between its members. There were power struggles between pastors and members, members were leaving left and right, friendships were destroyed, cliques were formed, the church essentially halved its membership. It was just an awkward thing to witness, especially when I was exploring faith for the very first time, and I was very observant of everything that was going on. Was that how all churches behaved? Was it something I wanted to be a part of? Were those people representative of all Christians?
Those questions are all still things I wonder about today. I am not a believer and I have a lot of doubts. I still go to church and I find Christianity and its believers to be truly fascinating. Unfortunately, the beginnings of my faith journey put a damper on my ability to trust the church. I understand that the Church is made up of humans that make mistakes and disagree sometimes, but just know that there are people out there that are watching the Church's every move. People that need Jesus.