The Terrible Evangelist!

explore-the-worldI’m a terrible evangelist. There, I’ve admitted it. I lead an AOG church in the north of England, I’m a pastor and I love to lead God’s people; but I’m a terrible evangelist.

Now my story doesn’t end there. I may be a terrible evangelist, but lately I’ve been learning, in little baby steps, how to express God’s heart to our world. It’s a journey that’s changing me and our church quite deeply and I want to share it with you.

In 2007 my city, Hull, was hit by catastrophic floods and today around 24,000 people are displaced in some way, hurt by the pain of the disaster. In reading through the Gospels I find Jesus did four main things to touch his hurting world, and as we’ve begun to incorporate these into reaching these flood victims, something divine seems to be taking place.

Firstly, he fed people. His very first miracle was to turn jars of water into 4000 glasses of wine, an act that has had theologians twitching ever since! We of course know that he also fed thousands of men, women and children on at least two occasions. The simple, divine act, of providing food for people was a part of Jesus methodology of evangelism.

When the floods first hit Hull, smashing through villages, towns and suburbs, we gave financial gifts to all the flood victims in our own church. One couple, not in immediate financial need, decided to buy a load of food and invite their whole street to a BBQ. “Our church wanted to cheer us up” were their words. Neighbours and friends crowded around and were fascinated saying “What kind of a church puts on a BBQ for flood victims?”. Since then literally hundreds upon hundreds of flood victims have been through our doors to enjoy good food, and along with it, the love of God. I’ve discovered even Terrible Evangelists can hand out hot dogs!

The second thing Jesus did was he healed people. Recently a camera crew were visiting our church from a nearby college, filming and studying the life of our church. Part way through my interview one of the crew mentioned she had a head ache and was due to see a doctor about it for scans of some sort.

I groaned inwardly, as I knew God wanted me to pray for her. I’ve seen loads of Christian head aches healed, but this girl didn’t know Jesus, and what’s more, cameras were rolling. Talk about pressure!

Eventually plucking up the courage I asked her if I could pray for her, which she accepted. The cameras had been put down by this point but I heard the words coming out of my mouth “Why don’t you roll cameras and get this on film”. My spirit man was up for an adventure, but my flesh man was crying out for the rapture!

Cameras rolling, I prayed, and the girl was healed. “That’s freaky” were her exact words of praise.

Most congregations and leaders engage in praying for healing to some degree in church, so is it really that hard to lay hands on the head of someone who doesn’t know God yet? I have personally seen that God is often more likely to turn up for the fascinated non-Christian, than for some cynical believers!

The third thing Jesus did was love people. Simple, selfless, love. At our church we’ve named 2008 “The Year of Loving Dangerously”. We might be Terrible Evangelists, but we can all love people. Over Christmas we handed out 600 luxury hampers to those stuck in caravans due to floods.  Tears flowed from heart broken flood victims, as they realised someone cared. We’ve since offered people free Pamper days and invites to free concerts and fun days; literally everything and anything we could think of to show people we loved them.

And it’s having an amazing affect. From being shunned by funding from the council, they are now ringing up to ask if we want more money! Care organisations are offering to bus people to the church. All because of the simple act of loving people. Surely any of us can do that?

The final thing Jesus did was to provoke people.

Most self-certified “Terrible Evangelists” like me find that squeezing the full Gospel into every conversation with non-believers so hard. We feel we haven’t shared the truth unless every interaction includes the “Jesus died for me, on a tree, at Calvary, to set me free” line somewhere.

But on reading the Gospels I discover Jesus didn’t do this at all! He knew people were being drawn by the Holy Spirit’s work in their heart, so was happy to play the side-role of divine provocateur.

Rather than deliver a self contained package of Gospel truth, Jesus seemed very happy to share confusing parables, leaving the hidden meanings to private discussions with his disciples. He basically said things like “I’m a loaf of bread, eat me”! He spoke of weddings, foxes, preservatives, vineyards, sheep, trees, farms, goats, virgins, lamps, streams and being born, all over again, a statement that had learned theologians wondering how it could be biologically possible!

Sometimes we feel every conversation has to include the full-Gospel message, or else we’ve failed. But relaxing into the roll of God’s provocateur has set me free! Pop in the “God healed me this Sunday” or simply “I’m off to church now” or even (my personal favourite) “Want to hear me speak in tongues?” and you’ll have that listener awake all night, questioning, seeking, wondering. And that’s where the Spirit moves upon a heart. Soon enough they’ll come back for more.

If we relax and start to feed people, heal them, love them and provoke them, lifting up the kindness and relevance of Jesus Christ, we may just find he will “draw all mankind to himself”. (John 12:32). Even the most Terrible Evangelists can do that, surely?

Comments

2 comments on “The Terrible Evangelist!”
  1. Louise Key says:

    Yes, true, I have found that I see God move more on the ones who don’t believe to introduce Himself to them so that they can begin a journey with Him. It shows His mercy is for the lost. He will reveal Himself!! The easiest way for me to evangelise is by asking if I can pray for someone for healing, however, I never want to water His word down and not warn them of what is to come but I do find I can love and laugh with these people and tell the truth even though some of them are as argumentative and agnostic as ever. I hurried across the road in Torquay before Christmas to help a man who looked like he was struggling in a wheelchair to get up the street. He said he was ok and I did assess that he was a very bitter, angry, man who was upset about any preaching or anything ‘religious’. My daughter and I stood in the rain for 45 minutes trying to persuade this man that Jesus is real and He will willingly forgive us of all wrongs if we come to Him and give ourselves to Him. He would say to my daughter ‘surely you’ve been brainwashed by your mother’ and she sweetly said, ‘I make up my own mind and I want to believe’ I told him that she would have to make up her own mind and seek God with all her heart and He would be found by her. He argued and argued and we just loved and laughed with him. It was amazing how much slipped out of him in conversation though, even the point that he had killed someone. He finally let us pray for osteoporosis which he was unwilling to tell us he had, yet I asked him outright if he had this, and he said ‘How did you know that??’ Anyway, I believe if we are walking right with the Lord then His Spirit just takes over. One day I was telling this man about the Lord and how he should turn away from seeing mediums and clairvoyants and turn back to God, Jesus as the way, the truth and the life ,as his father had been a methodist minister. He replied to me that ‘the bible contradicts itself’. Well I tried to think of an area and went to ask him whether it was the bit about ‘a little wine is good for the heart of man’ and then the getting drunk bit but the Lord God would not let me say it, instead the Holy Spirit took over my mouth and out came ‘Pornography’. I sort of started to laugh at why I said that, how weird I thought. He proceeded towards his house mumbling under his breath that he was going in to have a cup of tea. Still in awe, I entered my mother-in-laws house and got a bit of spiritual attack to upset me about having been preaching etc but I smiled to myself as I knew it was God. My brother-in-law came downstairs and asked me if I had been speaking to Mr Watts and proceeded to tell me that he was told that he had been in court the previous week for pornographic offences. Well, our merciful God was giving this dear old man a chance to repent as he died 6 months later. I really hope he turned from that sin and came back to Christ. All the more reason to give one person that amount of time a day so that the Holy Spirit can do His work and how he grieves for the lost and His children to be with Him forever. We cannot imagine how much He loves us and gives us all a chance.
    To be able to be in that position to put aside at least one hour or half an hour a day to speak to the one, would be achieving something for the Kingdom of God. Amen!!!

    1. Louise Key says:

      By the way Jarrod, you are NOT a terrible evangelist. The Holy Spirit just moves through your heart naturally when you have compassion, like I know you do. Your songs speak and minister to the lost also as they lift up the name of Jesus and affirm who He is and what He does. I am sure to be in that atmosphere is a germinating place for seeds of God’s love to lift up and be carried to receptive hearts or to land on the most hardened hearts tpo take root and soften them and grow. Don’t put yourself down. Well I know really that it is an area that we can all improve upon, so I know where ‘the terrible evangelist’ comes from. Just the willingness is enough, honestly as it touches the heart of God. Well I have been blessed this morning replying to some of your blogs as it has reminded me of how God’s heart is yearning for the lambs, His lambs to be home safe and under the care of His Shepherding, in His flock.

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