Guilt-Tripping Evangelists

Posted on March 9, 2016

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I love street evangelism, but we street evangelists seem to be prone to look down on other believers for not engaging in that kind of ministry. It’s as if street evangelism, for some, is the only way to do evangelism, and if one isn’t doing street evangelism, one’s salvation is questioned. While methodology is not the subject of this post, I would like to briefly address the recurring attitudes I observe on social media regarding a perceived lack of intentional evangelism.

Can any reader demonstrate from Scripture where the apostles or church leaders guilt-tripped Christians into ministry, particularly evangelism? It seems the pattern of exhortation in the New Testament is to shepherd weaker or less mature believers, and to provide an example for them as to what faithful ministry looks like (1 Tim 4:12, 1 Thess 2:10-12, Titus 2:6-8). That’s Discipleship 101.

As one who has made similar errors, even relatively recently, I just don’t think it’s helpful to condemn other believers for a perceived lack of evangelism (or a lack of one’s own method of evangelism), or guilt-trip them into joining one on the streets. It not only comes across dripping with pride, as if one is saying, “hey, look at me…why don’t you do evangelism like I do,” but I seriously doubt anyone has been successful in encouraging laborers for the harvest by using this manipulative tactic.

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Instead, we need to consider how we can exhort/encourage/pastor other believers into being more intentional in their evangelism (which may not include street evangelism at all), and set the example for them to follow (in whatever method they choose and God appoints to proclaim Christ and the Gospel). Then, let’s be patient to see how the Holy Spirit sanctifies His people and gives them the courage to be a more faithful ambassador for Jesus Christ.

Trust me, I get the frustration when there are not as many believers as one would like hitting the streets or abortion mill sidewalks, but a pessimistic attitude is just not edifying (Eph 4:29), and it’s surely ineffective. Praying for our brethren, encouraging them, teaching them, and being an example for them will go a lot further, because that’s how God has designed we love and disciple our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let’s see how we can be more faithful in coming alongside fellow believers to disciple them in the faith, and seek to avoid the spiritual tongue lashing that may result in a facebook “unfollow” instead. Because, if they unfollow us on facebook (because of our lack of grace, or our annoying behavior), they’re probably not interested in rubbing elbows with us in our local church, and we, most likely, have only ourselves to blame. We may have scored more “likes” with our clever, guilt-tripping statuses, but we may be left with one less brother or sister to actually disciple in the “real world.”

For a pastoral resource to strengthen your faith in evangelism, check out Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully by John MacArthur and the Pastors and Missionaries of Grace Community Church.