They say it is all in the method. Evangelism is a programmable process that once set in motion will lead to a formulaic question and answer time setting up a further confrontation of wills. The presenter hanging nervously on the edge of their sweaty seats, the hearer wrestling with an answer they already hear in the back of their heads before they ever let you in on it: yes or no. Like a dutiful heart pumping, the method is supposed to always do its job, be ever reliable, and above all be completely timeless – if only making disciples behaved anything like legitimate business.
Most people work in the world of the safe transaction. They coordinate predictable schedules and meetings with a cast of predictable characters in their lives. They are assured of most outcomes before they ever meet in person. They carefully craft their interactions to lower their stress levels and cut out any people who consistently violate their sanctuary of tranquility. Their life and work is their own to engineer and re-engineer if the need should arise.
There is something unsettling about standing on unsure ground seeking an answer that will instantly gratify, encourage, glorify, and ultimately usher someone from stranger to sibling in a single moment or tip the other direction in the same blink of an eye. But it is out of these moments of great defeat that we are reminded of true success and perseverance. God has called us to leave the flat ground and climb the mountain. It will be hard, but we will learn. It will be painful, but we will grow. We will be rejected, but people will be changed - not because of our suave answers nor even because of our great efforts, but instead because of our humility of purpose and the purity of the message of hope.
Our efforts and our very perseverance should serve at the will of our already present motivation and may behave as a tool to signify our sincerity as we speak the Gospel. But our perseverance on its own will only gain political followers for ourselves, and political followers are unreliable and opportunistic. True evangelism is a response to God’s love for us and our adoption into His family. So, be encouraged. God is not looking for secure transactions. He is not worried about your statistics. He is hoping to inspire you to action not by preaching at you to act, but rather by teaching you to reflect. Reflect on the love of God and find your motivation to respond. There is neither hill too great nor any person too negative to be given a chance to encounter the message of Jesus, but there are far too many of us worried about security. Look people in the eyes. Be authentic and honest. Shake hands regardless of the response, because you never know what may happen later. Sharing Christ may make you feel like a smuggler on this earth, but in the end, it is truly the only legitimate business to be in.