How Evangelicals Produced Bad Evangelism

Evangelicals have severely damaged Christian evangelism

Christianity began as a grassroots movement, and in many ways, it still is. Word of mouth is the best way to spread the news about anything. The faith of Christ followers is no exception.

In fact, some of the last words Jesus ever said while He was on earth started with, “Go.”  He told His disciples to “make [other] disciples”, and to “preach the gospel.” Literally, that means, preach the good news. Jesus is good news. Sharing the good news with other people is what is commonly referred to as “evangelism.”

The problem is that so many Evangelical programs for evangelism are not sharing any good news. They literally scare the hell out of people. So much of evangelism in Evangelical circles is about scaring people into getting “saved.”

Turning the good news into a formula

Evangelism stopped being relational. It was no longer focused on developing relationships but on memorizing scripts.

There are different formulas used. One I learned was called “The Romans Road.” This formula used several verses from the book of Romans to show people they would go to hell unless they prayed a special prayer. This formula insinuated that the other 65 books of the Bible were not relevant to getting saved.

Another one is the “ABC” model: Admit (you are a sinner) Believe (Jesus died for your sin) and Confess (that Jesus is Lord). This model makes believing in Jesus as simple as…”ABC.”

Evangelism became focused on decisions instead of disciples

These methods of evangelism are measured by the number of people who “pray a prayer” or “make a decision.” This is nothing more than applying business principles to the important work of telling people about Jesus.

They turned evangelism into “selling fire insurance”

Most people will at least pretend to come to Jesus in order to avoid the possibility of hell. They don’t even have to believe that there is a hell. Just the possibility of hell necessitates a decision to get saved for most reasonable people.

This type of evangelism is based on fear, and anything based on fear is not the way of Jesus. Scaring people into following Jesus is a scam. Staying out of hell should not be the motivation for following Jesus.

They made evangelism annoying

Evangelicals became evangelistic jerks. They turned evangelism into an eye-rolling sideshow. They became aggressive and confrontational instead of loving. They put down their compassion and picked up a bullhorn. They stopped talking and started shouting.

Jesus’ form of evangelism was spending time with people, where they were and showing them unconditional love.

There can be no doubt that the best method of evangelism is the one that Jesus used.

About Matthew Thisse

Matthew Thisse is a Jesus follower, single father, associate pastor, and corporate trainer. He is a former Evangelical and a failed fundamentalist.

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