Ever wonder why evangelism gives you the creeps? If it doesn’t, don’t worry about reading the rest of this post.
A few days ago I wrote about where the story of the Gospel really starts, which is an important question. But for most of the kinds of people that populate our community, the mere mention of the word “evangelism” evokes nausea. It’s not because they don’t want to share their faith with others, and it’s not because they don’t think it’s important. It’s because they know it’s important, but they can’t shake the image of it that’s been burned into their minds by the way it’s been done in America for the past few decades.
Jason Coker diagnosed the problem very perceptively in a post from this past summer called “Unbecoming Buzz Agents For Christ.” He says the way evangelism has been done is essentially the same way as deceptive “word-of-mouth” advertising campaigns that attempt to start conversations around products for sale. “Buzz agents” are those who appear to be normal people looking to start conversations, but who are actually “under-cover” salespeople trying to steer conversations toward the product.
Isn’t this how many of us have heard evangelism is supposed to be done? Steering a conversation toward this product called “Jesus?” We’ve got the greatest product the world has ever seen, the pitch goes, so let’s “sell” it!
The problem, however, is that such conversations, like the ones initiated by “buzz agents,” aren’t authentic. At their core they are lies: a sales pitch masquerading as a conversation. As Jason’s post says, perhaps the first step in learning what evangelism should actually look like is first repenting of being “buzz agents” for Jesus.
Yep, been there. Totally understand your article here. And in evangelism has been the buzz agent and the other end of the pendulum, too.
Great post, and a fresh look at how Jesus sent out his disciples is well worth a revisit.
Jason Coker says
Wait…which TV preacher is that a picture of???
Thanks for the link man!
Ben Sternke says
Pam and Jason, thanks for the comments! I’m not sure which preacher that guy is 😉
yyyup. We can be normal people, expect when we’re talking about the most important thing in the world. And then we don’t want to do it and feel guilty about that. Great.
I haven’t really gotten the sense so much that people were selling something, a lot of times I’ve seen people say things, it seemed, as sort of a weird conscience-clearing exercise, like they were just saying it because if they didn’t they’d feel guilty. Which alwasy comes off as SO genuine.
James Paul says
Ben – Thanks for this helpful post. Great links.