Evangelism is More than Coffee and Donuts

08/17/2015
Chris Woodward
Reporter for One News Now

I have not done enough as an evangelist. Most of my Saturdays this year have not been spent going “Soul-Winning,” a.k.a: what my church calls outreach/visitation efforts every Saturday at 10:30 AM. We take a bus to a certain part of town, split into groups to knock on doors, invite people to church, and talk with them about the gospel of Jesus Christ, if they are open to a discussion. After returning home, I pray that people I encountered will take us up on our invitations or at least find a church to call home. I have to be honest and say that I rarely follow up with people who seemed as if they would come visit our church, but never showed up. At the same time, I could be doing a lot more beyond saying, “Hello, my name is Chris" to make visitors at church feel welcomed.

I came to this realization after an interview with Chelsen Vicari, Evangelical Program Director at Institute on Religion and Democracy. We were talking about evangelism and church membership when Vicari said, “Coffee and donuts before service is not evangelizing.” Vicari’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew I had been skipping out on Saturday visitation. Beyond that, I realized that I was not doing enough in getting to know church visitors, helping answer questions, and following up with them about salvation. My conversation with Vicari continued for several minutes after her coffee and donuts remark, but I kept going back to that in my head; it has stayed there since the interview.

Make no mistake, I do tell people about Jesus, including people I do not know. However, I often do it from the safety of my social media account, never seeing the faces of people I am trying to reach. I use Facebook and Twitter to spread the gospel, occasionally posting notes from my pastor’s sermons. On Wednesdays or Fridays, I might give directions to my church and include the Roman Road to Salvation. Even when I want make people laugh, and there is a time to laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:4), I try to include Scripture. I recently posted a picture of a dad struggling to fix his daughter’s hair along with the words of Philippians 4:13I have also been known to post pictures of some tasty barbecue (my favorite) with the words of Psalm 34:8. Good pictures get a person’s attention and throwing in Scripture with humor may help that person learn and recall Scripture. Regardless, I need to do more evangelizing.

What is evangelizing?

To evangelize is to convert or seek to convert someone to Christianity. Another definition says that to evangelize is “to preach the Christian gospel.” Why is that necessary? For starters, all men are sinners bound for hell unless they repent and ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:13). Moreover, we are told to go into the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). People visiting my church might be saved and looking for a church home. Then again, they may be just as lost as I was when a co-worker showed me I needed Jesus. The only way I would know this, though, is by visiting them and learning whether they have a relationship with Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Think about it this way: What if my co-worker was not as engaged as he was that day, if he did not get and keep my attention? My co-worker got my attention because he showed me he cared for me personally and felt invested in me. In order for me to get people’s attention, I have to be engaged in today’s culture, and in more than one way.

What then?

I am not saying I am thinking about jumping from pleasantries right into “Do you know Jesus?” That may be considered a little too direct by some people, especially if you are standing on their doorstep and you just interrupted their sleep. It could also be a little direct for a person just walking in the doorway of your church for the first time. Are you not put-off sometimes by a person that knocks on your door and interrupts you? It may not be proper behavior, but we have all been there a time or two. Were you not also a little squeamish the first time you visited your church? I’m still learning how to do evangelism. I guess the best approach for me is to make some small talk, find out where people are from, and maybe what they do for a living. I can then share my testimony and tell them what my church has meant for my family. Bottom line, I just need to get the ball rolling outside the confines of my social media accounts. I like coffee and I like donuts, but I need to engage and evangelize.