Something amazing happened on April 1. Foolish by some standards, it was no joke. Late afternoon this past Tuesday, members of our Evangelism Committee engaged in evangelism. And survived. They did it again Wednesday and plan on the same thing this afternoon and Saturday morning. Returning unwounded, they are reporting great joy and enthusiasm. Who would have thought? Presbyterian and evangelism are concepts that have not mixed well over the years.
LPC people know about the postcards we’ve made available on Sunday mornings. The cards have information about our Lenten and Easter worship schedules and were designed to be mailed or, better yet, given to family members and friends who might be open to joining us in worship during the Easter season. This is the third year we’ve made the cards available, and along with a similar campaign around Christmas, hundreds of cards have left the church building and, yes, friends and family members have shared the joy of Christmas and the amazing good news of Easter with us.
But this year the Evangelism Committee notched it up a bit. Armed with nothing more than a postcard, they took to the streets of Langhorne Borough. Mostly they left the cards at the doors of houses whose occupants were away being busy as most of the residents of Langhorne Borough and all about are. But they also talked – as in face to face conversation – with a few folks. They met some Catholics. Episcopalians and Methodists who wished them well but said they’d be worshiping with their own congregations on Palm Sunday and Easter.
But the field reports filed also mention talking with “a young mother looking for a church with programs for her son” and “three younger people who seemed interested in receiving the information.”
This brave band of evangelists have distributed eighty postcards and hope to hit 150 by noon tomorrow. If the atheists and secular humanists hold their fire, it looks as if this foray into enemy territory will have been a success.
Presbyterians don’t like this kind of low-tech, to the point evangelism. Maybe because we don’t want to be thought of as people think of Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses banging at the front door on a Saturday morning. More likely, we think it is impolite. After all, religion is a private matter. What makes it our business? It’s not our business, but it is God’s business. The God who loves the whole word including young parents and atheists and secular humanists has made us his business by coming to live with us and then to die for us that we might live with and for him now and for eternity.
“One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread,” is still a pretty good definition of evangelism.
Maybe we ought to have a ticker tape parade for those April fools heroes on our Evangelism Commitee and what they’ve done out there in enemy territory. Or maybe we ought to join them next time they go into the field.
Oh, and what should we do if that young mother or maybe even an atheist or a secular humanist shows up on Easter morning? Well, for one thing, we should invite them to come on up and sing the Hallelujah Chorus if they’d like. And we’ll have to tell them why we sing Hallelujah.
In the light of the self-acknowledged failure of the “seeker-sensitive” approach to evangelism and outreach (see here and here), there is a growing sense, especially among younger Christians, that we in the church must be absolutely and unapologetically clear about who we are and what we believe. As Drew Dyck, author of Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith . . .and How to Bring Them Back, says in a recent Christianity Today column, we may have to “deliver a jolt.” “Don’t get me wrong,” we writes, “We shouldn’t needlessly offend. We must be winsome and wise in how we communicate the Christian message. But at some point, like Jesus, we have to spell out what following him entails.”
So, we’ll tell them that we sing Hallelujah! not because the winter is over and daffodils are blooming but because Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
See You Sunday