EVANGELISM. Has it become an expensive enterprise? Though we have new methods of creative evangelism, I wonder whether we have lost the art of using the simple habits that open the doors for evangelism.
Evangelism, in some churches, has not only become expensive but so impersonal! Christian groups and churches organise mega-evangelistic events – youth concerts, healing ministries, prophetic schools and other eye-catchers. These are costly undertakings as huge halls or even stadiums are hired and equipped with laser lightings and mega-sound systems as part of the props for mega-crusades. e hope is that these events will be a platform for congregation members of participating churches to bring their non-Christian friends to be evangelised. is seems to be the preferred model for evangelism today. Perhaps, this model of evangelism does help the churches to increase their membership but I believe that it also does have a negative aﬀect on the Church.
Have we lost the simple but personalised joy of evangelism that brought many of us to Christ? As a pastor, I recall hearing these testimonies: “I was reading my Bible as I travelled in the train to work. My colleague saw that and asked me about my faith in Christ. It was a golden opportunity to share the Gospel.” Another said, “I said grace before I ate my lunch at the same table with my colleagues and one of them asked if I was Christian. We discussed Christianity and I shared my faith in Christ.”
However, I find it very strange that today whenever an invitation is given to share testimonies, hardly anyone comes forward to say that he or she shared Christ with someone. Today’s sharing is about God’s miraculous healing or some dramatic event in which they saw the intervention of God or a prophetic word that was given for the future. I wonder whether many of these testimonies are the result of these “evangelistic meetings”.
Whatever has happened to the Christ-taught practice of lifestyle evangelism which looked for every window of opportunity to share the Gospel? Whatever has happened to the many testimonies which shared the joy of being able to be a witness for Christ through our simple actions? Has this impersonal world led us to shy away from living our faith in public with individuals? Are we ashamed to practise our faith when we are with our non-Christian friends? Are we as churches and individuals satisfied to give cold hard cash when we receive stacks of glossy and colourful promotional flyers from the organisers who solicit funds for the modern evangelistic events?
I believe that for individuals to be excited about and engaged in evangelism, we have to return to our practice, at fellowship and prayer meetings, where the sharing of personal testimonies of how God is moving in and through us to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ by our “simple lifestyles” is the norm.
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” – Romans 1:16.
The Rev James Nagulan is the President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference.
WHAT SPIRITUALITY MEANS TO ME
‘My lifelong journey with the Lord’
AS I REFLECT on “What Christian spirituality means to me”, the words from the chorus of “He Lives” come to my mind: “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way … ”
Christian spirituality, to me, is a lifelong journey of fellowshipping and following the Living Lord. It is a lifelong endeavour of growing in the knowledge of Him and His ways, and of walking in His will. The practice of spiritual disciplines is an essential feature in this journey.
Journalising is one of the spiritual disciplines that has been of great benefit to me. It is an important component of my personal time with God. I journalise my reflections on the day’s reading of His Word, my prayers and what I sense as His response to my prayers. I recall the previous day’s activities and encounters with others, and journalise the evaluation of my response. In addition, I journalise my joy and my sorrow, my faith and my doubt, my triumph and my struggle.
Over time, journalising enables me to perceive God’s dealings with me and to learn to recognise His voice better. rough journalising, I come to see His hand of mercy and grace in my life, and I become more aware of the areas of my life that I need to surrender to Him. is pushes me to yield myself to His transforming power.
Every December, I will set aside time to go through the year’s journal. As I read through the pages of my journal, I would always be overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude to God for His faithfulness, goodness and grace to me. I would then surrender myself afresh to God, especially in those areas that I need His refining touch. at would also be the time for me to seek God for His purpose for me and for the direction of my ministry in the coming year. I began my journalising in 1977, the year I entered Trinity Theological College, when the Youth Fellowship presented me with a journal as a farewell gift. Initially, I was not very consistent in making the entry. Over the years, journalising has become very much a part of my Christian spirituality. It puts on record my journey of fellowshipping and following the Lord.
As I began by quoting the chorus of “He Lives”, I would like to end with another chorus – the chorus of “In the Garden” which expresses well the intimacy and joy of this lifelong journey:“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”