Outreach Vs Evangelism
I was reading a great article in Outreach magazine. It was talking about how people use the words outreach and evangelism interchangeably. On this podcast I’ve been asking for your ideas on what you do to evangelize. Looking back, what I’ve been doing is asking for your outreach ideas.
Outreach is the Wii bowling league. Evangelism is not the prayer you do before you get started. It’s not the “movie night” you host at your church, or the regular Bible study on Wednesday night. Those actions are outreach. They are vehicles for you to bring people into your church (or other location) so they can meet you, and get to know you. You can start to build relationships through outreach. But outreach is not enough. You can feel good about paying for the person’s meal behind you in the drive through, but it’s not evangelism. It is a way to find something in common with people, and gently lead them to Christ.
Some define evangelism as “Joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign love of God, and calling people to repentance, to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to active membership in the church, and to obedient service in the world.”
Outreach is a vital part of evangelism. We need to develop friends who are unchurched. We need to let them see that Christians are not as whacky as we are depicted on television. Outreach is a great tool for this, and it lays the groundwork for evangelism.
Without outreach, evangelism is like going up to a stranger and asking for their hand in marriage (before asking them on a date). It catches people off guard. It’s abrupt and assertive. On the other hand if you found someone you really like, you get along great, and you date for five years all of your friends will start to bug you and ask, “When are you going to get married (commitment)?. We worry about “forcing our beliefs” on someone, and end up doing outreach, outreach, outreach. It’s time to pop the question, “So what is your relationship with Jesus like?,” or “How do you feel about God?”
It’s tough pointing out to people that they are sinners and in need forgiveness. It might make them feel bad, and Satan will convince us to sit back and lay low. There is a difference between outreach and evangelism, and in the same way it makes no since to plant a garden and not harvest it, it makes no sense to perform outreach without evangelism.