Listening to Mike McQuitty preach from Acts over the weekend was refreshing. One of the insights which hit home was shared during the fourth and final session. The speaker urged us to schedule in evangelism, to make it a healthy habit in our busy lives. If not, it will fall by the wayside.
Initially I thought McQuitty was contradicting himself since he had been sharing about the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life. Spiritual discipline, according to the speaker, includes depending on the Spirit to open the hearts and minds of people seeking Christ. Why schedule in evangelism then?
Yes, we must depend on the Spirit to lead us towards seekers. Missionaries call these encounters "divine appointments." We cannot use the Spirit, however, as an excuse not to share. Instead we should be creating opportunities for the Spirit to move in our evangelistic obedience.
We are an extremely busy people. Parents are constantly shuttling their children from one thing to another. Pastors and deacons are always in and out of appointments, hospital visits, etc. while also preparing for Sunday. It seems like the only time of the day when we are not overwhelmed is when we sleep.
What is more alarming is all the beeps, dings, vibrations, whistles, chirps and endless notifications pervading our digitally connected lives. Universities are already reporting on the decline of social skills of incoming freshmen. Even some restaurants are offering discounts for turning your smartphones off.
I believe this is the reality which McQuitty was describing on Sunday evening.
If we do not purposefully carve out the time and space in our hectic and noise-filled lives to witness (coupled with the false notion that the Spirit will simply tell us when), we will never tell others about Jesus. And we will miss out on experiencing the Spirit at work in amazing ways.
In an April 25 post by Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Seminary, he opened up about missing some things about how church used to be done.
"One of the biggest changes has been the loss of evangelistic focus in many SBC churches. The most visible evidence of this is the decline of baptisms over the past decade to record low numbers. Another change has contributed to this number - the neglect of personal witness training and the abandonment of the conviction every Christian must be equipped to fulfill their responsibility to share their faith."
"These days, it’s hard to find churches with any type of continuing, consistent training program for personal evangelism. Admonishing members to 'live their faith' or 'invite a friend to church' are about the extent of the challenge..." Iorg continued.
My challenge for myself, and my challenge for you is that we will follow through with this particular lesson. Schedule in twenty minutes this week to tell someone about Jesus. Encourage others to do the same or to pray intentionally for you. And also ask them to hold you accountable.
Together, as a church, we can spark spiritual renewal but it begins with healthy habits.