There has been a lot written about the importance of friendship in evangelism but I wonder if it needs a bit of a re-think. Maybe it needs dumping as a concept altogether.
Friendship evangelism pretty much suggests that evangelism happens amongst those who are… you guessed it… my friends. When we think about ‘friends’ most of us have to admit that we don’t have too many of them, and if we are happy with the ones we’ve got we’re probably not likely to seek too many others. Such is life in our busy world.
However ‘friendship evangelism’ (as I have understood it) tells me that I must first be in an authentic relationship with a person before I venture to tell them about Christ.
How long does an ‘authentic’ friendship take?
‘Authenic’ means what?
And then there’s the question ‘are you only being a friend so you can tell them about Jesus?’
Is that authentic?… or not?…
And what if your friends don’t want to hear about Jesus? Is evangelism a non event for you?…
This is a concept fraught with difficulties
Perhaps a better way to look at it is that we are called to tell everyone about Jesus and some of them will finish up being our friends… and some won’t. We might not even like some people who we tell about Jesus. I think that’s ok. I don’t like everyone I meet. Not everyone likes me. (No its true)
By linking evangelism to authentic friendships I think we have painted ourselves into a stupidly tight corner. ‘If I don’t really know you I shouldn’t open this topic up’…
Or… maybe its a convenient corner, where ‘I can’t talk about Jesus because I don’t know the person and don’t have the right to go there’. For those who shy away from publicising their faith this is a nice card to play. It sounds very respectful when maybe its just fear driven.
I don’t want to pull the ‘this is biblical’ line, because some of scripture is definitely descriptive rather than prescriptive, but… I wonder how much friendship evangelism we could really see in scripture?!
The other problem with ‘friendship evangelism’ is that I then don’t ‘do evangelism’ among people who aren’t my friends, so the people I don’t like, or just don’t click with, will never get to hear about Jesus from me.
If you’re feeling nervous right now then ask yourself why?
Am I saying evangelism is event not process? Noooooo
Am I suggesting we preach on street corners? Noooooo
Am I saying we vomit a verbal gospel over everyone we meet? Nooooo
But download snow buddies movie gingerdead man 2 passion of the crust download maybe we need to toss this idea of friendship evangelism and just get on with living and sharing the gospel with the people we meet, and along the way a fewof those folks will become friends and a whole bunch of others won’t.
And… That’s ok.
Authentic friendship carries no agenda – including the desire to convert. Yet, being authentic as a follower of Christ will ultimately lead you to talk about Jesus. My struggle is now to do this in the “language of the people”. This is part of my reason to get out of my church, into the neighborhood & into cyberspace.
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