Evangelism. A Negative Experience.

In interviews about our new book, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations, I’ve been asked if the way that Christians share their faith needs to change. So I tell about a conversation I had in a Q Place when the subject of evangelism came up.

The participants, who did not yet claim to be followers of Jesus, said they thought evangelism was a negative experience for most people like them. Even the Christians in the room had a negative opinion about evangelism. While the group members that day probably didn’t agree on much about God and the Bible, they all agreed that they didn’t like evangelism as they knew it.

How did our way of spreading the good news about Jesus somehow get to be bad news for many? I think when we forget that the motive for sharing our faith is love, we can unintentionally let our witness be done in our own strength—with human effort, heartless transactions, and an agenda—rather than through the leading of God’s Spirit. Do we need to change? Yes!!!  And Jesus is our model!

The nine arts described in the book are reflected in Scripture, as Jesus, rooted in God’s love, interacted with people. The Apostle Paul reminds us that when we follow Jesus, we get a new wardrobe:  “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (Col. 3:12-14, The Message).

It is no accident that the first four arts (noticing, praying, listening, asking questions) and the last four arts (welcoming, facilitating, serving together, sharing), all converge at one central point—the art of loving. It’s one thing to write about this, talk about this, or know this. It’s yet another to live it out each minute of every day. Pray that God will love people through us as we practice the nine arts, spreading the news of God’s incredible love in a way that is always good news.

Mary Schaller
President, Q Place