Evangelism For The Rest of Us
I have long admired those who seem to find sharing their faith to be a simple, shameless task. I am ashamed to admit that I sometimes, and perhaps even most of the time, find it difficult and would even rather do anything but. I am not alone. Like many others, I have been taught different methods of evangelism and have found that they do little to make me more confident in sharing my faith. But Mike Bechtle has written a book that will make it easier for me. Evangelism for the Rest of Us seeks to show the reader how he can overcome the fear of evangelizing and to provide wisdom on how he can share his faith in a way that is consistent with his strengths and his personality. “The purpose [of this book] is to provide a new way of thinking that could put people who don’t witness back on the front lines. They’ll be using methods that are uniquely suited to their personality style as they encounter the people God brings into their path.”
Lying at the foundation of this book is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. While I was less than enthusiastic about the Jungian undertones represented by this terminology, and by passing references to Katherine Briggs and Stephen Covey, I understand that Bechtle is pointing to a greater truth: there are some people who are outgoing and others who are not. There are some people for whom evangelism is much more difficult than others. “God designed us with a specific purpose in mind. The reason? So we could do what he wants us to do, in the unique way that nobody else could do it. Why should we try to do it differently? … When introverts spend time trying to funtion like extroverts, they’re doing more than just wasting time. They’re actually robbing themselves of the very tools God gave them to do his work.” The author points to an important truth: most programs designed to teach evangelism assume that a person is outgoing and confident in situations such as door-to-door evangelism and proclaiming the gospel to complete strangers in a public setting.
But, says Bechtle, “I’ve found that when I try to share my faith in unnatural ways, my fear gets larger and tends to stop me from sharing. That kind of fear almost always signals that I’m sharing out of guilt instead of compassion. But when I share in ways that fit with God’s design for me, a creative tension compels me to look for new ways to move forward. Compassion drives me to look for unique, appropriate ways to make a spiritual connection.”
Bechtle teaches that, contrary to what many Evangelicals have taught, more often than not evangelism is a process rather than an event. The job of the Christian is not necessarily to procure a decision, but to be a faithful witness and to move a person forward to “the next level of belief.” An opportunity to witness that does not end with a prayer for forgiveness is not necessarily a failure. He also says, correctly, that our job is not to force people to force people to believe in God, but to introduce our close friends to each other. “We lead people to Christ or introduce them to the Savior. We make the introduction, then act as a sounding board as they discuss their feelings about their initial encounter with God.” As Bechtle points out, this is a freeing concept for people who have never considered this before.
While there were aspects of Evangelism for the Rest of Us that were less than stellar, primarily those that seemed to be more psychological or motivational than uniquely Christian, most of Bechtle’s points were helpful and well-taken. Those of us who have quiet personalities should not feel compelled to evangelize in the same way as those who are more outgoing. While we have the same responsibility to share the gospel with those God brings into our lives, we can do it in a way that suits our personalities and is consistent with the way God created us.