I was observing Sunday evening evangelism…
Man A: Are you a Christian?
Man B: Yes.
Man A: What church do you attend?
Man B names a popular pentecostal church.
Man A: I’d like to invite you to our church (another pentecostal). We just started the parish down the road.
- — -
This confounds me. Isn’t evangelism about recruiting non-Christians? Most evangelism just seems to me like recycling Christians from church to church.
The actual growth of Christianity (and religion in general) is through birth. And it’s the reason Islam is growing faster than Christianity. More children are being born into Islam than Christianity. That’s all it means when anyone brags that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world.
And you have to think about it: Plot a graph of the periods in history when religions have had spikes in growth that are not occasioned by birth rate, you will see that these periods have something in common: compulsion. Whether it’s Emperor Theodosius I making Christianity a state religion in 380, or Usman Dan Fodio’s conquest of Northern Nigeria for Islam or colonialism-backed missionary efforts in Southern Nigeria, people have had to choose between survival or ostracism (or even death).
And this is completely understandable for the survival of species. It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. The reason most of us are alive to even read this right now is because our ancestors chose to adapt to the ways of their conquerors.
The children of those who survived are well within their rights to think it’s free will that has made them continue in the footsteps of their ancestors. But that’s exactly what has fueled the growth: being born into the religion.
This isn’t surprising to me in the least. It’s difficult to convert anyone through words. Conversion is through watching the actions and behaviors of another and wanting to be like that person because they are just irresistible.
You know, you ask your neighbor, “You’re so calm and kind. You are the only one who helped me out when I was in distress. What is your secret? What makes you so different” And she goes, “It’s Jesus. I can invite you to my church if you want.” That must be what Matthew 5:16 meant when it says, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Yet the question is, are there any good behavior that is unique to the Christian? Is there any altruistic comportment that is peculiar to anyone you know as a Christ-follower?
I once asked someone who would not let my inbox rest, “What is your unique advantage (that you can prove to me)?”