Are Christians that you know doing a lot of personal evangelism, handing out tracts, and inviting people to a “revival meeting”? No? Why not? Why have churches stopped doing hard-sell evangelism? I believe it is because they know it is not effective. Why is confrontational evangelism not effective in the United States? It is because Americans are biblically illiterate. I also believe many have entered the spiritual realm of the biblical Pharisees. It is already too late for some of them. Jesus revealed that the Pharisees were children of Hell and that they turned their followers into children of Hell, (Matthew 23:15). Like Esau, they lost salvation:
16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
People of the past were taught the Bible. They were taught to respect Jesus and the Church. They had been taught the basics in school and home. When people know the basics, you can urge them to decide. But when people are biblically illiterate and distracted, traditional methods are ineffective at best. In a time of upheaval and disruption of routine, like now during COVAD, people become more open to change. What better time to introduce them to Jesus Christ and the Good News about eternal salvation? There must be wisdom in how to approach this opportunity to share about Jesus. Relationship-building and a tailored-approach to engaging people take intentionality and relearning new skills. One fitting technique is the way Jesus did it. He never handled persons the same way. Even though Jesus was in a biblically literate society, Israel had wandered away from the Truth, just like the United States. The Scribes and Pharisees had twisted the Holy Scripture. Therefore, Jesus tested the peoples’ level of openness to God. He did not hit them over the head with a sales pitch unless that was what the situation needed. He engaged them in conversation. Very often He did not answer their questions or simply do what they asked. He often asked them a question in return. This question was designed to test sincerity, knowledge, as well as to reset the direction of their thinking about Salvation. Questions are powerful. It is almost impossible not to answer a question. Becoming a skilled questioner will help us move a person to think about spiritual things. It will aid us in assessing where the person is on their journey to God. Learning to read a situation and the disposition of the person needing to hear the Good News is crucial for being on mission in the United States.