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The Big Draw

On my way today I drove past a great sight.  A young boy (maybe 7) was pushing his even younger brother on a bicycle.  The little brother (maybe tops of 5) was not ready.  Mom was down the sidewalk cheering and older brother was not getting the obvious signs that this was not working.

Little brother had exactly zero feet on his pedals and almost one hand on the handlebars.  He was wobbling back and forth, front and back as older brother ran alongside and pushed him on the back.  This was not going to work.  I’m no psychic, but…I understand enough about gravity to know that the future was not bright for little brother.

Normally I try to be very respectful of the way others live out their faith…especially since I know how hard it is to do.  But seeing these brothers made me realize how strongly I feel about something, and that something is evangelism.  I do not consider myself an evangelist, and it does not register very high on any inventories I have taken.  That does not, however, mean that I (or anyone else who feels they are not gifted in evangelism) is excluded from the practice (perhaps I can say discipline) of evangelism.

Allow me to gently explain what evangelism looked like to me growing up.  I remember distinctly while visiting my father one summer the practice of evangelism.  We went to the church building on a Monday night and were handed a set of index cards.  I didn’t get to see the cards, but I knew what was on them: name, address, date of when they last visited the church, notes from previous visits.  We (my father and I) then proceeded to the home of a man in his twenties.  We were invited into the living room (I don’t know why I remember that the coffee table was a door on cinder blocks, but I do).  20 minutes later…after my father talked a lot and read a lot of Bible verses…the man prayed, my father hugged him, I shook his hand, and he showed us to the door.  We left there and went to the next index card.

I don’t remember what the conversation sounded like, and I don’t know why the man prayed.  I suppose it could have been a heartfelt prayer asking God to change his life.  It also could have been a way for him to get a word in edgewise or just to get us out the door, or make some kid stop staring at his coffee table door.  I don’t know.  But there is something I do know (or feel strongly about in any case): There is a certain degree of pushing that is helpful, and there is a degree of pushing that becomes harmful.

An older brother must find the right time and amount of force to use when guiding his younger brother in learning to ride a bike.  If he does not, he will only succeed in pushing his brother over where skinned knees and brokenness happen…usually accompanied by choice words that ought not be heard by mom.

I try very hard (and it is very hard work, believe it or not) not to define our church by what we are not.  It would be simple to invite people to worship with us by saying, “We’re not like this or that.”  But we don’t do that, and I won’t do it because in-so-doing you deligitimize an avenue that the Holy Spirit has and is using to draw people to Jesus.  Instead, we try always to use a positive bent, “We desire to be a people who…”

So, that is what I will do here, now.  We desire to be a people who walk alongside those whom the Holy Spirit has brought into our sphere of influence.  Guiding when invited, pushing when necessary, lifting them off the ground always, and asking them to do the same for us.  We point toward Jesus who said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all people unto myself.”

It’s not about pushing when someone isn’t ready.  It’s about people being drawn.  Notice “being drawn” is somewhat passive.  Hard to fall when it’s passive.  Easy to fall when you are pushed.  #givingpeopletime

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