- Last Updated on 07:07 AM 08/30/13
- BY DR. RUSSELL LEE
This fall we join with many other churches in prompting our folks to reach out to others in the name of Jesus Christ. We are in the process of inviting people inside and outside the church, and doing all we can to move them out of their comfort zone so that Jesus’ call to reach out becomes an actuality.
But if your church is like ours, and most churches in America, many are just too comfortable in their Christianity. We would rather just come to church, hear the preacher preach and enjoy the blessings ourselves. Inviting others? Not so much.
In fact, some people are downright frightened by the word “evangelism.” I had a church once where the members were perfectly comfortable serving on the outreach committee because it reached out without having to talk to people. When we changed the name to evangelism, two members promptly resigned. One said, “People know where the church is. If they want to come, they will come.”
But God continues to work despite our shortsightedness. It’s a little like the mom who did not want a kitten for her daughter but made a promise she ended up having to keep.
A kitten had climbed to the top of a tall slender tree in a pastor’s back yard and was afraid to come down. The pastor coaxed, offered warm milk, etc. The kitty would not come down.
The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor tied a rope to his car and pulled it down so he could reach it. But at critical point the rope broke, and the kitten sailed out of sight.
The pastor felt terrible, searched for the animal but to no avail. He prayed, “Lord I commit this kitten to your keeping.”
A few days later he was at the grocery store and met one of his church members, a cat hater, who was buying cat food. He asked her, “Why are you buying cat food when you hate cats so much?”
She replied, “You won’t believe this,” and told him how her little girl had been begging her for a cat, but she kept refusing. Then a few days before, the child had begged again, so the Mom finally told her little girl, “Well if God gives you a cat, I’ll let you keep it!”
She told the pastor, “I watched my child go out in the yard, get on her knees and ask God for a cat. And really, Pastor, you won’t believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes.
A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky, with its paws outspread and landed right in front of her!”
So, when I heard a friend tell this story this past week, I thought, evangelism. Even though we want to be a good Christian and reach out, hesitate, for we think we have to do it on our own.
But God’s plans are (sometimes literally) higher than our own. The pastor prayed. The daughter hoped. The mother promised. God delivered.
You might ask, did God really have anything to do with that kitten flying through the air and landing in that little girl’s yard. I think so. Just as much as he wants us to trust that his plans are much bigger than ours.
God, you see, has millions of people in mind to be a part of his kingdom. They need to go to church. Many even want to come to church. But they don’t know how to get there.
Research shows that 80 percent of the people who come to church do so because they were invited. So getting past that artificial barrier we put up is critical for the salvation of souls.
It’s such a simple thing, this evangelism. We drop a card in the mail. We make a telephone call. We have a conversation about faith. We do the inviting. God does the prompting.
In a theology class in seminary I, along with other young men and women training for ministry, heard the professor ask, “How does God most often speak to the world.”
We had all kinds of wonderful answers. The Bible. The Holy Spirit. Direct revelation.
But I still remember his answer. “People.” When we look through the Bible, we see that God chooses to speak through his people most often.
Jesus said to his disciples, and to us as well, “Follow me , and I will make you fishers of men.” We don’t often mind the following part.
The fishing part? Not so much.
Perhaps we could visualize a fishing line coming from miles away and dropping down into the very situation we thought would never happen, and God intervenes at that very moment. We find ourselves doing kitten evangelism. We never thought it would happen, but it did.
Yes, having faith is fine. But, and I am pretty sure God will back me up on this, sharing faith is better.
Look up. Is that a kitten dropping out of the sky?