One of the things that I am really against is cold turkey evangelism. I’ve done enough times to know that I don’t like it. Of course the argument for it is that you do it with the trust that God will somehow use it for his purposes. I agree with that, and when I do evangelize I am taking that to heart.
My problem is that it is simply a bad way to evangelize. It is wrought of love. Now of course I know that even taking the time to tell them about the Lordship of Christ is loving for me to do, but honestly how loved do they feel? If all I do is come up and share the gospel with them and then leave them at that what love would they feel? Would they feel loved that I took the time to come up to them to talk to them about Jesus? Maybe… if they were already Christian, but if they don’t know Christ yet then what? If it’s without some sort of continuing relationship what love is really given?
Loving should go hand in hand with suffering, and there is no suffering in cold turkey evangelism, there is persecution, but not the long suffering that Christ experienced. He spent 3 years with his disciples only to die without them “getting it” until he rose. That’s suffering, that expending yourself and not seeing any fruit. This is the sort of suffering that relational evangelism brings, not cold turkey. We should expect, and desire, to spend time with people, watch them sin, and never get it. We should expect them to deny Christ, turn away, make grandiose statements about his divinity and then in the next second be against Christ’s work. That suffering is much worse than merely being spat upon, that suffering breaks hearts.
I’d be willing to say that that is the model of evangelism that is set up for us. The gospel isn’t about getting people to convert, it’s about the Lordship of Christ enabling us to truly love and serve God, and, if we are doing that faithfully, conversion will happen whether we want it to or not. Just going out and throwing out the Word randomly is bad stewardship to. A farmer sure as heck doesn’t just randomly scatter seed, he does it with purpose and intent, some may fall on the path, but he is sowing seed in the field where he will be sure to tend to it.
We do have to proclaim it, but it’s different proclaiming a Messiah to people who are looking for one than to people who think they are their own Messiah. And if we are to proclaim it, it should be in the community that we live amongst, that we will be around daily or weekly, not to random people on the beach or a street that we probably will never see again.