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Accidental Evangelism is Not Enough
by Major Gary Grant

A long time ago, when I was around 18 years of age, playing in the Perth Fortress Band in Western Australia, I used to drive my car to the city and often pass this old Christian gentleman who used to stand on the side of a busy road in Perth city holding a sign that said, “Repent now, or Wrath soon.”

It often caused me to be curious, and at times, I confess, quite cynical of this old timer, who seemed to be there every weekend. (I wonder how many people came to faith as a result of that warning sign?)

Anyway, one day, I decided to stop and give him 2 tickets to a band concert that our band was putting on, thinking it would encourage him, and in my innocent and fairly na´ve and ignorant mind back then, thinking it might actually save him (pretty na´ve hey?).

Gone are the days, in Australia at least, where it was easy to march a band down the main streets of our City, as a march of witness.  These days a permit is required, and maybe a police escort. And at the very best those who observe us, would see us now as a quaint attraction, and be amused and entertained possibly. But hardly saved for Jesus as a result of this time honoured tradition of The Salvation Army.

To stand on the corners and proclaim the gospel is also not an easy thing to do with so much legality around just even trying to do that now.

For me the best form of evangelism is still personal relationship where people are connected in a personal manner, where life is shared together, and there is time for questions and answers. Where an opportunity, for example, is given for a person to ask, “Why are you so different?”

When I think back over my life as a Salvo, and not to criticize anyone else, I always thought that our accidental evangelism would be enough. That by playing in a big brass band that demanded attention when it marched down the streets, that people would naturally flock to Jesus and be saved. After all, I had been.

Over the years I have discovered though, that accidental evangelism (what I call it when we are not intentional) is simply not enough.

People are seeking authenticity….something real, something more personal. A life that matches the speak, something worth investigating… maybe even worth trying church to see what the fuss is all about.

If The Salvation Army is ever to gain the attention of the public and further the cause of Christ on the planet then we need to grasp every opportunity granted to us, whether it be, our emergency relief programs, or social work, or collecting money to do these works…whether it be our bands and songsters and timbrel brigades, or youth programs…whatever it is, we must match the work with our faith speak, and speak it out in boldness for Christ in a personal and relational way.

We must not be afraid to take the risks of getting up close and personal with a pre-saved person.

We must not hide behind these programs or strategies, but rather see them as tools for the work we do, and the greatest work we do is to be The SALVATION Army… the getting people saved Army.

I wonder whether it is still easier to invite someone to a concert in the hope that someone might preach the Word at this concert and our friends find Jesus?

Or I wonder whether it isn’t easier for us to hand out a food voucher and think we are helping, when really what is needed is a food voucher and Jesus? What would it look like if every time we handed out our social work or assistance, if it came with a prayer attached and shared? No exceptions. Taking the moment, whilst we have it, to just ask if we could pray for this person and “love on them with the love of Jesus.”

It seems a lot harder for us to broach the subject about Jesus intentionally, one on one, yet it might be the only way a person actually finds Jesus and is saved.

When we take the time to get involved with others, share our life with them, share a meal and to invest into their life …. When we are unafraid to speak of our faith and our own personal relationship with Jesus and allow a natural conversation to flow from that, that’s when we might actually be doing what Christ intended for us to do, when He said…

“Hey…go out there into that community in which you live and work, teach people about me, by sharing what you already have, get them immersed in my dream for them, tell them about me and how I changed your life….and how I can change theirs as well”  (My Matthew 28 paraphrase).

And then it will all click into gear as the questions start to flow…

Get yourself ready for some long nights and outrageous times as your friends trust Jesus for the very first time. There isn’t anything better in this world, than when an unsaved person finds Jesus for the very first time.

You seriously want to be involved in that!!! Yeah, take them to the concerts, sure…but don’t wimp out on the one-on-one conversations in the process.

The only way you can be…. Is to get involved, on the coal face, take some risks and be intentional in your relationships for Jesus sake.

Accidental evangelism is not enough.









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