Accidental Evangelism is Not Enough
by Major Gary
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
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
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,
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
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
“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.