Recently someone asked me if I ever go fishing. My honest answer was “no.” It’s not that I don’t want to but I just don’t. It may be mostly an excuse for my laziness but the people I talk to who fish are really serious about it. They have the right boats, the right gear, the right clothing, etc. and I have none of that stuff. When I was a kid I went fishing a lot but all it took was a pole, line, hook, and some worms. We didn’t have boats; we just stood on the shore, fished, and had a blast!
Until fairly recently people would ask me if I ever did evangelism. I stumbled around with self-justifying answers, but the honest answer was “no.” It’s not that I didn’t want to but I just didn’t. It was mostly just an excuse for my laziness but the people I knew who did “real” evangelism were really serious about it. They had the right programs, the right training, the right strategies, etc. I actually did have some of that stuff but really wasn’t sure what to do with all of it. It became cumbersome, confusing, burdensome, and frustrating. Instead of motivating me it mostly produced guilt and more inaction.
Just like fishing, evangelism became far too complex for me to pursue. In the same way I longed for the simplicity of a pole, line, hook, and worm to go fishing, I longed for simplicity in evangelism. I didn’t need a new strategy or program, I just needed permission to stand on the shore and throw the line into the water.
If you ask me today if I do evangelism, my honest answer is “yes.” I’m no Billy Graham, I’m not standing on street corners with a bull horn, I’m not distributing tracts or flyers, and I’m not the featured speaker at a crusade. But I am engaging with a lot of new people, I am asking them questions, I am listening to them, I am just being their friend, and I’m actually having conversations about Jesus.
I needed permission to simplify my understanding and practice of evangelism. Perhaps you, too, need such permission. I’m a pastor. I’m giving you permission!! Get a pole, line, hook, worm, stand on the shore, and throw out in the water a little bit. Let me know when you catch something!