I was thinking of some of the ways I see people, especially evangelists, interact with people during times of evangelism. One trait I have noticed frequently is one of talking down to, or talking in a way that is condescending. I have seen this done by parents when disciplining their children (and have been guilty of doing so myself, sadly). The thinking goes something like this: 'If I am nice and loving to my child who has just disobeyed, then they will think that their activity is ok. It is like condoning sin.'. I have done that and been there, so I know why parents do that. You want to make sure your child wants to repent and not repeat the evil activity! This is natural and understandable thinking, but it doesn't work. It doesn't work in evangelism either.
Put yourself in the recipient's place. If you were walking down the street, would you listen to someone yelling at you to repent? Would that cause you to want to get down on your knees and repent? Would you even know what it means to repent? Would you trust the person who is telling you to repent enough to stay and listen to the rest of what he has to say?*
Two reasons come to my mind when it comes to the motive behind preaching or sharing the Gospel message. The first is humility. If we are humble, we welcome other people into our lives. The other is love. God is love. God made people who rebelled against Him and are in darkness now, and He sent His Son to redeem them. He loves people and pursues them. He wants people to be cleansed from sin, but He also wants people to be free from the snares of sin and the Evil One.
My concern is that I sense people doing evangelism do not tend to give the proper credit to God for working in the lost person's heart. Much like the parent who wants to get the point across that he or she is angry at the child for disobeying, and showing it by anger, humiliation, and yelling, which we think makes our message more powerful, we are really distancing ourselves from the child or the lost person.
God is the One who works in their hearts. Even if we give a faulty presentation of the Gospel message, God will take the words of truth and will use them to minister to the lost person's heart.
Finally, one more thing that is effective in evangelism or ministry. We actually do read about Jesus weeping for things. It is easy to overlook those things as insignificant, but, we can learn from them and embrace them too. We can weep for the lost person. The Gospel is not a bed of roses for the lost person. He or she needs to know what God's heart is for their souls. I remember reading something written by one of my favorite pastors, C.J. Mahaney and his trip to Starbucks one morning. He was standing in a long line of people who were ordering coffee. There were the usual complaints from people who live in America today and have to wait for any period of time. As he was waiting in line to order his coffee, he was thinking of the Gospel and how precious it was to him. He was thinking about how unworthy he was to be a recipient of the Gospel and how God had been so merciful to him. He was crying. Someone asked him why he was crying and he explained the reason. That should be our response to the Gospel. Instead though, we act like we own the Gospel and can do with it whatever we want. We really should be grateful for God's mercy to us and want others to experience this as well.
Do we cry for lost people? Do we really love them like we should?
*Note: I am not saying that we should not be telling people to repent. It's just the way it is done that is the key. Is it done with love and humility, or is it done with our nose in the air?