This post is part of a series of discussions about Craig Groeschel’s book, “The Christian Atheist.” We invite everyone to read the post and share your opinions whether you’ve read the book, or not. If you’ve written a post about this chapter, you can link it up below just following today’s discussion. I encourage you to read all of the linked posts as they are always pretty incredible and will give you much greater insight into the topic at hand.
I’d like to thank my wonderful co-facilitator, Jason, for discussing without me while I was gone. I know he did an awesome job! In fact, I’ve read back through the posts and comments that I missed and you all had some great thoughts. You go, guys! But now that I’m home, I’m ready to jump into the book with you again.
So, let’s dig into Chapter 11, shall we?
When I was first getting to know Christ, I began attending a very outreach-oriented church. Each week, we had evangelism classes to teach us how to win people to Christ. Every Monday night, we prayer-walked the neighborhoods around the church and one weekend a month, we had block parties where we invited the neighborhood folks to come and enjoy themselves. And while all of these were lovely ideas, there was a problem. We never really took the time to build relationships with the people.
As a baby Christian, I didn’t understand the problem. To me, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. The Bible said to evangelize and doggone it, I was pouring myself into evangelizing. I had taken all of the classes and attended all of the prayer walks and the block parties. I was doing all of the right things. But I noticed that there was very little fruit from all of my/our effort.
Eventually, I left that church, and it wasn’t until I looked back that I realized the problem. And this is something that I don’t think is really discussed in this chapter, but as I meditate and write, I can’t not hit this.
Just as our relationship with Christ is the key to our faith, relationships with people are the key to helping them find faith in Christ.
How can we expect people to hear us, if we haven’t earned the right to speak into their lives?
I appreciate that there are people that accept Christ into their hearts by praying with a total stranger. However, by and large, that’s not the case.
Several years ago, there was a Franklin Graham Crusade in our local area. I and several folks I knew went to take the Christian Life & Witness classes that Graham’s organization required of its volunteer altar counselors. And the one thing they stressed that has stuck with me all of these years is that it isn’t about a one-night stand with Jesus at the crusade. It’s about friends, coming alongside that person, and helping them to develop their relationship with Christ.
Yes, I recognize that Groeschel was taking primarily about evangelism and I’ve stepped firmly across the line into discussing discipleship, but doggone it, I have to agree with the statement from George Barna that says that evangelism without discipleship is spiritual abuse. Thank God that He didn’t just send somebody to save me from the jaws of the lion and then leave me alone in the jungle to be eaten by predators!
This chapter reminded me of something else that I’ve often been convicted by. I live such an insulated life. I get up each day and go to a job where everyone already knows Christ. I come home to a household where everyone (me and the dog) already knows Christ. My neighbor is a Christian. And the majority of my social life is centered at my church.
I’m not ashamed of Christ. I love Him, I’m beyond grateful that He loves me, and I don’t care who knows it.
But in my insulated life, who is there to tell about Him?
And then, something happened yesterday. I was at my insulated, everybody’s-a-Christian job and I answered a call on the switchboard. The phone number was “Out of Area” and he wouldn’t tell me his name or where he was calling from, but he wanted to know what God says about forgiveness. Immediately, I felt incapable and insufficient. I stuttered for a moment and then realized that the man on the other end of the line was in pain and needed to hear Jesus.
And so, I told him.
Oh, he was already a Christian. But he was a hurting Christian who needed somebody to come alongside him and help him find his way back to Jesus. And for fifteen minutes, regardless of my feelings of inability and inferiority, I was that person. Regardless of the fact that we may never meet and will quite probably never speak again, God allowed me to be that person.
I think Craig Groeschel’s intention with this chapter was to open our eyes to the fact that we should be open with the world about the Christ we serve. I just believe that we have to be open and willing to be used—whether in a single phone call or a life-long relationship. It’s not just about notches on the cover of your Bible. And it’s not just about bringing the people to Jesus. It’s about helping them stay there.