Oh, but We Couldn’t Do That!
By William Harry Fetz
Several of us were talking together about a local religious sect whose members forced their way into homes to insist that their particular non-Christian views be accepted as the ultimate truth of Jehovah.
The question was put to me: “Pastor, why is this group growing so phenomenally and we are not?”
I answered: “Any religious group grows rapidly when it is young and small. And then when a bigness is achieved growth stops. Methodism also grew phenomenally when it was young and smaller.”
I then waited for the next question, and it came quickly: “Why should this be? Why have we stopped growing?”
“Because,” I said, “this group you talk about is doing what Methodist people once did, but now almost never do.”
An answer to the questioning looks, I continued: “Methodist people and preachers used to go house-to-house speaking to people about their faith. The group you talk about does this and grows; we grew as long as we did it.”
Almost in unison, several people exclaimed: “But we teach in Sunday School. We do other things in support of our church … ”
“Indeed, what you are doing is good and we need more of it,” I replied. “But the other group does all this for their halls, and still, they persist in calling in your home and mine to talk to us about our faith. We Methodists almost never talk to anybody about their faith in Christ.”
Then I asked, “How many of you will study lay evangelism and spend several months calling house-to-house to present Christ as Saviour?”
Several answered, “Oh, we couldn’t do that….”
“There you are.” I said, “That’s why Methodism has stopped growing!”
From their expressions I knew they understood. But I also understood and sympathized with them. I knew my people actually were afraid they might infringe upon the sensitivity of others!
There is, however, a middle ground of sensible evangelism, which must be done person-to-person and house-to-house. This does not minimize newer tools of evangelism like radio and TV; nor older, proven tools like the printed and preached Word. But the personal approach of evangelism will always be basically person-to-person – by you and by me! This approach can be — must be — without over-bearing pressure. But evangelism must grow out of sincere personal interest and a genuine desire to offer Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Methodist Christians, we must regain our person-to-person interest in presenting Christ to others! Then God will honor our great denomination, for we will be justifying His purpose in calling us into being. Let us pray for one another.
William Harry Fetz is a Pastor of The Methodist Church, Savanna, Illinois.