The Patience of Evangelism

I believe that impatience is one of the deepest flaws in the evangelism that we have learned from contemporary Christianity.

When you believe that your ministry of evangelism is on a timetable to get people to believe in Jesus before a certain point (e.g. before they die) then you naturally become impatient and then desperate. You become willing to manipulate and play tricks. You become willing to put programs and activities above people. You decide that the end really does justify the means. This desperation becomes the stench of death to the non-believer and ends up derailing the very goal it seeks to achieve.

There is only one reason, in Christ, to be in relationship with a non-believer: because you like and love that person and want to be with him.

In fact, you like and love that person so much that you want to listen to him and be in relationship with him even if he never comes to believe the truth about his identity in Jesus. This is exactly who Jesus is and what Jesus has done.

In Jesus, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have decided to always be God with humanity, even if humanity forever keeps wanting to be humanity without God.

The Trinity likes and loves us that much, that they would rather have us in our disbelief – and really have us – than to be without us. That is why the Father is called the Father, because he loves us the way only a Father can. In fact, what we call the love of fatherhood is but a pale reflection of the source of all parental love: the Father who has always loved the Son and includes humanity in that same love through the Son’s union with humanity as the man Jesus Christ.

The Father has decided that all human beings will live forever in the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:22). This means that the Father has given himself eternity to keep talking to his children about how much he loves them and to keep inviting them to join the eternal celebration of his Kingdom Feast (Luke 15:28).

So, if we are going to participate in Jesus’ ministry of evangelism we need to take a deep breath, relax, and settle in for the long haul.

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Ted Johnston on

    Jonathan,

    What you so well express is helpfully unpacked by Andrew Root in “Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry” (IVP, 2007).

    Root refers to Jesus’ ministry as on one of “place sharing.” And it’s our calling as believers to be “place sharers” with him – sharing his relationship with other people, and in so doing helping us and them to see Jesus more clearly.

    Relationship is not a means to some other end, but the “place” and the “means” by which Jesus is present to us in our world. It’s our joy and privalege to be with Jesus there.

  2. Margaret on

    I love what you’re saying here Pastor Jonathan! Love as God loves! The thoughts that come into my head are – just wait and see and praise God for what he has done! It’s exciting!

  3. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for the encouraging comments!

  4. Bonnie Fairchild on

    How very profound. It isn’t up to us. God’s greatness is beyond my understanding.


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