Dear Friends in Christ~
What do you think of when you hear the word “evangelism”? Do you envision people on street corners shouting at the passing crowd? Does it make you uncomfortable? If so I think you’re in good company. I bet you would rather do about anything else than to engage a stranger on the street in a conversation about your faith.
And yet, when we’re confirmed into the church we are asked to reaffirm our baptismal covenant by answering the question: “Will you proclaim by your WITNESS and EXAMPLE the GOOD NEWS of God in Christ?” Doing good (example) is one thing, talking (witness) about our faith, for many of us, is intimidating. I saw a movie once where a man was hit by a car and another guy runs up to the obviously dying man and asks him if he had accepted Jesus as his savior, then asked him to repeat with him “the sinner’s prayer” so that he would be sure to get to heaven. I have to say I had some seriously unchristian thoughts about that kind of thing.
In the Gospel of John, Andrew is hanging out with John the Baptist when Jesus walks by and John points him out to Andrew, so Andrew follows Jesus down the road. After a bit Jesus turns around and asks Andrew “What are you looking for?” And Andrew says: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” And Jesus replies: “Come and see.” Andrew takes Jesus up on that offer and spends at least the afternoon with Jesus, and he is changed as a result of the time spent with Jesus. Andrew was changed by that time he spent with Jesus and he faithfully followed Jesus from that point on. We also know that Andrew is transformed by his time with Jesus because he rushes home to his brother Simon to say “Hey man, you’ve got to come and see what I have seen!” That invitation to Come and See will spread and Andrew will invite the people he loves into that Christ-following community.
Andrew will not only find a new identity and a new community as he follows Jesus, he will also find a greater purpose, which is spreading the message that God’s love is for everyone and that God’s love will turn the world right-side up and the things that are old are being made new. Things that are wrong are being made right. God is ushering in a new kingdom right before their very eyes. And that is how, in John’s gospel, the first disciples were called. It started with a guy spending an afternoon with Jesus, and he notices that something within him has been transformed by just being with Jesus, and then he goes and shares with someone else how he was transformed.
You are likely worshipping at United because someone invited you. It doesn’t have to take an awkward conversation with a stranger. It doesn’t have to take great certainty or precise theological language. Sometimes all it takes to change the trajectory of someone’s life is an invitation to come and see.