I began a series yesterday where we will preach through the book of 1 John. I led a bible study last fall on the book and really found it engaging. Aparently, John Wesley called 1 John the "deepest part of the Holy Scriptures" for John's ability to blend deep theological thinking with simple/plain words.
Yesterday, I focused on 1 John 1:3 where John says, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." As John writes to his churches- he is concerned about community- the unity of his flock around the person of Jesus Christ. John begins the letter by proclaiming what he has seen, heard, touched, and experienced during his time with Jesus. When we get to verse three John says that he proclaims the Word of life so that you may have fellowship with us.
Evangelism can be such a polarizing word, mostly because of the bad forms of evangelism that many of us have experienced over the years. Some are put of by it because we live in a pluralistic, tolerant society where we don't want to offend anyone by sharing our beliefs. John says, we share what we have experienced (evangelism) to invite people into fellowship- fellowship with the church community and with the community of God (Trinity). For John, evangelism is more than just the forgiveness of our sins or fire insurance from hell. Evangelism is about inviting people outside of community into community. As Christians, we are called to go out into the world to invite people into this lifegiving community.
The thing with sharing our faith is that there is really no way around it in the Bible. As much as we might try and rationalize sharing our faith- we are called to do so in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). It's also true that if we do not invite people into community with God- we are intentionally excluding them. We are also withholding the opportunity to experience God's life in this lifetime and the hope of life everlasting to come!
How are you doing with inviting people into community? What are some creative ways that you or your church is inviting people into community with God and God's church?