On Thursday, the Chicago Tribune featured an article about the World Council of Churches and the Vatican teaming up to establish a code of conduct for Evangelism.
Now I can’t say that when the WCC and the Vatican link arms, that I’m necessarily gonna be right there with them. And it could be that the code they eventually establish (if they can agree at all) would be rubbish. But I have to applaud them at least for making this effort. I believe it’s a worthy one.
It makes me want to write my own code of conduct… like a gentleman’s agreement. Not enforcible, but public enough so that can even non-Christians can hold us accountable to it.
Although I think my motive for doing so would be different from the Vatican/WCC initiative. They seem mostly concerned about governments on the brink of passing anti-evangelism legislation. It is thought that an established code of conduct might persuade them that evangelism is not dangerous, and should not be banned. They may be right, or it may be that these goverments are not so much worried about evangelism being pushy or annoying… they’re worried about it being effective. Then the only way to appease them would be to prove that the WCC and the Vatican only intend to engage in ineffective evangelism. I could see it, actually.
Maybe the reason that I don’t have this motive is that the U.S. is not on the brink of such legislation. Some people would argue with me, and it may very well be the case in 10 or 20 years, but not just yet. So my motive is more about helping the community to understand that we are also displeased with the nature of much of the evangelism that goes on, and we are committed to curbing it, even as we strive to obey the command to spread the Gospel.
So I’m going to jot down some preliminary, off-the-top-of-my-head ideas for an Evangelistic Code of Conduct. Here goes…
- interrupt people’s lives purely for the sake of evangelism.
- hand anyone a tract until you know they’re interested in reading it (and maybe not even then.)
- use tracts that look like money (ever!)
- wear a sandwich board or hold a sign or use a bullhorn (or shout as if you wished you had one.)
- use scripture with people who clearly don’t care about it.
- wear a big, fake smile and slap people on the back and say “awesome” all the time.
- argue (ever!)
- force people to hear your message in order receive something else that they want.
- lose interest in a person once they’ve said they’re not interested in the gospel
- separate your “real life” from your “ministry life.”
- listen carefully and respectfully
- be yourself, and talk like you talk.
- be willing to admit that you don’t know.
- be willing to admit that Christianity is not easy.
- apologize for the times that you, or Christians in general, have failed to exhibit the love of Christ.
- meet people’s needs with no strings attached.
- invite people into your life.
- consider living among the people you’re ministering to (or minister to the people you’re living among.)
- pray earnestly for unbelievers, and for your ability to be Christ to them.
- enjoy people’s company, plain and simple.
OK… I know I’m missing a lot, so you’ll have to add a comment to help me out. Go ahead… click that little “add a comment” link… I know you can do it.