Is It a Proclamation or a Clubbing?

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Then he told them, "As you go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to everyone.” Mark 16:15 (Image from iStock)

Then he told them, “As you go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to everyone.” Mark 16:15
(Image from iStock)

The woman knocked five or six times before she gave up and left a tract in the door. Until she was out of sight, our dog barked (unusual for her) like she was terrified.

“Our visitor came to proclaim the gospel while our dog sounds like she’s encountered a demon” was all I could think.

That’s my skewed vision of in-your-face proclamation, but that’s because I’ve never known it to turn out well.

Like the time I told our neighbor’s girlfriend I’d pray for her when she was struggling through a difficult pregnancy. In spite of the fact that I didn’t follow through, the following week she thanked me after getting a good report from her doctor. I said, “That’s the power of prayer for you.” The next day, she miscarried.

Another time, my aunt turned down my invitation in front of the family when I invited her to church. I said, “Don’t blame me if the result of that decision isn’t a good one.” A close family member commended me for being bold in my faith, which was exactly why I spoke up – to impress him. It’s been at least a decade and I still cringe when I think about how I spoke to my aunt.

Then there was the summer of walking the beach alongside Campus Crusade for Christ members who witnessed to addicts and prostitutes. When our youth group got the hang of it, we were sent out in pairs to do the same. I’m sure our youth director had good intentions, but he had no business encouraging teenaged girls to wander up to strangers, however, I did it because I wanted to impress him in the same way I wanted to impress my family.

Although I’m sure God can use these circumstances and he may have, it seems our egos cause him extra work.

I’d like to say I’m not knocking “proclaiming the gospel,” especially since it’s in the Bible, but I sort of am if we’re talking about clubbing innocent bystanders over the head with what we decide they need to hear. I can’t recall a single time this strategy worked, whether I’ve been the one clubbing or the one being clubbed. I have, however, been transformed by people’s actions, which I happen to think is the harder “proclamation” because doing is harder than talking.

What does “proclaiming the gospel” mean to you? When is it most effective?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, I’m not questioning what you’ve told us to do. I’m questioning how we’ve interpreted it and how we carry it out. Help us know your way.

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26 responses »

  1. I LOVE this!!! You hit the nail on the head. So many times I see “Christians” going out into the “mission field” to spread the gospel. God puts people in our paths everyday. People who truly see you walking out your faith. These are the lives God has put in your path to have an impact on. I’m not sure why so many go looking for lives to change on the other side of the world when they’re not willing to have an impact on the lives across the street or even across the dinner table. Let them see Christ’s love thru you & in your life. There is no need to tell them what they are doing wrong. Believe me, they already know it’s wrong. Whenever you are pointing a finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you.

    • “Whenever you are pointing a finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you.” One of my husbands favorite expressions…I cannot tell you the number of times he used it when raising our daughters. 🙂

      • Dolores, that’s funny. I had a friend who used to tell me that same thing anytime I’d complain about others. She helped me so much to focus on myself instead of “them.”

    • Tracy, your comment brought to mind two quotes that I love. One is by Mother Teresa, “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” The other is by Kin Hubbard, “Kindness goes a long ways lots of times when it ought to stay at home.”

      I agree, I agree, I agree with your comment. I admire those who are willing to do mission work overseas, but I also admire people willing to show that same love and dedication in their homes, in our neighborhoods, and at Belk and Target. The elderly woman who used to clean the school where I taught was one of the best examples I’ve seen of God’s love. She cleaned every classroom like it was her home and took care/listened to every child like she birthed them.

      By the way, I admire your pink mission field. Shine on, my friend!

  2. Spot on, Kim!

    The best form of evangelization is example. Be the message, and if it’s a good one people will ask how to be more like you.

    Just walking up to strangers and telling them about the Gospel is, to me, both stupid and a disservice to the Man. It’s stupid because the message itself generally isn’t enough – people have to see it applied.

    Like an example in a math book, really – you can quote formulas all day but you’ll only really teach them when you show how and where they are used.

    It’s a disservice because “cold-calling” with the Gospel sets up resistance. In many, if not most cases one is asking a person to abandon a previously held faith (even it’s a vague “Santa God” belief) and embrace Jesus. Well – most people don’t like to admit they’re wrong, much less be shown they’re wrong.

    So they look for arguments to refute the Gospel. Instead of saving their souls, we’re driving them further away. And I have a feeling that for every “proclamation conversion” there are several individuals whose armor – the armor against God – we have just hardened.

    • Andrew, spot on to you! I have to tell you, you always bring something to the comment section that is fresh and insightful.

      I agree with every word, especially the disservice of cold-calling with the Gospel. It’s never occurred to me to name it that, but that’s exactly what’s happening when we accost someone with scripture. Just like in the business world, it’s not welcomed or effective.

      And, yes, I suspect the same thing … hardening happens more often than conversions. At least that’s what I’ve observed.

  3. I agree! I think the Bible does, too. 1John 3:18 and John 13:35…..I love reading your blog….I feel like it makes us kindred spirits.

  4. Clubbing is not the answer! However, I think sharing the gospel is a balance between walking the walking and talking the talk. The Great Commission uses three words that to me denote activity – “Go” “make” and “teach” which requires us to use our body, mouths and lives. The most important key to the whole mandate is the first part of the verse-“The Power of the Holy Spirit.” When we do something within our on power, we set ourselves up for failure and do an injustice to the gospel. We cannot become the one who convicts nor the one who saves, that is the work of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. I think that is where we get in trouble. Instead of sticking to our responsibility, we feel we must do what was not assigned to us. I try to be sensitive to the opportunities to witness and share the gospel as God opens the door of opportunity either by sending someone my way or sending me their way. I too have cringed at past encounters Kim. The Christian life is a growing experience -continuously! Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your post.

    • Wonderful explanation, Rhonda.

      We do sometimes take on God’s part (we were discussing this recently in our Wednesday night Bible study), almost like we’re setting ourselves up as Him. When we do this, we’re treading on thin ice and often do more damage than good. Thankfully God is bigger than our mistakes. And, in spite of those mistakes, we’re still expected to step up to our responsibilities and God-given opportunities.

      I enjoy having you as a reader, a commenter and a friend. Thank you!

  5. So well said!

    This resonates with me because I have always been so very uncomfortable with traditional ‘evangelism’.

    As you said, it’s our actions that speak, and if my actions aren’t causing people to ask me questions about the way I live and why, THEN is the time to start looking at how well, or not, I am living out my faith.

    I just always think how weird it would be if people knocked on your door with the express purpose of telling you to use a certain brand of laundry detergent, or to drive a particular make of car, or give you all the reasons why you should visit a certain country….and that’s how I think door to door evangelism is viewed – weird, annoying and most definitely off-putting.

    Love you and your words, Kim 🙂

    • Susannah, I got so tickled by your examples, especially someone coming to my door to tell me to use Tide for my laundry. Now, that’d be funny and, yes, weird. I’d probably then get annoyed and put off.

      I do wonder what they’re thinking when they roam our neighborhood, but not enough to open my door and ask. Unless, of course, they’re giving me laundry detergent. 🙂

      Thank you for relating. I love you too, friend.

  6. I love the content in this post, Kim. After decades, I still struggle with the expectation that people active in church ministries should be model Christians and the disappointment I feel – again – when it’s clear they are not. I often do NOT speak up when I could, because I feel my own actions are often not model Christian behavior, and I don’t want to be a poor representation of Jesus.

    Agreeing with those who commented before me, actions speak so much louder than words. I don’t like being verbally clubbed about anything – spiritual or secular – so I mostly keep mum on speaking out on spiritual matters to those who have not clearly invited it. But I do pray that I have the courage to speak when He puts opportunities right in my face. 🙂

    • I love your comment, Natine. I feel the same way. In fact, your comment made me think about something I did nearly two decades ago. I used to have a Christian fish on my car, but one day my husband pulled up in the driveway while I was scraping it off. When he asked why, all I could say was that I couldn’t live up to it. I know, why not change my ways? And I tried, but then I’d see another car with a fish and the driver was giving ugly looks or cutting people off in traffic, so I figured it’d be less stressful to try harder, but still take the fish off. Makes me laugh realizing how I think about these sorts of things.

      I also pray and hope I’ll have the courage to speak up when the opportunities come.

  7. Wow, what a good/honest look at this question. I think your prayer at the end sums up how I feel — just really needing God to show me the way. I sometimes think living by example is good, but other times, I think about Scriptures that say, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word,” so at some point people need to actually be confronted with Scripture somehow, somehow lovingly. I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I know it comes easier to some people than to others —

    • Nicole, thank you for an honest comment. I tend to swing from one extreme to the other. Someone lovingly shared with me recently that I may have thrown the baby out with the bath water. 🙂 Yep, I’ve been known to do that a time or two. There’s a balance, I’m sure, but I’m like you … I haven’t quite figured it out.

      Stop by anytime. I love the company and I appreciate your insight.

  8. Christians are entreated to spread the Good News.

    There are many ways to do this. It can be done by preaching or perhaps by distributing material. I have found that the best way to send a message is to live it. I have tried the preaching and argumentative approaches but they are usually ineffective.

    But what is the Good News. It is Christ’s Salvation Act on the Cross, a sign of Divine and Eternal Love. How few of us would sacrifice our lives for a stranger?

    Jesus preached, but He also showed us how to love by the example He set, His concern for the poor and the sick he met. He also taught us how to pray to the Father. “Always Thy Will be done” (not mine but Thine”)

    I guess what I am saying is that if we are truly lovers of ourselves and others, this love will be there for others to see and accept or reject. True love requires a bit of dying to self. We have to give a bit of ourselves. The more we learn to love, the closer we are to God. People who give to others make dying a process rather than an event.

    “We all want to get to Heaven but we do not want to die to get there”

  9. Thanks for passing along your insights, Bob. I’m especially grateful for this statement you shared, “There are many ways to do this (spread the Good News).” So true!

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