I know I might be stepping on some toes for posting this next series, since the topic of evangelism can be a touchy one for Christians, but I hope that, if it does not change anyone’s mind, then it will at least challenge some. I started writing this about seven years ago, and since then I have worked on it from time to time. During this period, my thinking on this topic has undergone some changes, so I am open to criticism and discussion, realizing that my vantage point could change yet more.

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It was an experience that all of us have probably had at one time or another. It happened quite a few years ago. I was sitting by myself at a café in a southern California mall, minding my own business. Quite unexpectedly a very friendly young girl stepped up to my table and introduced herself with a disarmingly warm, cheerful smile. Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised by this sudden greeting. I recall feeling both thrilled and warmed because another human being took the time to go out of her way to begin a conversation with me. One can probably imagine the thoughts that were racing inside my head: “Maybe this is the start of a really meaningful relationship.” Most people would probably think the same way; the more lonely among us would be even more likely to think so. Naïve as I was at the time, the old adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” did not seem to occur to me. The real reason for the girl’s friendliness soon became clear: She was attempting to sell me a magazine subscription as part of a fund-raising effort. I ended up buying a subscription.

I walked away from that experience, nevertheless, with more than a magazine subscription; I carried away a powerful memory. I will never forget how deeply disappointing it was to realize that this person had never been truly interested in becoming my friend at all but was merely using friendliness as a means to an end. I now have no doubt that if she had not been trying to sell a magazine subscription to me, the encounter would have never occurred. The only goal she had was to sell me something.

Of course, such sales tactics don’t surprise us. We know that the world is full of people who will treat you like a long lost friend until they get what they want, whether it be money, the signing of a contract, or something else that will benefit them. It is certainly logical; after all, if you want people to buy your product, the last thing you will want to do is alienate them. Quite to the contrary, you will do your utmost to earn their trust and break down their resistance.

When Christians use this method, however, what should we think? What should we think of the use of this insincere tactic as a means of “selling” the gospel to the lost—if that were even possible? Should we accept the idea of befriending people so as to make them more likely to receive the truth? That, after all, is what slick salesmen do to you when they try to sell you something.

That question, however, is not the only one that confronts us when we examine this topic. Three other questions, equally as important, come to mind:  (1) Does the popularly held view of friendship evangelism contradict Scripture? (2) If not, can this method be supported from Scripture? and (3) Does it meet the urgent demands of the Great Commission? If the answer to any of these questions is negative, then Christians have good reason to reject this approach.

Continued in Part Two…

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About the Author



The author of this blog, Jeremy (Jehanne), is a Catholic who strives to think God's thoughts after Him and obey Christ's exhortation to take up the cross daily and follow Him on the way to Golgotha. He likes reading theology, evangelizing, and, of course, writing.