Most churches have a minister of evangelism, an evangelism committee, or some other group in charge of evangelism. Churches that make evangelism a priority attempt to involve all church members in the work of evangelism. Ordinarily, those involved in evangelism have two purposes: converting non-Christians to Christianity and growing church membership by adding those who are already Christians to the church’s membership roll.
Either way, new converts or new members are led into the acceptance of the church’s set of beliefs. Every church has a set of beliefs, some of which overlap with the beliefs of other churches. Whether stated overtly or more indirectly, new converts or new members are expected to conform to the set of beliefs peculiar to the church the new converts or new members are joining.
Paul’s evangelism strategy was different.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (I Corinthians 9:19-23, NIV)
Rather than setting forth a church’s set of beliefs or even his own set of beliefs to bring people to Christ, Paul not only met people where they were spiritually; he became like the people, seemingly without regard to what they believed. Paul’s purpose wasn’t to convert people to a set of beliefs. His purpose was to convert people to Christ.
Should’t that be our purpose? Shouldn’t we become all things to all people for the sake of Christ? The next time you attend an evangelism meeting at your church, propose Paul’s words in I Corinthians 9:9-13 as the evangelism mission statement of your church. No doubt, that meeting will be long remembered.