Four Lessons on Evangelism from a Runner
I ran my second trail race a few weekends back. I’ve run on and off for several years now, but not too many races and not on trails. I wouldn’t have run this one had it not been for Baker, a brother in Christ and a committed runner. And by committed I mean enthusiastically addicted. He organized the race last year and invited me so I signed up. Now if most people had asked me to try out a trail run I would have found an excuse to not participate. I’m usually moving at a pretty leisurely pace, on pavement, with headphones blocking out the world. But Baker’s enthusiasm for running is so contagious that I felt compelled to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
The other day I was running with Baker and another friend. Lagging well behind both of them, I began to think how well the invitation for me to run with them was like good evangelism.
be a natural to who you are
Anyone who’s around Baker for even a little while picks up that he’s a runner. It’s simply part of who he is. We communicate who we are as much as what we know. While it’s appropriate to learn methods to effectively communicate the Gospel, it is more important that the truth of Jesus penetrates and reorients our own hearts. Method is secondary to a soul overwhelmed by God’s grace.
flow from a love you want to share
Baker is always inviting people to run because of his sincere love for running and a desire to share it with friends. Sharing the good news of Jesus effectively begins with our own sincere love for Christ and His Gospel. We naturally share what we love with those we love. Passion is contagious!
OK, I have to admit I’ve turned down several invites to run. Sometimes out of laziness; sometimes because I didn’t want to be the slowest, oldest, and most out of shape in the group; and sometimes just because it wasn’t a good time for my schedule. But the invitations kept coming. For most Christians, if we ever do try to share our faith or invite someone to church we probably err more to giving up too soon rather than being too pushy or overbearing. People are more open at different times in their lives to listening and considering spiritual matters. By being patient, respectful, and consistent we reach people in God’s timing.
be a team effort
While Baker is the most passionate one I know, there are several runners in our congregation. Being around so many men and women who lace up and hit the pavement somehow helps nudge me to do the same. Seeing others out, being able to ask questions, and getting encouragement all play their part in inspiring me to sign up for a race or get out when I wouldn’t otherwise. We need to remember that evangelism is a work of the whole church. Someone must share the message and extend an invitation, but the message also needs to be supported with hospitality, encouragement, and sincere kindness.