The Pointlessness of Evangelizing in the US

It has been a long time since I posted anything, and I doubt many people will find this post very interesting, but it is a topic that has been bugging me for a while.  I’m aware that not everyone reading this is intimately familiar with the inner workings of Christian churches in the US, especially in evangelical Protestant churches, but, as the name implies, evangelism is a big deal.  For those of you unaware, evangelism is basically the spreading of the Good News, the Gospel of Christ.  This is basically the idea that God sent his Son, Christ, the Redeemer, to die as payment for the sins of the world, and that individuals can avoid being damned for all eternity if they but accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  Having some way of avoiding eternal torment is good news indeed, and the purpose of evangelism in Christianity is to tell people about this possibility for salvation.  Of course, I am sure you’ve heard that story more times than you can count, and that’s the concern of this post.

It should be noted that evangelism is not proselytizing.  Proselytism is actively attempting to convert someone on to your view, like your religion.  The difference between proselytism and evangelism should be obvious as the former involves providing arguments for a specific position while the latter merely involves a declaration of some state of affairs.

With that out of the way I can get to the issue at hand.  I do not think it would be controversial to say that most Christians believe there is a Scriptural mandate to evangelize (Matthew 28:19,20 and Mark 16:15 are common examples of this).  But what happens when everyone already knows about the Gospel?  Does it make sense to continue explicit evangelism programs when the message completely saturates the society in which the evangelism is happening?  For anyone who suggests that the Bible doesn’t say to ever stop, I would suggest that commands generally have such understanding built into them.  For example, if I tell you to cook a meal, it would make little sense to continue to cook after the meal was completed.  Rather, the notion that you can stop once the ordered task has been finished seems implied in any reasonable interpretation of that command.  In which case, I have to wonder why evangelism is still so important.

Here’s the big point:  everyone already knows the Good News.  And no one has to take my word for it.  Check out the jesus signpicture to the right.  It has a single word on it:  Jesus.  That’s it.  No context is provided in the sign itself.  Rather, the assumption is that merely saying the name will tell the reader all they need to know.  It’s a reminder, not something that communicates new information.  And this kind of sign is not unique.  On the contrary, it is incredibly common.  In my city there are whole billboards that say nothing other than “JESUS” or “PRAY.”  That’s it.  Just big while letters on a black background.  And yet, I think people would be very surprised if anyone seeing those signs asked “What’s a Jesus?  Is that some guy?  Why is his name up there?” or “Pray for what, about what, TO WHAT?”  That would just be unthinkable to those putting up these signs.  Rather, they assume that an understanding of the intent of the “message” is available to everyone seeing these signs, else they would have included that information.  But, of course, that’s just not something they need consider because everyone already knows the story of Jesus

And that’s exactly my point.  The entire endeavor of evangelizing, at least here in the US, is completely pointless, and those people most concerned about this action are the ones most evidently aware of this fact.  It would never occur to them that someone had genuinely never heard of Jesus, and, of course, it should not occur to them.  The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the purpose behind that are so pervasive in our society that getting through without hearing the details is simply impossible.

That just leaves me with one unanswered question:  what exactly do all these evangelists even think they are doing?

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4 Responses to “The Pointlessness of Evangelizing in the US”

  1. Katy Says:

    You’re absolutely right, and it makes me wonder if what they should be doing instead is proselytizing. I mean, that’s what Mormons and Jehova’s Witnesses do when they come to your door. They try to give you very specific arguments as to why their religion is true in hopes that you will convert. They are seriously engaging you on the issue. Modern day Evangelical Christians and Catholics just suck really bad at all that. They’re lazy, and probably haven’t even done enough research to do that… not to mention they just don’t care enough about anyone’s soul but their own.

  2. Mac Says:

    Only someone who was already convinced of the truth of what you two write about on this blog could possibly think that anything here is more than sophomoric garbage. Really? What’s the point? You write correctly that most people have a basic understanding of the fundamental points of Jesus’ life. But many people in America have no knowledge beyond that. Besides the irreligious there are also people who are not Christians or people raised with a minimal knowledge of the Bible. Do you honestly think that the average non-Christian American is familiar with the Sermon on the Mount? Beyond that, it is also true that people have converted and have had life-transforming events connected with evangelism. The only redeeming fact about this execrable swill you’ve been posting for three years is that no one will ever be influenced by a single wasted keystroke.

  3. Mike Says:

    You are right man. Many people, in a nation that claims to be about 70-90% Christian (based on what research study you’re reading), have heard the gospel at one point or another.

    Yet, 61% of “Born-Again,” bible believing christians do not share their faith.

    Most of the time, people who do share the gospel message are only sharing a half gospel. A half gospel don’t save you half of the way either… Its simply ineffective.

    I live in Denver, Co and in a population (just the city) of about 619,000, only about 7% will tell you they are a born again Christ follower.

    So from my understanding, that leaves more than 575,000 people who don’t truly know Christ. And we have to consider what Paul said about NOT sharing the gospel…

    Acts 20:24 – But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.

    Its a no brainer for me. 😀

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