This morning I bounced this question off my college-age daughter, who's a missions major: "Can you give me one clear example from the New Testament of a Christian (even Jesus, or any disciple, apostle, etc.) who walks up to a stranger and initiates a conversation specifically for the purpose of converting them to Christianity?" In other words, does our modern technique of aggressive E.E. find any real support in Scripture?
She was stumped.
So was I.
She proposed the lame temple beggar whom Peter healed. I noted that the beggar initiated that conversation. I thought of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch initiated that. Then I thought of the people who approached Jesus, whom He almost seemed to rebuff -- the rich young ruler, the Syro-Phoenician woman, to begin. Even when people approach Jesus, He seems to counter with, "Are you really sure you want this faith?"
There is the Great Commission: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, teaching them ...." Go, teach, baptize, teach. But there's no instruction about accosting strangers on the street, individually. I don't see any examples of this. Please correct me if my failing memory is, um, failing me. Which is certainly possible. (I guess Paul himself, and the disciples perhaps, are the best examples of aggressive evangelism! But I'm really thinking of after the Lord enlists this core group as His team.)
Generally speaking, even with Paul, the most aggressive of the missionaries, I see a man who goes into a new community, enters the existing religious establishment and starts preaching. He does what Jesus instructs. Then he waits for interested parties to approach him and ask questions. I simply don't see examples of door-to-door evangelism. I see bold, vocal, friendly Christians who respond to those whom God draws to them.
(Has somebody famous already written a book about this, and I just missed? I, and every guilt-ridden Christian I know?)
Because ... all Christians (especially the introverts among us) feel mighty guilty that we're not out there evangelizing in that accost-a-stranger fashion. We've been told since 4 year old Sunday school that we're supposed to. Nobody ever dared to voice the lazy, good-for-nothing, chicken opinion that we could simply make friends with lots of people, work hard to be like Jesus, and wait for them to ask.
That would mean we would wait for God. We would wait on the Holy Spirit to have moved already in the person's heart. We would have trusted Him to draw His people to His people.
Maybe I'm crazy, but this was a small eye-opener to me. I'm gonna stop feeling guilty that I don't scare people at their front doors. I may work harder, however, at being a real friend to more people, and not just ones in my church. It's a good idea. Maybe God will use it.