by Loren Gjesdal

This is the season in which we are reminded to give thanks in everything (1 Thes 5:18). The last part of the Mission Statement of the church where I serve as co-pastor is summarized with the words, Share Jesus. Give Thanks, Share Jesus. At the Marion Church of God (Seventh Day), they go together.

For many Christians, evangelism carries the connotation of going door to door handing out pamphlets or otherwise giving a gospel summary followed by an invitation to receive Jesus as Savior. For many, such efforts are intimidating and often frustratingly unfruitful. Maybe there is a better way.

Our culture is rapidly abandoning the concept of truth. Not just disagreeing about what is true but concluding that it is either impossible to know what is true or that truth doesn’t exist at all. This greatly complicates evangelism as most efforts center around stating the truth claims of Jesus. A skeptical and cynical culture dismisses such claims as “your truth” but not necessarily my truth. How do we cut through?

Jesus gave us this helpful and relevant instruction:

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Sharing the Love of Jesus in Tangible Ways

At the Marion church we have let these words guide most of our evangelistic outreach efforts. From an annual Back to School Clothing giveaway, to a Feed the Hungry initiative, to weekly Benevolence efforts, the Marion church seeks to share the love of Jesus in tangible ways. Such efforts can’t be so easily dismissed as “your truth” when His love becomes “my blessing” to the recipient.

In November we had the exciting opportunity to both give thanks and share Jesus at the same time! Each year the Marion Church shares the abundance of God’s blessings with our community through a Thanksgiving Basket giveaway. Our expression of thanks to God is to give to others in the name of Jesus, a good work we pray will result in glory to our Father in Heaven.

Members Working Together

What if we all thought of evangelism as being less about proving what is true and more about making Jesus visible to our community? I would hope both the church and our community would respond positively. But I also believe it is powerful to see two more things along the way:  how much impact a church can have when its members work together, and how great the need is in our communities. In this way we would also become more like Jesus, which is the whole point of discipleship:

In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and *said to them, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat (Mark 8:1-2).

Jesus gave these further instructions regarding outreach that are just as true today as when He spoke them:

And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).

Volunteer to Be One of the Laborers

I pray that every member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) will gladly volunteer to be one of the laborers, that we will begin to see with Jesus’ eyes, feel with Jesus’ heart, and act as Jesus’ hands.

This month is an opportunity to fulfill two wonderful commands at once: Give Thanks, Share Jesus! Our prayer is that as we make Jesus visible, a cynical culture may then be willing to hear who Jesus is and what He has done for them from the mouths of those who have begun to look like Him.