Evangelism and the Filthy Watering Hole

It was one of the filthiest watering holes I had ever seen (not that I’ve seen many). Trash collected in piles along the banks, and the water foamed in some spots incessantly. Yet despite these facts, it was the swimming pool for many a young kid in this Alabama town. We had invited them to the public pool to swim with us but the reality was that most of them not only didn’t have the money to pay the entrance fee, but some of them didn’t even have the required bathing suits (you know the ones with the interior lining). If we were going to hang out with them, build relationships, and share Jesus that meant going where they hung out: this nasty “pool.”

This should really be a primary practice of all good evangelistic endeavors: go where non-Christians are. It was the practice of Jesus. So focused on reaching sinners with the gospel was our Lord that he willingly spent large amounts of time in their homes and at their meeting places. In fact Jesus was so frequently seen  with sinners that the Jews said, “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19b)!

Far too often Christians assume that if we just open up our church doors, hold a good event on our property, or send out a mailer than all the non-Christians will come to us. That is simply not true. In fact many scholars have been saying that when people have spiritual questions of any sort they no longer look to the church for answers. I know my own experience has found as many non-Christians pursuing spiritual answers from the movie theater and their iTunes collection as pursue answers from the church. If we are going to impact our world, our community, our neighborhood with the gospel we must go where non-Christians are. This was not a practice I use to like. In fact at the watering hole in Alabama I found myself not only swimming in polluted water, but I also got hurt. The kids from the neighborhood all jumped out of a particular tree into the water. When I followed I found that the water was extremely shallow where they were jumping and I ended up with a handful of rocks embedded into my feet. But by spending the day with them I found them more willing to come hang out with us…the rocks were worth it.

Where do non-Christians congregate in your community? How can you connect with them? Are you expecting them to come to you, or are you, like Jesus, going to them? Evangelistic outreach requires us to take the gospel to the world, not to expect the world to come to us!

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  1. […] It was one of the filthiest watering holes I had ever seen (not that I've seen many). Trash collected in piles along the banks, and the water foamed in some spots incessantly. Yet despite these facts, it was the swimming pool for many a young kid in this Alabama town. We had invited them to the public pool to swim with us but the reality was that most of them not only didn't have the money to pay the entrance fee, but some of them didn't even hav … Read More […]

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