Admitting to being a “recovering fundamentalist,” Ray Jones, coordinator of evangelism for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), told the group how he never heard the word “grace” until he was 17. That was when his high school sweetheart — now wife — brought him the Good News and drew him into the Presbyterian fold.
Some of us have a tendency to wince when we think about evangelism. We’ve got cartoon images of someone on a street corner with a bullhorn, yelling at people.
In contrast, Jones maintains that evangelism is bringing this simple good news: “God is a God of love. When we are face-to-face with Jesus, he will ask, ‘Did you know how much I loved you — how I loved calling your name and hearing the sound of your voice? I loved you just as you were, but loved you too much to let you stay there.’”
Drawing from his favorite passage from Scripture, Colossians 1:15, Jones proclaimed, “The first thing about the gospel is that there is one thing that holds us together. It’s Jesus. Paul says that Jesus is the full revelation of God. Not some part or piece.”
The second thing about the good news is that there’s room enough for everyone. And the third is that all the broken pieces get fit together in Jesus.
All of us have our own stories of how our broken pieces have been brought to the One who will restore all creation. Following Jesus, we get sent out into our neighborhoods to tell our stories of transformation, and then to engage new disciples into the community.
The goal is a church in which the best of social justice and evangelism meet each other. “Look for people who are already on the journey,” Jones urged. “Have prayer and Bible study in bars, tattoo parlors and homeless shelters. Hold prayer walks in drug-infested neighborhoods. Evangelism isn’t rocket science. It’s about seeing what God is doing in your community.”