Inspiring Evangelism–Bill Hybels
“Most of the time my feeling is that senior pastors live in a bubble, they live in a church bubble, and because my second gift is evangelism I’ve always been involved in athletics and I’ve always been involved in activities outside the church that give me a lot of exposure to people who are far from God. I do sailboat racing—and that’s a very ungodly sport!—and motorcycle riding and some of these other things, you know, that I can do with non-church friends.
If a pastor gets too ‘bubble-ised’ so they’re just meeting with staff and elders, only with Christians all the time, I think they’re going to inevitably lose their evangelistic edge. And I think it affects your preaching too; I think you start to preach to the already convinced instead of preaching with a certain kind of evangelistic logic and intent.
So I think it’s very important for a pastor to look at his life or her life and to say, you know, “Does my schedule and do my relationships allow for me to be salty enough and light enough in a dark world to remind myself what the world is really like?” It’s a very good question.
This is a frequent conversation I have with pastors.They’ll say, “Our church is not very evangelistically fired up right now.” I’ll go, “Oh.” And they’ll say, “Can you give me a couple of lessons about how I can get my church more revved up evangelistically?” I go, “Well when’s the last time you’ve had a breakfast, lunch or dinner with a lost guy?” They’ll go, “I want to get my church fired up and now you’ve changed the question!” I go, “I don’t think you can get your church fired up about evangelism unless you are, and I don’t think you can stay fired up about evangelism unless you’re actually sort of face to face with lost people that you care about.”
I was asked this question in a setting recently around Willow with some lay leaders and they said, “You know, Bill, we’ve known you for decades and you still seem fired up to reach people far from God.” And I said, “Please understand, these people that I’m trying to reach are not projects; they’re actually my friends and I can’t bear the thought of going into eternity without them. So it’s not…I’m not checking off a box!”
The other thing I like to really drive home to people around Willow is, I—and I do some of this for shock value but mostly just because it’s true—I say, “Some of the finest people I know are people that don’t have the Holy Spirit in their life.” I say, “Some of my non-church, non-Christian friends are the least judgemental, most generous, kindest hearted, open-minded. You know, they’re extraordinary people! I wish my heart were as good as theirs! Think what would happen if they had the Holy Spirit in them. My gosh, they’d be angelic!”
But what we do is we fall into this polarised version of reality, and it’s not reality, that those of us who are ‘Christian’ are all the good-hearted, nice, wonderful people and all those lost people who sleep in the wrong bed and drink too much and vote wrong and all that, they’re terrible, see? That’s not my experience gang! I’m around a bunch of Christians who misbehave horribly and I’m around a bunch of non-Christians who are some of the finest, most loving, accepting people I have ever met in my life.
I like keeping that disequilibrium in my mind because it keeps me from being a black/white guy who teaches with, you know, that edge that we’re right and they’re wrong. They get it right more than we give them credit for and we get it wrong more than we like to admit.”
How does a leader shape a church for evangelism?
Join Bill Hybels and guests in Peterborough, 2-3 February 2018Leading for Mission Conference 2018