Evangelize, Proselytize or Both
This past month, I spent some time reviewing the constitution of Central Christian Church. Within the pages of this document you will find details of how the Church is to operate regarding leadership and committees and the like. What caught my attention, however, could be found on the very first page under Article II regarding our “Purpose.” The first paragraph in this section begins with this statement, “The purpose of this church shall be as revealed in the New Testament: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and win people to faith in Him…” The ideas put forth hear is not only completely scriptural, but an accurate description of what we should be about busily doing.
In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul tells his young protégé to preach the Word of God whether it is convenient or not to do so. We need to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ in times when it is convenient (on Sunday mornings), and in times when it is not (every other day of the week). This preaching the Gospel has come to be known by many as “evangelism.” We evangelize individuals by telling them about Christ and the way to Him. The Apostle later tells Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5).
In 1 Corinthians 9:22, the writer declares, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. While this scripture is also describing evangelism, we could also call this proselytizing since Paul is trying to win people to his way of thinking. The word “proselytizing” carries a negative connotation in our culture today which is largely unfair. The word is only negative when you do not approve of the group that people are being drawn to join or the reason for their enlistment.
The word proselytizing simply means to recruit someone to join a group. Everyone does this. Colleges proselytize new students, sports teams proselytize athletes, political pundits continue recruiting others to their side and individuals proselytize others to agree with their interpretation of an issue against someone else in conflict. Proselytizing is not always bad, what can make it bad is the way it is done and the reason for it. Christians should be about evangelizing and proselytizing for the right reasons and in a manner that shows Christ’s love. It is not only God’s will, but should be our desire to see others receive eternal life along with receiving the infinite benefit of being a member of His family.