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Top 10 Evangelism Mistakes

This week I am starting a new series on common mistakes people make in evangelism, and how we can correct them.

#10 Using Manipulation Tactics

“If you knew that you were going to die tomorrow, would you—without a doubt—know that you were going to heaven?”

This is the question I was taught to initiate a spiritual discussion with someone. The problem is that this statement smacks of arrogance, pressure, and manipulation. I might as well have said, “Turn or burn, you sinner!” Sure, it worked occasionally—when someone was so scared out of their wits that they would do anything to avoid the alternative.

But manipulation is not the way to treat people or help them follow Jesus with a good conscience. And, it does not reflect well on the God of love, patience and acceptance. After all, what benefit would there be in being forced into religion by dodging a bullet?

There must be a better way.

If you think about it, Jesus never manipulated people into believing in him. His encounters with them did not end with an altar call or forcing them into a shotgun decision. Instead, he shared his love with them. The woman who washed Jesus’ feet was likely a prostitute, but Jesus never judged her. He accepted her and allowed her to dry his feet with her hair as his peers scowled. We do not know if the woman accepted Jesus as “Lord of her life”, but certainly she was touched by his expressions of love.

This is the Savior we need to share with others—someone who is understanding, comforting, and compassionate. People already face too many pressures—at work, at home, and in their relationships with others—to be receptive to a God who will only further exacerbate their problems. Our job is to let the traits of Jesus shine through us so that others will see his glory in us. When we do that, manipulation and pride will vanish, and people will be able to recognize that Jesus unconditionally loves them and offers them hope and peace.

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