I wondered last night after I posted SAVED, if I would be offensive to some. It is not my intent. If you are Baptist and that is your walk, I have no issue with your walk. I believe that both walks, Time & Date and Always Accepted, are both valid. My issues come about when others persist that there walk is the only valid way, and they quote some scripture to "try" and prove their point.
By the way, Always Accepted (in my words) means that you grew up knowning Jesus Christ. You knew he was the Savour, Son of God, Light of the World, so on and so on. You didn't have to be convinced at a later time. And over time you internalize this knowledge as truth. You may make a profession of faith statement at confirmation or through baptismal or some other means. As opposed to Santa, who you grew up as a child believing in, but later found out was not real and rejected that previous knowledge (although you secretly wish he WERE real to keep on getting those gifts!).
I was affirmed somewhat today when the first couple of people in the Study came in and they were not liking what they had read. This form of evangelism, where you go up to people and ask about their relationship with Jesus Christ, is a turn off for them as they have had people approach them in this manner. At times it can be offensive. The temperature of this group is one where we demonstrate Christ to others through our lives, actions, outreach, or some other means, and not the overly overt method implied by this study. It may just be what we are comfortable with. We also try and be as authentic as we can, and for outsiders may not look like quote "Christians" overall, but that view is a bad distortion of what Christianity is supposed to look like anyway. Plastic smiles and three piece suits do not a christian make.
So I had to begin the lesson by disclaimer. That both walks are equally valid depending on where you are in life. There is certainly some good to come out of introducing people to Jesus the Christ, there are just differences in how we wish to do this. Some folks were threatening that they would not come to this study if it was going right by the book. I assured them we were not, but we would explore the meaning of Evangelism in the process. It was a lively discussion. I also promised I would preview future studies in the past before signing on to one the church suggests. I should have known better as my church's latest attempts at ministering to the people have failed miserably. But I'm an optimist, damnit.
There are one or two people in this group who came to Christ by being introduced to him by someone else and having the Time & Date moment. I do not wish to minimize their experience. Nor do I like for my experience to be minimized either. The rest of us are still having those moments, where we try and place Jesus where he needs to be daily, as so well put by Endlessly Restless in the comments on the first Saved.
So if you feel compelled to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, please check your approach to people. It would be worse to turn them completely off than to show them Christ by your very being. And to be fair to Bill Hybels, he does use this modified approach, that if the person isn't interested he backs off - but his motive is still there and he just tries another way. Very persistent.
One day I'll blog about the verse in John "the only way to the Father is by me...". Whew, thats a fun one to debate with fundamentalists.