I see in the news a lot about the Westboro Baptist Church. I've had my own experience with church groups like this when I visited Las Vegas a couple years ago, and I've had experience with other church groups which have their own brands of evangelism, all of which I can't agree with.
Groups like the WBC, and the one I encountered in Las Vegas, I flat out cannot support. Yes, I know where they're coming from. I understand why they are doing what they are doing. I don't agree with it. Quite honestly, I'm not all that certain that to guys or two women getting married is such a bad thing. But that's a topic for another post.
The group in Las Vegas was holding up signs which stated "God Hates Fags", and "You're going to Burn in Hell." This was at a gay pride parade. I see what they're doing, and I can't make it mesh with what I've read about Jesus. The only time Jesus showed this level of anger was when religious officials were making a mockery of God's Temple, and this was towards people who should have known better.
Jesus' main way of doing what he did was by establishing relationships with the people he was teaching. The religious officials had a hard time reconciling the fact that he would hang out with prostitutes and other ne'er do wells. When they brought it up to him he basically told them that he was here to help those who needed him.
I say I'm not your average Christian because I don't go out and evangelize. Now, if someone asks me, then I'll talk to them about it, however, I'm never the one to initiate such conversation. I think the one exception to this rule is when I get into discussions about evolution.
The emphasis to me has always been more along the lines of discipleship. Teaching to those who have become Christian, more about just what Christianity means. This stems from when I younger, and became Christian, the church I attended effectively said, "okay, we got him, he's going to heaven, let's get the next guy." They didn't actually say this, but this was kind of the perception I got about it.
I've heard stories of camps where 500 kids get saved in one night. I always think, well hey, that's great, what are you doing to follow through with them? A lot of the time, if I bring it up, I get blank stares as if they wondering what more could I want?
I've had customers when I worked at Meijer try to hand me gospel tracks, and then refuse to listen when I tell them that I'm already Christian. Or I've been to festivals where there's a booth set up, and I don't know what it is, but every time I pass near one, I get stopped and I hear the same set of questions every time.
It seems like every time, even though I explain I'm already Christian, they feel the need to continue to witness to me. It's at this point where I start having fun with them and play Devil's Advocate.
I just think that Church groups could be a much more effective in learning how to interact with people and win them over to their belief by simply examining how Jesus did it, rather than placing "GOD HATES. . ." or ". . . WILL BURN IN HELL." First of all, the only thing God hates is sin. Jesus told us that the greatest commandments are love God, and Love your neighbor as yourself. We would do well to remember that.