Evangelism has its roots planted deep within the Christian faith. From the first disciples to the modern youth pastor, a Christian’s understanding of Jesus Christ as the only way to God—that those who believe obtain eternal salvation while those who don’t, well… don’t—motivates them to want to share the Gospel with anyone and everyone they encounter. (After all, Christians are told early on that “gospel” literally means “good news.”) Thus, the idea of evangelism seems both simple and gracious; if I really care about my friends, wouldn’t I want them to experience heaven too, to obtain salvation and avoid the alternative?
For many Christians, including the authors of Faith Line Protestants, our upbringing left us with the notion that the effectiveness of evangelism was a function of a diligent prayer life, extraversion, and a healthy amount of cleverness to be able to turn a casual conversation about football or nature into a heart-to-heart on the existence of sin and the necessity of a savior. We were given homework assignments: practice through simulations, focus prayerfully on the individuals we desire to see converted, and act intentionally to catalyze the opportunity to witness. But examining these practices from an outsider’s perspective, it seems that some well meaning efforts might not appear as gracious as first assumed. This common approach toward evangelism can render us unable to recognize when our good intentions turn into something disrespectful—there is a flaw in the unattended logic of believing we’re the only ones who consider something sacred. Such an assumption implies that nothing is sacred to anyone else, and often comes across as being pompous or even, in its worst iteration, bigoted.
Being involved with interfaith work has brought these problems to our attention, as both of us were guilty of these same tactics during much of our lives. Faith Line Protestants seeks to act as both a forum and a resource for addressing different ways of evangelizing to a diverse world while showing respect for others’ beliefs and traditions.