Missional Margin: Too Busy Not to Evangelize? (Part 1)

Twenty years ago, Bill Hybels wrote a book entitled Too Busy Not To Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God.  Over one million copies of this book has been sold to a bustling people reminding them that they needed to cultivate a prayer life by slowing down to spend time with God (ironically, they apparently had enough time to read his book!).  Hybels’ book is a part of a growing corpus of literature challenging Christians to develop a more spiritually disciplined life, and for that, we should all be grateful.  Certainly we could all be more disciplined to pray and slow down to spend more time with God.

During this summer, I have been teaching on what I have called “everyday evangelism.”  At the beginning of the summer, I addressed the reasons why we do not evangelize.  Along with fear of rejection, perhaps the greatest reason why we do not evangelize as we should is simply because we are too busy.  Hybels recognized twenty years ago that we needed to slow down to be with God, and I am recognizing today that we need to slow down to be with the lost.

While staying at a hotel earlier this year, I took a long look at this door hanger.  The more I looked at it, the more I realized it was something that could not only be found on the front door of my room, but as a billboard to my life.  “Please do not disturb.” No thank you.  I don’t want to be bothered by you.  Has anyone informed you that it’s my life?  I have got things to do, places to go, more important people to meet (people like me).  You are an interruption not welcomed, a nuisance to my already overly stressed schedule.  Please just leave me alone and stay out of the way.

I know that sounds harsh and a bit overdone, but you get my point.  For the most part, this commentary could be said of our lives.  This door hanger could be hung around our necks.  The more important we think we are, the less time we will have for people, especially people who are not like us.  The busier we become, the less we think of the lives, hurts, and needs of people around us–you know, the people we glance at and then look the other way.  Whether intentional or accidental, the agenda of our lives is dictated by matters of urgency and prioritized by things most important to us.  The result is that little if anything is left over.  After all is said and done, we simply hang up the sign that says, “Please do not disturb.”

I believe it is our desire to be “Great Commission Christians.”  We want to be on mission for God.  We want to see sinners saved.  But let’s face it: if we are going to be more involved in the mission of God, if we are going to participate in the work of evangelism, then some things will have to change.  Those of us who are too busy not to evangelize need to throw away our door hangers and put up the open and welcome sign.  We need to practice personal hospitality which says to a broken world, “You’re welcome here.  Please come and sit a while.” The first step for us is to repent of our me-centeredness and get on board with God’s program so that it governs our lives.  Is this not what “seek first the kingdom of God” is about?  The kingdom of God should be top priority in our lives, period.

There was a time when Jesus was asked about what loving God and loving your neighbor looked like.  Jesus responded by telling a story of three men who encountered a beaten, hurting man on the street.  Two of them were deeply committed religious leaders.  They thought of themselves really important.  They, religiously speaking, had it going on–the position, the prestige, the spiritual performances, etc.  But both these men, having seen the hurting man, intentionally took a detour to avoid such an encounter.  It was below them to stoop down.  It was beyond them to change their plans.  But the story transitions to the third figure.  A half-breed Samaritan, despised, rejected, and ignored by most in the upstanding Jewish culture.  As the most unlikely and religiously unqualified person of the three, you would think that he would have no part in this hurting man either.  But he had one thing the other two didn’t have–compassion.  He had a heart that was open.  He had time to give.  He had a life that welcomed broken people.  As a result, he did what these two other men did not and could not do.  He showed mercy and loved his neighbor.

Jesus tells us to go and do likewise, but how many times do we find ourselves like the priest and Levite looking for a detour because we have determined other things to be more important?  Indeed, we miss out on the mission of God because our mission (or minutia) takes precedence.  We don’t love our neighbor because we don’t welcome them.  It is disturbing to us.  And we don’t welcome them because we are simply too busy.

In the following post, I will address this a little more, in particular what I am calling missional margin.  Jesus had it.  Paul had it.  And so should we.

Explore posts in the same categories: Evangelism, Gospel, Missional

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

16 Comments on “Missional Margin: Too Busy Not to Evangelize? (Part 1)”

  1. Christopher Lake Says:

    Thank you for this helpful, convicting post, Timmy. (Then again, in God’s economy, isn’t “convicting” always “helpful, ” because of God’s kindness to us in conviction? ) Lord, help me not just to read and assent to these admonitions, but to *apply* them! I look forward to the next post.

  2. D.L. Kane Says:

    Excellent Post! God is clearly placing things on your heart that we all need to hear (over, and over and over again). Thanks for caring enough and finding the time 🙂 to put your thoughts into words–they will be used to benefit all who read them.

  3. Christopher,

    Yes, conviction is evidence of God’s kindness. We would neither know or desire to be more like Christ apart from His Spirit at work in us. May He continue to mold us and wean us away from ourselves!


    Thanks brother. It’s great to hear from you (been a while, no?)!

  4. Bruce Ashford Says:

    Timmy, thank you for a great post. Very convicting. Hope to meet you sometime. Nathan Finn says hi.

  5. Dr. Ashford,

    Thanks for commenting, and more importantly, for keeping Nathan in line. I am really enjoying all the work you guys are doing at Between The Times. The substance and scholarship for current Baptist life and issues has been refreshing to read and prayerfully a necessary reorientation around the gospel and Great Commission for Southern Baptists today.

  6. […] challenges brothers and sisters in Christ to slow down and evangelize. The <a href=”here “>whole article is convicting. This is the sentence that got me. The more important we […]

  7. Kelly Says:

    Timmy, you are always at your best when you are talking about evangelism . . . I remember those good ol’ UPS days!


  8. Bill Blair Says:

    Good thoughts! I recognized this in myself over the course of this year. For me, it is not so much being busy as it is not wanting to be bothered. I want to evangelize, but I found myself not really wanting to invest a few minutes of converstion into a person’s life.

    I am working to repent of this. When I see opportunities for conversation I take a breath and remind myself not to be selfish and move in to spend some time with somebody. I find it much easier and natural to be still and know God than it is to be still and get to know people.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  9. […] Brister challenges brothers and sisters in Christ to slow down and evangelize. The whole article, “Too Busy Not to Evangelize?”, is convicting. This is the sentence that got me. The more important we think we are, the less time […]

  10. Josh Reed Says:

    Wow… i’ll send you the bill for my wheelchair since you smashed all ten toes with this one. With a family of 5, joining local church, full-time student at SEBTS the “time for others” can be put on the backburner real quick. Thank you for this post… what irony it would be to be a good student in the class, and a horrible one in the theatre of His glory. We have been blessed to be a blessing…

  11. Camel Rider Says:

    Great post Timmy,
    I’m currently serving overseas with the IMB and the sad thing is that we struggle with the same thing here. I see so many of us get so concerned with learning language and building our ministry “platorms” that we don’t actually have relationships with those we live among. If we do we only relate to those we’re doing projects or work with. So much of what we do feels fake and contrived because we always have an agenda in mind.

    I’m desperately trying to break this trend in my own life and allow organic relationships to develop among natural affinity lines….like I did when I lived in the US. The concept of the Professional Christian is just as alive here as in the US and it’s difficult to break out of the mold and do ministry as Jesus did….relationally.
    Camel Rider

  12. […] Too Busy Not to Evangelize? […]

  13. Let me second Camel Rider. Even on the mission field we need to be reminded that it’s not about us. Timmy, you said:

    “I don’t want to be bothered by you. Has anyone informed you that it’s my life? I have got things to do, places to go, more important people to meet (people like me). You are an interruption not welcomed, a nuisance to my already overly stressed schedule. Please just leave me alone and stay out of the way.

    “I know that sounds harsh and a bit overdone”

    No, I think it’s spot on – not overdone a bit. We wouldn’t generally admit it, and may not know ourselves well enough to think we’re rally this bad, but I think it’s a pretty accurate assessment of almost everyone’s poor attitude. I’m reminded that even Jesus faced this among His own disciples. Mark 10:35ff

  14. […] >> Read Missional Margin: Too Busy Not to Evangelize? (Part 1) […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: