Cette page web a été traduite en français. Appuyez sur FR en haut de la page pour accéder à la traduction.
Nous vous remercions de votre patience pendant que nous travaillons à la traduction de l'ensemble de notre site.

Only love

This paper is from the Church Planting Resource - Fall 2022 - A resource written by Norm Dyck, Mission Minister, Michel Monette, Catalyzer Minister and Fanosie Legesse, Intercultural Mission Minister.  You can download the complete resource or read individual articles online.

Michel Monette outsideMichel Monette, MCEC Catalyzer Minister - On Halloween of 1991, I was visited by the Holy Spirit who convinced me that Christ had given his life for me and that I could trust him with mine.

I joined a local church that quickly became my new family. At that time, I was on a great quest to belong. I had just left Sherbrooke, where my dreams of one day belonging to the local biker group disappeared with the move.

I had arrived in Montreal, my hometown, my heart beating in my chest. I was proud but also lonely. Even though my wife was already in my life, I was lonely. My family, friends, and aspirations were in Sherbrooke, and I was in Montreal. I was about to enter university, hoping that I would be accepted into a fraternity. But God had decided otherwise.

I learned how to evangelize, not just to share my faith, but more importantly, to share the life of Christ.

My membership in the church immediately became very important to me. I attended every meeting: Wednesday, Sunday and other days.
The brothers and sisters in that small assembly made me feel like I belonged to something bigger and with them I felt important. That small church was going through some turbulence and was in the process of moving. The Perseverance church, which was a member of the Mennonite Brethren of Quebec, was merging with its sister church in Ville Saint-Laurent. The merger was completed in April 1992, and in November of the same year, my wife and I were baptized.

The call to evangelism
It was in February 1993 that God confirmed I was an evangelist. At that time, I had no idea what the term meant but I was busy trying to find out. I read Alfred Kuen’s book “Ministries in the Church” and quickly realized that an evangelist was one of the five ministries that were designed to bring the body of Christ to its full stature. The role of the evangelist was not, according to Kuen, to go out into the world as a missionary to evangelize, but it was a local ministry to help the people of God know how to share the gospel with the people around them. That is when I got to work. I learned how to evangelize, not just to share my faith, but more importantly, to share the life of Christ. I did Lifestyle Evangelism, Four Steps to Christ, Explosive Evangelism and Alpha. I consumed anything that talked about evangelism and spoke God to anyone who would or would not listen.

I would take my Bible everywhere and everything I did was about God. I attended workplace prayer meetings at lunchtime, went to business lunches and invited friends and family to testimonial meals. I even invited the parish priest to come to a dinner party in the hope that he would be converted. Back then I had a rather limited and reductive vision of the Kingdom of God.

From evangelization to mission
By 1997, I had completed a certificate in theology and was convinced that the local church needed a unifying project, a project that would allow it to know that it was part of something bigger than itself, a project of direct participation in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. It was then that God sent me to an evangelism training: Explosive Evangelism. This training was designed to help the church evangelize and was aimed not just at evangelists or pastors, but at the whole church. The whole community embarked on the project. Welcome feasts, prayer partners, evangelistic teams - everyone was involved. I was excited and finally doing what God wanted me to do - helping the church know how to speak about God.

Newborn Christians needed more than Sunday morning meetings.

We did this for three years and it was exhilarating. The current pastor of St. Laurent Church is a direct result of that mission.

But something was missing. I became increasingly certain that something was missing. The Bible does not talk about going out to evangelize. It talks about making disciples. We were failing in our duties because we were picking up young believers and bringing them to church, where the pastor and church leaders were supposed to take care of them. That is where we lost our footing. The newborn Christians needed more than Sunday morning meetings. We had to decide whether to stop the evangelistic evenings to start Bible study meetings with the newcomers or to drop them. What had to happen happened. We lost everything. The newcomers were dropped and so was the program. I could see that something was missing.

Making disciples
In his book “Evangelizing According to the Master,” Robert E. Coleman invites us to share our lives with the men and women God sends our way. Evangelizing is not an exercise we do. It is a lifestyle. We do not go door to door announcing the gospel or hand out pamphlets and we do not seek out the crowds. No. Jesus spent three years of his life with 12 men and some women.
These three years of sharing served as a training school so that the disciples would be fit for service when he left.

Even today, many churches are still engaged in street evangelism: cold encounters that consist of talking to someone on the street without their having asked for our intervention. Jesus never did that kind of work. You might suggest that he sent the 12 and the 70 into the villages to announce that the Kingdom of God was near. Read carefully what Jesus asks of his disciples in Luke (10:1-11).

It is up to us to love without expecting anything in return.

He sends them out two by two. He asks them to depend completely on the mission. He sends them to the towns and villages that he will soon visit. He asks them to seek out those who are already open to receive peace and practice hospitality. He tells them to heal the sick. He does NOT ask them to go from house to house, nor to make sure that the people are converted. He does not lecture them about the benefits of the Kingdom of God or say that they will go to hell if they refuse. Evangelizing is about giving good news. When we evangelize, we often are the bearers of bad news.

Double agents
Today, the purpose of evangelism is to help people understand their need to get out of hell and to introduce them to the Kingdom of Light. In the case of Explosive Evangelism, we were asking diagnostic questions meant to start the conversation and offer an eternal diagnosis. Are you going to Heaven or Hell? In the case where someone receives the message and accepts the gift of eternal life, it is still good news. But in most cases, it was simply bad news. We were telling them that they would spend eternity in torment. We were undercover agents in the service of the enemy. Our efforts made the people further reject God and Christ. People began to tell us that God was a psychopath, fit to be locked up, and a sicko who asks his followers to forgive their enemies seventy-seven times seven, while tormenting his own in horrible suffering for eternity. How could we have fallen so low?

The People of peace
To find peace seekers, start with those around you, like neighbors and colleagues. A friend shared with me that one day, with his wife, he decided to give a Christmas gift to all the tenants in his building: a coffee mug with homemade hot chocolate and a small encouraging note mentioning that their neighbor in apartment x was praying for them. The friend left each mug at the front door on Christmas Eve. He warned his wife that the mugs might come back smashed and with insults, but they were willing to take the chance to make a good impression. “To love is to risk” he told me. To their surprise, they received thanks. This helped open discussions and one of their neighbors accepted the sacrifice of Christ and received the gift of eternal life.

Reconciliation BBQs
When we arrived in the neighbourhood in 2004, the very next summer, we got busy inviting our neighbors to a few BBQs and especially to a corn roast for Labour Day. With God’s help we have developed a small community that helps each other, warns each other, watches over each other, removes snow and invites each other over from time to time. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness. It is up to us to love without expecting anything in return. It is God who calls the church and establishes it. Our mission is to make disciples one person at a time, without an agenda or plan. Only love.