Evangelizing isn’t always comfortable, especially when it’s new. That’s why it’s a blessing to come to the Chapel and gain personal experience articulating your faith. “When you voice things yourself and you say things out loud, that’s first of all how you learn,” said Addam, who came to the Chapel for the second time this year. “And also how you know how much you understand.” When you share the Gospel, it doesn’t just benefit the hearer: it benefits the speaker. Christians need to be hearing about Jesus too, and continually be reminded of his sacrifice. But just because something is good for someone doesn’t mean it will come easily. Going out on the boardwalk and sharing the Good News with those walking by is intimidating. It might even be intimidating in any context.
“I wrestled a lot,” said Tom, who has served four summers at the Chapel. His first summer, he had a lot to think about. “Does informal evangelism or spontaneous evangelism actually work? I had to wrestle through that. And the conclusion I came to was: it’s not necessarily what we in our own wisdom and our own strength think will work—it’s what God in his wisdom has said will work. If you’re sharing the word of God, if you’re walking in the Spirit, you’ll be amazed what God can do in a conversation. I’ve had people cry, I’ve had people fall in my arms, I’ve had people say ‘No one’s ever told me this before.’ And people have called on the name of the Lord. It’s not because I’m something special. It’s because the Word of God is what it says it is. It’s living and active.”
God is sovereign. He doesn’t need us to evangelize to draw people unto himself, but he commands us to evangelize. It’s a privilege and a blessing to testify of the God who saves. But even if you know you should be sharing your faith, you might be scared. You might not know how, or you might not even know how to recognize opportunities. The Boardwalk Chapel trains you in evangelism: at the Chapel, you’ll go out and talk to strangers about the Cross. It’s intimidating, but growth is intimidating.
“I’m an introvert, and so I’m pretty quiet,” said Hannah, who came for the third year in a row with her youth group. “I keep coming back because the first year that I came, I was really shy and I was like, ‘I don’t know about this.’ I have grown a lot. It’s really, really important to step out of your comfort zone and be pushed, cause that’s where God grows you. Coming here, and taking time out of your summer to saturate yourself in God’s Word, and with godly people who are glorifying him and sharing the Gospel—I think it’s really awesome. It can definitely be hard at times, but there’s so much growth and so much God wants to do in your life, and so I think this is an amazing opportunity where God can do that.God has given me a gift to evangelize that I didn’t even know I had.”
Not everyone is gifted in evangelism. Not everyone has the same callings. But God can use your broken efforts. And at the Chapel, you’ll be encouraged to see others evangelize even as you watch and learn. “I’ve been really, really encouraged, because I’ve gotten to see peoples’ gifts on display for the kingdom,” said Rev. Ajalon Church, who has been bringing and leading church groups to the Chapel for years. “That is a real encouragement to me. Watching the staff that I’ve gone out with share the Gospel—it really excites me. I don’t need to do it myself, I don’t consider myself great at evangelism. I could just stand there and listen to them, because it’s so encouraging to me that they’re doing it.”
Growing sometimes happens in new situations and new environments. People often come to the Chapel with a youth group or on staff, hoping to grow, but not quite sure of what to expect. So what can you expect?
“Expect to get out of your comfort zone, expect to be pushed, but not in a pressured sort of way. In a way that is healthy. In a way that I believe is very spiritual,” said Addam. “The Lord and people pushing you to speak the Gospel. And of course it comes from personal conviction as well. I would say expect to do something that you really haven’t ever done before. To speak the Gospel to people on the boardwalk will broaden and strengthen and deepen your understanding of the Bible.”
We should continually be growing. Growing in grace, growing closer to the Lord, growing in love and in the fruit of the Spirit. Whether that’s at the Chapel or in your home environment, let us consistently be pressing onward, relying not on our own strength but on the grace of God. We are being sanctified. Sometimes that sanctification is painful, sometimes it’s uncomfortable—but it’s always a good thing. We are called to demonstrate the love of Christ to the world, to live every moment for God, and while we fall dismally short, God shows us grace. Our growth won’t be something to be proud of. Our sanctification happens only by the Spirit living in us, and we may be disheartened by the presence of sin in our lives. We’re weak; we need God to strengthen us. Growth is something to be thankful for and humbled by.