How NOT to evangelize

From a BBC News story on an American Airlines flight:

"The pilot, whose name was not released, asked Christians on Friday's flight to raise their hands.

He then suggested non-Christians talk to the Christians about their faith.

He went on to say that "everyone who doesn't have their hand raised is crazy", passenger Amanda Nelligan told CBS news.

"He continued to say, 'Well, you have a choice: you can make this trip worthwhile, or you can sit back, read a book and watch the movie'," she said.

The pilot also told passengers he would be available for discussion at the end of the flight.

Rayford Steele might be proud, but I think it more likely that this pilot turned people away from Christ rather than made any new disciples for the kingdom.

Although it is important to the Christian to spread the Good News of Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection, I don't think Christ meant us to witness in places where people had no choice but to listen.

In one of the Gospels, Jesus says "Behold, I stand at the door and knock", not "Behold, I come into your living room with a megaphone and say that you're crazy." As Jesus gave us a choice, I think we Christians must follow his example and give other people a chance to walk away from our message. This can't be done at 30,000 feet.

One of my favorite St. Francis quotes, possibly fictitious is:

"Preach always, if necessary, use words!"

Or to paraphrase the old hymn, "They shall know we are Christians by our love, not by the strength of our PA system."

This attitude, along with my professional ethic keeps me from trying to win people to Christ through words while at work. I think people have to feel that the library is safe, neutral territory and I'm not sure that unasked for verbal witnessing at work would ever fit into that.

If someone were to ask me about my faith at work, I think I would talk about it briefly if it were a patron, and more so if it was a coworker.

I owe my current faith to coworkers at a law firm who never preached to me on the job, but were always kind, thoughtful people who were patient with everybody. I wanted what they had. Turned out most of them were Catholic Christians. Once I asked them how they got through the day and what their faith was like, they shared with me. If they'd tried that before I asked them, I might have run to another workplace.

Something to think about. Sorry for the length.


You made many good points, Daniel. As a Pagan in a majority Christian community and workplace, I know I really don't appreciate unwanted attempts to convert me or encourage me to attend church especially from my coworkers. I hold my religious and spiritual beliefs as strongly and as firmly as they do. I certainly don't try to convert people to my beliefs (I will discuss it but only if asked); I just wish others would be as considerate.


Hi slashgirl,Thanks for posting. I know (or THINK I know) the term "Pagan" encompasses a lot of spiritual traditions. Are any of the ones you familiar with missionary?As soon as I write this, I'm sure someone will chime in with an another example, but I don't believe that there any mainstream religions besides Christianity and Islam that send out missionaries.Besides small cults like Krishna folks. For the purpose of missionary work, I'm counting Mormons as Christians, because that is their self identification.

You are correct, Daniel. An example, not all pagans are wiccans but all wiccans are pagan. (Sort of like not all Christians are Catholics, but all Catholics are Christian). I can't speak for all Pagan traditions but any I've read (Wiccans, Druids, Celtic trads, Norse trads) about don't do missionary work. Many, like Christians and others, do volunteer in their community.

I can really only speak from my pov, but I think the lack of conversion fervor stems from the fact that many pagans feel that folks should be allowed to follow their own path. Paganism has a long history of persecution; many who have chosen to come to Paganism grew up in strict religious homes. I guess that sort of turns us off of trying to sway people to our point of view. We explain our beliefs, but we don't feel that other people should be coerced into following them, that if the pagan way is the right way for you, you'll find your way. I do realise coercion isn't as much a factor in Christian missionary work these days...

I was fortunate to be brought up in a household where whatever belief system I chose to follow was accepted. While my mother is Christian, she isn't a church goer and she believes in stuff like reincarnation. She felt that my siblings and I should be allowed to find our own paths.

Oh, one group you forgot who do "missionary" work : Jehovah's Witnesses. I probably shouldn't say this, cus it'll make them line up outside my door, but we haven't had any of them visit lately...


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