I'd like to make a couple of observations about the feelings of guilt that most Christians have regarding evangelism. Having done full time evangelism\evangelism training ministry for about 3 1\2 years and having been in full time Christian ministry for the most part of 15 years, I feel like I'm qualified to speak to this issue. These observations aren't based on any theological degrees, just human observation.
My first and main observation is that the conscience of the Christian is keenly aware of his need to share the Gospel with the lost. The best proof of this is the physical reactions of guilt that Christians have when they hear a message that has to do with evangelism. Whenever a speaker or preacher talks about evangelism, I like to look around the room and observe the reactions of the listeners to the message. Almost without exception, the listeners react in much the same way that lost sinners react when they are taken through the Ten Commandments. They hang their heads, their brows are knit in concern, sometimes there are tears, sometimes there is anger, and almost always there are looks of resolve on their faces. They must be thinking, "I will do better. I WILL witness to my ____________ (fill in the blank: neighbor, co-worker, spouse, friend, etc.) this week." Chances are, these resolutions are left undone because the same cycle is repeated the next time someone speaks on evangelism.
As someone who does evangelism on a regular basis, I experience the "fall-out" of this guilt on a personal level. Recently, a friend of mine from my church who has come out with me to do evangelism in the past confided that he had been avoiding me because every time he sees me he feels guilty because he has not been evangelizing. I must confess that at first, I didn't understand this. I'm not a mean guy. I don't try to use guilt to motivate people to evangelize in my church. In fact, I think I've been careful NOT to use guilt as a motivator. However, the fact that I do evangelize somehow works on the conscience of my friend. He knows that my life is pretty well lived for the sake of the Gospel; I do full time evangelism ministry. Somehow the fact that he has not been as consistent evangelizing rebukes him every time he sees me. I'm not sure whether to view this as good or bad.
As I began to think about my friend, I have to wonder if there are others who feel the same way. I suspect that there are others. In a way, this is sad because I'm not just a one-dimensional person. Have I given the impression that I am one-dimensional? After all, I read, sell used books on the internet, teach adult Sunday School, have a great family, like to fish, etc.
In the end, I think that this is a matter of the conscience. Not because I have used guilt to motivate or inspire. It is a matter of the conscience because of the fact that the Law, perfectly summed up, is that we should love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength and then love our neighbors as ourselves. Romans 2:14-15 says that this Law is written on our hearts and our consciences bear witness of its truth. The command to evangelize has been given throughout the Gospels. When believers refuse to obey this command, they break the first command. They don't love God; the proof is they don't obey. And they don't love their neighbors enough to share the Gospel with them. And their conscience bears witness that they are guilty.
So, I have come to understand that it's not me, it's them. I will continue to be gracious and continue to do what I know I am supposed to do as an unprofitable servant. They, in turn, will continue to feel guilt until they repent and start sharing the Gospel. They don't need to do it in conjunction with my ministry or on the streets. If they start sharing it with their friends, families, neighbors and co-workers, their consciences will be assuaged and they will have confidence before God and men. May the Lord raise up laborers for the harvest.