Every Christian needs to ask, “How can God use me evangelistically throughout my entire life, not just in a short two- or three-year spurt after my conversion?”
How many Christians do you know who used to evangelize? They can proudly point to a time in their lives when person after person came to Christ through their efforts, then for some reason they just stopped.
God wants us to lead people to faith in Christ until we take our last breaths. He wants us to be more effective today than yesterday, ￼￼￼￼￼￼more effective this year than last, more effective in our sixties and seventies than we were in our twenties and thirties.
At the very end of our lives we want to be able to say with the apostle Paul that we are “…being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for [our] departure is near” (2 Tim. 4:6). We left no evangelistic opportunity wasted. No excuses. No regrets.
I think one of the keys to making that happen is staying intellectually hungry.
Create Your Own M.A. Program
A few years ago I started what I call my very own “MA Program.” Since many M.A. degrees are completed in a year, I started this hobby where I study something completely foreign to me for an entire year.
The first year I studied country music. To the absolute shock of everyone who knew me, I made myself leave the radio locked on the country station for one entire year. And, man, it was tough, at least initially. The good news is that I survived, and gained a little twang in my singing voice.
Why do that? One reason is that I’ve always wanted to fully understand and appreciate a genre of music with which I had no experience. The other reason is that I wanted to be able to have conversations with people who listen to 92.5 WXTU, a popular country station in our area. Now I’m familiar with artists like Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney. I know what the CMT awards are. And I’d like to take a trip to Nashville at some point. Best of all, if you’re a country-music- listening-cowboy-boot-wearing non-Christian, I’m ready for you. I would type “Yee Haw” right now, but that would be a little freaky.
One year for my own personal MA program I studied European history and geography, and then Lisa and I took a trip for our twentieth ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼anniversary to visit the museums and major cultural sites of Italy, Switzerland, France, and England.
Another year for my MA program I studied Greek history and mythology. God willing, at some point in my life when I can afford it, I’m going to “finish” the course by taking a trip with Lisa to tour Greece and its beautiful islands.
One year I studied Native American history. We all know the tragic story, but I wanted to understand what really happened—the key figures, geography, culture, and political factors. After a year of study, our family spent some time in the Black Hills Forest on the way back from a Yellowstone vacation. Hiking the land stolen from the Lakota people had a profound impact on me. I’ve never talked with Native American friends the same way after that year.
Why Stay Intellectually Fresh
I go through all this trouble each year for one reason: I believe my best evangelistic years are ahead of me. I truly believe that God is going to strategically place people in my life that will need me ten, twenty, thirty, and hopefully forty years from now, and I want to be ready.
Years from now I believe I could have a conversation where something I learned in one of my MA programs will come up in conversation, and a nonbeliever will tilt his head and say, “No kidding. I thought I was the only one interested in these kinds of things.” You never know.
In the meantime, I’m staying fresh. I’m staying interested. I’m trying to be the kind of person that a non-Christian would have a beer with, even though I don’t drink. In light of this, I believe staying interested and growing is one of the most important evangelistic activities in which I can engage.
My Next M.A. Program
My next MA program is sitting in my garage. My friend let me borrow his telescope, and this telescope isn’t the kind you get your ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼kid for Christmas. It’s literally five feet high, a full eighteen inches thick, and looks like a missile getting ready to launch.
Since I was eight years old and accidentally found the rings of Saturn in my childhood telescope, I’ve been interested in astronomy. So I’m making time to throw myself into reading astronomy books, stargazing in the backyard, and attending stargazing events so I can start up conversations with professional astronomers in our area. I may even take a class at our local college.
Do you have an M.A. program going on right now?