A good friend once told me (and several other people) that 90 percent of evangelism was “just showing up.” He was being slightly facetious, but only slightly. He was usually trying to get a rise out of “the professionals” involved in outreach ministries and missions. He was a missionary at the time he said this, so no one openly disagreed.
Speaking more generally than only evangelism, Jerry Bridges in The Discipline of Grace says that “God’s work does not make our effort unnecessary but rather makes it effective.” That, to me, strikes the balance between the point my friend was making and the people whom he offended.
In the chapter “Dependent Discipline,” Bridges talks about a discipline for grace that both actively involves us but is totally dependent upon God. It’s not a passive thing; we just don’t sit back and “let grace happen.” Instead, we train ourselves, much like Paul “exhorted Timothy to train himself, to be godly (I Timothy 4:7).” Bridges says that for “training” Paul used a word that originally referred to the training of young athletes for sports competitions but had come to include mental and moral training. “Paul used it to refer to spiritual training.”
Bridges goes on the explain that discipline is not necessarily a reliance on human effort. We don’t simply “turn it over to the Lord” and let Him figure out how to bring discipline to our lives. We have to be actively engaged as well, but not to the extent that we try to do it all on our own.
We are, Bridges says, to pursue holiness (and grace) with all the intensity that the word “pursue implies.”
It is more than “just showing up.” But we do have to show up in the first place.