What's wrong with evangelism?
You don't have to read much of the writings of early Friends to see that evangelism was an integral part of their life. Since "evangelism" is an overloaded term, let me explain what I am talking about. The word "evangelism" derives from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (EUANGELLION) which means "Good News". The word "gospel" means the same thing, coming from the Old English form of "good story/message". For Friends, the gospel was not simply a message because they understood by experience Paul's description of the gospel as "the power of God unto salvation". Preaching the gospel was Spirit-led, Spirit-filled preaching that awakened people to the Light of Christ within them - to turn them from darkness to light (a phrase from Paul that George Fox often quoted).
I would guess that many modern Friends are very uncomfortable with the idea of evangelism, and perhaps for a number of different reasons. If this does make you uncomfortable, why? Maybe you could ask yourself that and sit with it before reading further.
These are some of the potential objections that come to my mind:
I would like to hear of others. The reason I am bringing this up is to contrast it with our attitude towards the political process. By using the political process to do the things we think need doing, we are essentially imposing our will upon those who don't have enough votes. While one's religion is a matter of choice, and with Friends it has always been a matter of the individual making the choice to turn towards the Light, in the political arena, the minority doesn't really have a choice. The voice of the majority is backed by the law enforcement of the United States government (or whatever country you may be in). While I was at SAYMA last week, I heard Friends talking about our "window of opportunity" to get things done before the congressional elections start next year. I heard discussions about the effective ways to contact various government representatives, and about lobbying at the state level in addition to the national level. Why can't we also have discussions about opportunities to spread the Good News? Why don't we hear more statements like "many were convinced", as George Fox wrote numerous times in his journal?
Ceal and I had a long discussion about this one evening, and she asked me what someone could have said to me when I was 20 that would have reached me. I have to admit that I don't know. But, I also understand that it isn't the words themselves that are the important thing, but that they are spoken from the Spirit. Early Friends often spoke of their being a power behind their words, and I believe that power could have reached me, too.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.