Yes, it’s the new year, when we give half-hearted resolutions we don’t really plan to keep. I get it.
In the face of such “resolutions” I want to offer an alternative: encouragement. Each day in the month of January I will post one of 31 days of encouragement in evangelism. What if this year you experienced more confidence, more joy, and more fruit in your witness? What if you saw your walk with Christ experience a form of MiracleGrow as sharing your faith like never before gave you the gospel equivalent of a bumper crop of spiritual growth?
I want to encourage you: give me 10 minutes of each day in January. Read these posts the next 31 days and prayerfully put some of what you read into practice. No promise-breaking, no guilt-tripping, just taking a little time to read and to grow.
Okay, here goes. Day one. The best place to start is with core convictions. Here are eight I consider vital if we will be effective in our witness. How we live each day demonstrates our deepest convictions.
- Men and women are without hope until they receive salvation through Jesus. Therefore, we must evangelize urgently. People apart from Christ are lost (Luke 15), dead in sins (Eph. 2:1), under sin (Rom. 3:9), and under condemnation (John 3:18). I know, this conviction doesn’t match the spirit of the times. I’m grateful God has done something about this through Jesus! Do you believe this? Do you believe this enough to do something? Do you believe God can use someone just like you to do something about this?
- Many people are ready to respond to the gospel. Therefore, we must evangelize regularly. Paul told Timothy to preach the word in season and out of season—or when we feel like it and when we don’t! The reason many people aren’t Christians is that no one has told them how to be saved. Tell someone this week.
- Believers are commanded by Jesus to evangelize. Therefore, we must evangelize obediently. Billy Graham has said the number one reason we should witness is because God says we should. We should not ignore this simple truth. Obedience matters to God. In this day of “consumer Christianity” which focuses on meeting our needs, obedience has become low on the priority list of many believers.
- Most believers want to witness but do not. Therefore, we must evangelize purposefully. I have been in hundreds of churches over the past decade. I am amazed at the number of believers who want to witness, who want to make a difference, who long for their lives to matter. They are afraid, or do not know how, or have been too busy doing good things to participate in the best thing—winning people to Christ. This is precisely why I wrote the book Sharing Jesus (Without Freaking Out).
- The gospel is the greatest message we could ever tell. Therefore, we must evangelize confidently. As a student in a Baptist university, I was discipled by a Presbyterian. One day he asked me a simple question that changed my life. “Alvin,” he said, “what is the best thing that ever happened to you?” “The day I was saved,” I heartily replied, with my Sunday school smile. “Then, Alvin,” he continued, “what is the best thing you can do for someone else?” The answer was obvious. Yet I was immediately embarrassed at it because I knew my life did not reflect the joy of introducing others to the Jesus whom I knew so well. Almost four decades later I’m much more confident in God and thus far more effective in my witness.
- We must rethink the way we understand and practice evangelism. Therefore we must evangelize missionally and conversationally. If we keep doing what we are doing we will keep getting the results we are getting, and we are not reaching young adults and the next generation well. Engaging people in evangelistic conversations out in the community where we work and live is vital today.
- We must recover an understanding of evangelism and discipleship that sees them less as one of two options to choose and more as a process we embrace. Therefore, we must evangelize completely. We don’t just want to reach the lost; we want to make disciples who grow and share Christ and make disciples as well. We don’t want decisions, we want disciples. We don’t want converts, we want radical Christ-followers.
- We must understand the spirit of the times. Therefore, we must evangelize holistically. Evangelism is less a technique and more a lifestyle, less a method and more a movement. The Western Church has been in decline for longer than we would like to admit. The notion that we should simply do what we have been doing, only better or with more passion, must be rejected. On the other hand, the idea that the key to the future is a new method that meets the times misses the point. Separating evangelism from the life of the believer in a compartmentalizing manner must not happen. We must always be growing and learning so we can take the timeless message and communicate it in a timely manner.
I hope this year you will live out of your convictions, grounded in the Word, with a deep passion for honoring Jesus.