This past week our men’s pastor (and biker) Jim Gillespie challenged us in evangelism. He reminded us that the primary motivation for sharing Christ is not the need of the lost world, but because God is worthy of our witness. Our adoration for God and His glory offer sufficient motivation for our evangelism. With that in mind, here are some convictions I have about evangelism:
1. Men and women are lost until they receive salvation through Jesus. Therefore, we 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). Living witnesses are plan A, and God has not given us a plan B.
2. Many people are ready to respond to the gospel. Therefore, we evangelize consistently. Paul told Timothy to preach the word in season and out of season—or when we feel like it and when we don’t! Prior to coming to Southeastern I taught at Houston Baptist University. Before moving, I made an appointment with several students, including some whom I felt needed to hear the gospel. One was a young lady named Audra. I shared Christ with her. She did not immediately respond, so I gave her a gospel booklet, asking her to read it again.The first week after beginning my work at Southeastern, Audra wrote saying, “On August 9, I opened my heart to Christ. . . . A big thanks goes to you.” She even photo¬copied the tract to give it to another person who needed Christ. Audra needed someone to tell her how to be saved.
3. The Bible commands us to evangelize. Therefore, we evangelize obediently. Obedience matters to God. In our day of consumer Christianity focused on our needs, obedience has become low on the priority list of many believers.
4. Most believers want to witness but do not. Therefore, we evangelize purposefully. 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.
5. The gospel is GOOD NEWS — the greatest message we could ever tell. Therefore, we evangelize confidently. As a student in a Baptist university, I was discipled by a man named Curtis Tanner. 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,” he continued, “What is the best thing you can do for someone else?” The answer was obvious. 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.
6. We must rethink the way we understand and practice evangelism. Therefore we evangelize nissionally. A shift from an exclusively attractional-based evangelism to include missional-incarnational approache is needed to reach the masses who are not attending our churches.
7. We must understand the spirit of the times. Therefore, we evangelize holistically. Evangelism is less a technique and more a lifestyle, less a method and more a movement. I have seen people come to faith over the last few years doing regular church visitation and by having a meal with an unsaved friend. It’s not one or the other.
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. The idea that the key to the future is a new method that meets the times misses the point. We take the timeless message and communicate it in a timely manner. What are some of your convictions about evangelism?
This was adapted from my book Evangelism Handbook: Biblical, Spiritual, Intentional, Missional.