Seven Core Convictions about Evangelism

In I Thessalonians 1:5 Paul says several things about how the gospel came to the Thessalonians: it came not only in word (it came in word, but more); in power, with the Holy Spirit, and with CONVICTION. Paul completed his thought by noting how these Thessalonians saw how they lived among them. But I want to focus on the word “conviction.” Paul had undeniable convictions. What are your convictions regarding evangelism? Here are seven of mine:

1.  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). Immanuel Kant once declared that David Hume, the skeptic, awoke him from his dogmatic slumber. Surely a skeptical world, living in fear, often without hope, should awaken us from our apathy!

2. 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! In 1995, I had the privilege of joining the faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prior to that I taught at Houston Baptist University. Before leaving the university, 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. This was new to her, although she had gone to church services a few times. I gave her a gospel booklet, asking her to read it again.The first week after beginning my work at Southeastern, I got a letter from Audra. She wrote, “On August 9, I opened my heart to Christ. . . . A big thanks goes to you.” She even photo­copied the tract to give it to another person who needed Christ. This point is that Audra needed someone to tell her how to be saved. The reason many people aren’t Christians is that no one has told them how to be saved.

3. Believers are commanded by the Bible to evangelize. Therefore, we must evangelize obediently. Billy Graham has said the number one reason we should witness is because God says we should. There are certainly other motives for our witness, but 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.

4. Most believers want to witness but do not. Therefore, we must evangelize purposefully. I have been in a couple thousand churches over the past decades. 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 the greatest message we could ever tell. Therefore, we must evangelize confidently. As a university student, I was discipled by a man named Curtis. 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.

6. We must rethink the way we understand and practice evangelism. Therefore we must evangelize missionally. We have to see America as the mission field it is and share Christ from the posture of a missionary in a land that does not know Christ. That’s a large reason I wrote the Sharing Jesus book.

7. 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. 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. Einstein was right when he said insanity is doing the same thing over and over only to expect different results. We must take the timeless message and communicate it in a timely manner. Do you really believe the greatest thing you can tell another person is the good news about Jesus? Then tell someone!

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness Day 15: A Place to Land for Evangelism

“Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.” Archimedes.

I want to offer you a landing place for your evangelism. Actually, my publisher B&H Academic created it, and I’m grateful. You can search the page yourself here, but I want to comment about it with some screen shots.

The page is a one-stop location full of resources related to evangelism flowing from my Sharing Jesus book. Here’s an overview of some of the features:

This is the main home page for the book at B&H Academic. You can also find it by simply searching www.sharingJesusbook.com. PLEASE NOTE: There is a place to share your story about how this resource has helped you in your witness. Or, you can just post a story about sharing Jesus. It will encourage others!

Here are some very kind comments from others about the book. My pal D.A. Horton is planting a church in LA. Rebecca Pippert is a hero to me–her book Out of the Saltshaker had a tremendous impact on me in seminary. And my friend Ed Stetzer heads the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton and is a guru of all things missional. I’m grateful for these kind words.

You can “try before you buy” the book here. Also, when you place an order, if you want to order in bulk you can get copies for only $5.00 each for orders of 20 or more! That. is. amazing. I know student pastors who are giving this to high school grads, pastors giving to their staff and key leaders, church planting leaders giving one to all their planters, and businessmen giving them to employees, and other examples.

I’m very excited about this page. My dear friend Brian Upshaw and the North Carolina Baptist State Convention along with help from the North American Mission Board recorded a series of eight videos where I teach through each chapter in about 20 minutes or so. These are FREE for you at the site. I already know pastors and others in different states who are using these to lead training through the book over an eight week study. I’m so grateful for this.

ALSO: there are two videos of role-playing. I role play leading a young man named Eli to Christ, and two of our young ladies also role play a conversation. Note: these are not polished, but are real-life convos, the kind I have regularly with young professionals and others. There’s also a video interview with my dear friend Jonathan Dodson of City Life Church in Austin.

I hope you will take advantage of these amazing resources available to you, and I hope you wil join the EIGHT WEEK CHALLENGE and tell us your stories.

I’m praying for an evangelism movement in our time. Perhaps this can help.

 

 

Eight Weeks of Effective Witness Day 3: Love Fishing as Much as Catching

 

Last night I ate delicious, juicy, deep friend catfish for supper. Not just any catfish; Michelle and I caught these only this week. Okay, she caught most of them. But I cleaned all of them! We love fishing. Well, Michelle loves fishing. I love catching.

Michelle can sit on our boat dock for five plus hours to fish. I can do that on rare occasions, but I’m good with a couple hours or so. You see, I love to catch fish, but Michelle just loves to fish.

Jesus called his disciples to become fishers of men. It’s no surprise: the men he called were professional fishermen. He took men who loved to fish for fish and guess what? They soon loved to fish for men. When it comes to sharing Jesus, we should love fishing as much as catching. What do I mean?

  1. We love being with people. Fishermen love being on the water, being in the place where the fish are. If you don’t love people, being a witness is not your problem! Too many believers act toward the lost the way people do toward smelly, fresh fish: curl their nose, sneer, and get as far as away as fast as possible. But Jesus calls us to love fishing, i.e. to love being among people who need him.
  2. We don’t mind the stuff that comes with fishing. Tangled lines, spilled tackle boxes, getting caught with a hook, and sunburn (I know, I got baked this week), all these come with the territory. To enjoy the fish we just ate, we had to invest in fishing gear, create time on the calendar, and get our hands dirty. Those catfish are slimy, and if you aren’t careful they will stab you with their fins. Evangelism is messy, because people are messy. If you want a tidy little Christianity, you won’t have much to do with sharing Jesus. Or with Jesus, for that matter.
  3. We enjoy the work that comes with the catch. Cleaning catfish is work. Skinning them takes some strength, and its really messy. But my it’s worth it! Helping new believers grow is equally messy. It’s easier to get a group of believers who look alike, talk alike, and like the same things to get together and do some spiritual navel-gazing. But there’s not a lot of growth there. I’m learning new things all the time about fishing. And, the more I fish with Michelle, the more I like fishing, not just catching.
  4. We enjoy the benefits that come with fishing. This week we watched a gorgeous bald eagle fly around while we fished. We’ve seen otters, a beaver, turkeys, deer, a great blue heron, an osprey, snakes and turtles, and this week, a fox. In a much greater way, when we share Jesus regularly we get the benefits of growing spiritually, watching our faith stretched, and experiencing God at work in our daily lives.

You don’t have to like fishing for fish, or even catching fish. But become a fisher of men, and see God at work in you.

 

Want to learn more? Check out Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}