December 17, 2017

Evangelism and Discipleship as a Way of LIFE

Paul Warf

Today a new way of thinking has emerged. Our world has undergone a cultural earthquake due to the rise of postmodern culture and ideas. Most postmoderns are not going to be impressed with only our verbal presentations of the gospel. What is needed is a people who live out the gospel in transparent, authentic, life-changing, relationships.

To meet this challenge we have developed a two-phase strategy for evangelism that reflects this “way of life” approach. We use two acronyms. The first is “NOW”: No Opportunity Wasted to reach out to your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. The second is “NOW for LIFE”: No Opportunity Wasted for Loving your neighbor, Interceding through prayer, Fellowshipping for relationships, and Evangelizing for eternity. This second phase further defined this culture of evangelism we want in our church.

In our postmodern society with all its “isms” (humanism, relativism, secularism, narcissism, etc.), how can we effectively carry out this ministry of reconciliation? Evangelism and discipleship must become a way of LIFE!

In Matthew 22:35–40 a lawyer came to Jesus, tempting Him with the question, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus surprised him by summing up all the commandments into two, basically, “Love God and love your neighbor.” We make evangelism and discipleship a way of life by loving people. He was brokenhearted on many occasions as He looked over the crowds of people (Matt. 9:36). Evangelism and discipleship begins when we “love God” and then “love people.” How can we love like Jesus loved? It will not be by self-effort! It will be possible only by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

A second part of carrying out this ministry of reconciliation is by interceding through prayer. Again Jesus set the example for us. Do you realize how much time Jesus spent in prayer?

In Mark 1 we see Jesus having a very demanding, draining, and long day. Jesus healed many that were sick of different diseases and cast out many devils. His ministry had continued late into the night. Yet early the next morning, Jesus got up, left the house, and went to pray. After feeding the 5000 in Matthew 14, Jesus prays. In Luke 6 He spent a whole night in prayer before choosing the twelve apostles. Evangelism and discipleship begins with a love for people, but must be followed by fervent prayer for those “whom the god of this world hath blinded” (2 Cor. 4:4).

What is your prayer life like? Our evangelism and discipleship must be bathed in prayer. Do we really want revival? Then we must be interceding through prayer.

A third part of carrying out this “ministry of reconciliation” is fellowshipping for relationships. Our culture today demands that we break out of our “safe havens” and rub shoulders with the lost world. No longer can we stay within the walls of our churches and homes. We must build relationships with those who do not look and act like we do. Jesus was a friend of sinners!

In Mark 2:15–17 Jesus developed relationships with publicans and sinners. The religious crowd saw Him and offered criticism. As always, Jesus had an answer for His critics: “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” If we are going to be effective in today’s culture, we must get over our fear of contamination and rejection and be willing to spend time with the lost and build relationships. We need to be a “friend of sinners” as Jesus was.

The fourth part of carrying out this “ministry of reconciliation” is evangelizing for eternity. Having times that are set aside to visit are important to help emphasize the importance of evangelism and give evangelism a structure. Students at International Baptist College are trained in evangelism through door-to-door outreach. Every semester we see people trust Christ as Savior. However, that method cannot be the only way we reach people. Evangelizing for eternity is a commitment to building relationships with unbelievers, which in the context of friendships, leads to a new birth, which culminates in a commitment to building them up in their faith, and equipping them to win and build others.

Dr. Singleton, our founder, once said, “Rather than retreat from society, what is needed is a relevant Fundamentalism that is Biblically based, retains its evangelistic fervor, is true to its Fundamentalist heritage, and works out its theology for a comprehensive world-life view” (Fundamentalism, p. 33). His words are still true today.

Paul Warf is Executive Assistant to the Pastor at Tri-City Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May / June 2006. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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