January 17, 2018

Reconsidering Your Approach to Evangelism

Thomas Overmiller

God entrusts the ministry of evangelism to every believer. It is the way that he has chosen to spread the message of life and redemption to a lost and dying world. Yet how many believers faithfully participate in this crucial endeavor? Do you? In Matthew 9:37, Jesus taught that the great challenge of evangelism is recruiting people to do the work. He said, “The laborers are few.” Nevertheless, God commands us to proclaim the good news of salvation in Christ. Therefore, you should be committed to compassionate evangelism, without discrimination, through your life, to your community and to the world.

You should be committed to compassionate evangelism, without discrimination, through your life, to your community and to the world.

To encourage this participation, I would like to offer a simple definition of evangelism. Then I hope to correct some wrong perspectives that believers may subtly embrace, followed by excuses we often make for why we don’t get involved. Then I would offer some good reasons for getting involved and a basic strategy for doing so.

A Definition

Though the word evangelism is a specialized word that Christians use, it means something very simple and very exciting. It means to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, which is the best news ever given. As such, it is not the following things:

  • It is not sharing your testimony.
  • It is not social action and good deeds.
  • It is not using apologetics to defend your faith.
  • It is not getting decisions and leading people in a prayer.

Though some of these things may occur in your evangelism efforts, they are not evangelism itself. Evangelism focuses on something very specific, spreading the good news about Jesus Christ to the people who need to hear.

Some Wrong Perspectives

Perhaps we fail to spread the news about Jesus Christ because we have accepted some wrong perspectives about evangelism. Here are some examples:

  • The gospel is a spiel or presentation I must give all at once or not at all.
  • The gospel is a negative message.
  • People do not want to hear about the gospel.
  • When a person asks questions, it shows that a he or she is closed to the gospel.
  • To share the gospel, I need to answer any questions a person may ask.
  • If a person does not immediately believe, then he or she is closed to the gospel.
  • Evangelism is a church activity, program, or event.
  • Evangelism is something that happens on special occasions.

If you believe these or other wrong perspectives about evangelism, then you will fail to spread the news about Jesus Christ in a faithful way.

Some Right Perspectives

In contrast to these wrong perspectives, consider some right perspectives instead:

  • The gospel is a set of essential truths that I may give in conversations over time. I do not have to present the entire gospel message the first time I attempt to witness to someone.
  • The gospel is a positive message. After all, it is good news! Though is raises awareness of our sinful condition, it provides the complete solution that everyone needs.
  • God is preparing the hearts of people to hear the gospel. Many say no, but the more you share the news, the more people you discover who are genuinely interested. God is preparing their hearts to hear what you have to say.
  • Questions can show that a person is open to the gospel. Sometimes people ask questions for wrong reasons, but often people ask questions because they want true answers. When a person asks you sincere questions, then praise God for someone who’s interested enough to have a conversation.
  • To share the gospel, I need to answer questions about the gospel. The more questions you are prepared to answer, the better. But don’t let a lack of knowledge about difficult and obscure theological details prevent you from sharing the news about Jesus. If you know Jesus Christ as Savior, then you know the essential elements of the gospel message. That’s all you need to know to evangelize. If you don’t know the answer to another kind of question, then admit you don’t know or find someone who does. Either way, focus on the gospel.
  • If a person does not immediately believe, then he or she may be open later. Don’t allow one conversation to discourage you from future conversations. Just like a farmer raising crops in a field, evangelism requires that you plant a lot a seeds and water those seeds over time. Eventually you will see the harvest. Be faithful to talk about the gospel whenever you can, a little bit here and there. Doing that on a regular basis will lead to more true conversions over time.
  • Evangelism is an individual activity with many participants. God often uses multiple conversations with a variety of Christians to guide a lost person down the road to salvation. Who knows? When you share some of the news about Jesus with a person in your life, you might be the first person to do so, or the second, or the third. Sometimes you will be the one who leads them to conversion, but usually not. Be glad to be a part of the process, and thank God for everyone else who is also involved.
  • Evangelism is something that may happen on any occasion. It is not limited to special church events or weekly door-to-door routines. It is something that may happen at any time throughout the week. Be sensitive to what God is doing and be prepared to say something (though maybe not everything) about the gospel at home, at school, at work, or at play. Be on call 24/7 and you will discover amazing opportunities on a regular basis.

Do these perspectives encourage you to be more active in spreading the news about Jesus? I hope they do, and I hope that they help you overcome some common excuses that we make for staying quiet.

Common Excuses

We offer many reasons for not evangelizing. Here are some common examples:

  • “Evangelism is illegal.” This is not the case in the United States, but it certainly is the case elsewhere in the world, and it was the case for apostles in Jerusalem, too. But they still evangelized, and many responded in faith.
  • “My school or employer forbids it.” While this may be true, there is nothing preventing you from sharing the news about Jesus with your classmates and colleagues during lunch break or spending time with them after hours in your personal time. Ask for wisdom to overcome this challenge and God will provide it.
  • “I don’t want to impose my beliefs on someone else.” It is not rude to evangelize. You are sharing good news, after all. And furthermore, you are not forcing anyone to change his or her mind. You are spreading the news, not coercing a decision.
  • “I will lose friends.” If you lose a friend because you introduced him or her to the best news ever, then you should be okay with that. And if you don’t share the good news about Jesus with your friend, then you are a bad friend anyway. The friendliest thing you can do is share the good news about Jesus to your friends. Just be sure to do it in love, and not in an unfriendly way.
  • “I don’t have time.” Perhaps you don’t have time to spend 2-3 hours passing out gospel tracts on a weekly basis, but that’s okay because that’s not the primary means of evangelism anyway. Evangelism occurs here a little and there a little throughout the course of your life, as you interact with the people you rub shoulders with in the flow of your busy schedule. In all that you are doing, stay alert. Perhaps God has given you a busy schedule to place you into contact with a variety of people throughout the week who need to hear the news about Jesus?
  • “I don’t know what to say.” You only need to know the gospel, and chances are – if you know Jesus Christ as Savior – then you know the gospel. You may need to brush up on some details and memorize a few Bible verses, but that’s not hard to do. The more you talk about Jesus, the more you will discover that God is faithful to give you the wisdom that you need. Review the gospel and start talking about it whenever you can. You’ll probably do just fine.
  • “I am shy.” Well, join the club, because I am, too. Most people are shy, but this is usually a polite way of saying, “I am selfish.” Don’t be the kind of Christian who has the good news about Jesus but refuses to share it.

Do you identify with any of these excuses? Do you have any more to offer? Whatever the case, there are some very good reasons to spread the news about Jesus.

Good Motivations

Any of these five motivations are reason enough to spread the good news about Jesus to those who need to hear. Pause to consider each one and ask whether they motivate you to tell others about Christ.

  • Love for God. Do you love God enough to share the message of his love with others? This is the greatest reason of all to spread the news about Jesus to the world.
  • Love for people. Do you love people the way that God loves them? Do you have compassion for their sin? Do you see them as sheep without a shepherd, enslaved to sin, harassed by Satan, and dying every day?
  • Awareness of the message. When you think about the message of the gospel, you will find that the message itself leads you to spread the news to others. It is a message filled with giving, going, and expressing the goodness of God to people who need it.
  • Gratitude to God. When you consider the undeserved and eternal salvation that God has provide to you through Christ, then thankfulness alone should motivate you to share this message to others.
  • Obedience to God. If nothing else, then you should evangelize because Jesus himself told you to do so. He said, “Go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19), and, “Be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). He is Lord and God, and so you should do as he says.

Do these reasons motivate you to be more diligent to spread the news about Jesus? If so, then allow me to suggest ten simple thoughts that you can embrace as a basic strategy for being a faithful witness.

A Basic Strategy

To be a faithful witness, I encourage you to do the following things:

  1. Think about the gospel regularly.
  2. Live a life that reflects the truth of the gospel.
  3. Consider your spheres of life: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues / co-workers / clients, and acquaintances.
  4. Pray by name for the people in these spheres of your life.
  5. Show genuine interest in the questions, needs, situations, and interests of the people around you.
  6. Plan times together with the people in your life, apart from your normal activities.
  7. Bring your Christian and non-Christian relationships together, as when Matthew invited his unsaved friends and Jesus to a party that he hosted in his house.
  8. Engage in meaningful conversations at any time, always looking for an opportunity to say something related to the gospel, even though you will usually not be able to say everything all at once.
  9. Answer questions thoughtfully and ask thoughtful questions, too; show that you are genuinely listening, and not just looking for an opportunity to speak your mind.
  10. Respond to the promptings of God and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

At Faith Baptist Church, our motto is “loving God, making disciples.” And we like to say that our mission as a church is “to demonstrate our love for God in the Queens Borough, leading people of all ages to become joyful followers of Jesus.” I hope that these thoughts will encourage us to take personal steps towards fulfilling this mission. I also hope that they will encourage you to do the same, even if you are somewhere other than the Queens Borough and a member of a church other than Faith Baptist. May God strengthen you to that end.


Thomas Overmiller serves as pastor for Faith Baptist Church in Corona, NY and blogs at Shepherd Thoughts. This article first appeared at Shepherd Thoughts, used here with permission.

Speak Your Mind

*


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.