What Is Evangelism?
“Go therefor and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
That just about sums up my knowledge on what we’ve been commissioned to do. When I start my deep study of Acts, I hope to gain more insight, but at this point, I don’t really know how to evangelize. Do you? What is evangelism?
I can tell you what worked for me: Patient insistence.
In each phase of my life, I always had at least one patiently insistent friend. These were the friends who invited me to church or Bible study. These were the friends who were always willing to discuss Christianity whenever I had questions. These were the people who lived liked Christians, inspiring me to be more like them.
Of course, this topic relates to the moment of salvation. How does one know they’re saved? I think some do have moments that are defined, but I don’t think every person must have some defining moment of salvation. If anything, the most recognizable evidence of salvation is a life change. For some, it’s more subtle. Others, that change can be dramatic. But every instance of salvation usually is followed by a committed change to an old life. How different? Depends on the life. A lustful drug addict my turn from drugs and prostitution, thereby changing what might very well be everything about his life. But the young man raised to be Christian may simply offer more time to the church or change his social group.
We’ll have to discuss what salvation looks like from a life change perspective at another time, but this tangent is only to articulate that from before I was saved and throughout my walk in the faith, I’ve had those friends.
I tend to want to mimic this. I’ve had the pleasure of doing some formal evangelism with my church. To be clear it was one time, but I intend to do more. I just didn’t want readers to think I’m in front of a store or on a street corner every weekend. But is that the only way to evangelize? I think not.
The very way a Christian lives (See Chapter 2) can be a form of evangelism. When you watch a guy who always seems content and fulfilled, you kind of wonder what that guy knows that you don’t. When someone says, “How do you do it?” You respond, “Jesus Christ.”
What do people see you doing? What do you talk to people about?
I aspire to be a man who is clearly seeking Christ. I enjoy having the chance to talk about how I make decisions, because there’s usually a Bible reference coming. Do I wander around everywhere just randomly quoting scripture? No, but I bring up the Rule Book in a lot of situations.
Does that mean we shouldn’t be on street corners and in front of stores? Why wouldn’t we, but the techniques we use matter. Literature and a polite invitation to talk are great. If you have to stand in a person’s way, that person clearly isn’t interested in talking. If you have to shout, that person clearly isn’t interested in listening. If that person only wants to shout at you, that person early isn’t interested in listening. All the most major influences on my growth as a Christian are people I consider soft spoken. I’m not saying they aren’t strong people (at least one of those I’m thinking about is a woman). But they weren’t shouters or ranters
I currently am, and this is an area in which I hope to grow. No, I’m not shouting at people about God, I’m just a loud guy. I shout about the game. I shout about the movie. I shout about work.
These people, however, typically aren’t known for yelling or anything. They just speak the truth.
We should absolutely be proclaiming Christ, and while we should seek opportunities to do this in our communities, we should also seek to do this in how we live and act.
For our panel: How do you evangelize? What obstacles should we be ready to face as we seek to evangelize? How do we overcome those obstacles? What scripture do you go to most when evangelizing? Why? Is evangelism the end of the task? If there is more, what comes next? Would you care to share a favorite evangelism moment or the moment you heard the call to Christ?