How should a Christian view Evangelism?

Introduction

During a recent class on personal evangelism, I’ve had my concepts of evangelism challenged. There have been plenty of areas in which my understanding of evangelism as a whole has grown and been modified to better understand how God would call me to move and act in this world. By reviewing each week of the class, my hope is to show the various ways in which God has impacted me and convicted me to change so as best to glorify Him. Through this class parts of my lifestyle have been convicted through this class to incorporate more aspects and be more intentional about the evangelism and the aspects of how that will work in my own personal life as well as that of my family.

Listening

The first week of the class was really good to start seeing how I use my life as an evangelistic ministry and especially areas in which I need to grow. For whatever reason, listening tends to be one of the weakest aspects of my life whether it is to my wife or to those in my family. I have spent the greater part of my life so far learning, so there is an urge to be very vocal about what I do know. While reading William Fay’s book, one of the hardest principles for me to implement, while also being one of the most convicting was his ‘hmm principle’[1] which simply is to ask the questions, and allow the people to respond without interrupting or saying anything different. This provided me with an excellent opportunity to learn and implement this with multiple people. It also caused me to think back to past witnessing efforts such as with my mom who asked me at one point ‘How do you know I’m wrong in my beliefs, you don’t even know what I believe.” This was a question that convicted me then, and it resonates here in this class.

The principle of listening will definitely be one of the best things I take from this class as a practical measure to implement in my own life. While the hmmm principle from Fay is a great tool while talking to people about their faith and sharing our own, however, the principle of listening goes much deeper than that. It will be through listening to my neighbor talk about her boyfriend and their relationship or through listening to the waiter at the restaurant that the skill of listening will be best implemented. It will be incredibly useful in relationships with believers as well so as to encourage and help to equip those around me to be even better at sharing Jesus with those people in their life as part of the equipping of the saints the church is called to do.

Testimony

This may be the area of class that I was already the most familiar with. Due to my past classes as well as the background I’ve had with my churches, having my testimony available has been a key component in my life. While most of my information has remained the same over the years, I definitely resonated with Dr. Wheeler during the video lecture about teaching about your testimony when he talked about being careful not to glorify our past before Christ and more importantly to make sure to emphasize what God is doing currently as well as how God impacts our lives so as not to glorify our past mistakes.[2] Through this part, I get to look back on my life in two parts. Due to a time where I knew God, I’m able to share my testimony in two parts, first as a person who had no real knowledge of God, and then again as despite having been saved I’m able to relate to a time of backsliding and running from God despite knowing Him already. This class really helped me to get an understanding of how both parts of my testimony can help people who don’t know God. The primary reason this section of the class was important to me was through the ability to take comfort in God during our challenging times.

Taking solace in God really plays out in the recovery testimony for me as I am going through many of the trials right now. Due to the fact that it is currently going on, I’m able to really reach out and minister to those who are hurting now and the complications we’ve been having with our soon to be born daughter have opened doors I never expected. This can be seen when I start talking to someone and it seems as though God brings people into your life for you to minister to who are going through similar situations and our joy and dedication to the value of life impact even our doctor’s understanding of what it means to be a Christian and despite multiple issues be able to have the joy of the Lord.

Servanthood

We look at the various attitudes in the church and it seems that many people would say they agree with the concept of servanthood in principle, but this is likely the largest disconnect from reality.  Most people, myself included at times, want to think that if I were called to be a servant to someone, I’d do it, but the reality is we want to be served which is illustrated by a routine desire to do things such as eat out where we are served our food and don’t have to do the work. While these things aren’t necessarily bad, there has risen a sense of entitlement whereby many people think we should be served. The reality though is that Christians ought to be the servants of all. We have nothing more than what God has given us, and His desire is for us to serve others thereby serving Him.

In this class, the biggest things were the servant evangelism projects which primarily got me up and moving. These helped me to get out of a semi-stagnant walk so that I may be able to glorify God and serve my neighbors. Through the examples built in this class, I’m working on making changes to the things my family does on a daily basis to be more servant minded in everything I do, especially with respect to my neighbors. Through ideas of random acts of kindness and other aspects of serving my neighbors, I’ll be able to make a greater impact in the lives of those around me for Christ.

Personal

One aspect of evangelism often overlooked is the nature of how it needs to be personal. Christ didn’t call people to witness only to big groups of people and do the things that people like Billy Graham, D.L. Moody and others achieved, but rather God has called us to follow the example of personal one on one evangelism since that is how most people will ultimately come to Christ. “A significant part of evangelism in a postmodern context is building credible relationships with those to whom you are attempting to communicate the message of Christ”[3] There is a very famous quote about people in our current culture that is very apt for describing how we need to actually know and care for those around us. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In an age where people are more connected to their technology (such as smartphones and music players) showing a personal level of connection goes a long way to showing people that you care about them as an individual and opens doors to share Christ.

Gospel Conversations

For us to have a lasting impact, the conversations we have need to be focused on eternity. The key here is to keep everything we do focused on the one true God and how better to do this than to have a conversation with someone with the focus on the gospel. One thing that helped me in this section of class is to think “how is this going to be perceived in eternity?” With this as my focus, the gospel becomes a living topic of discussion and starts to fit into everything we do, think and say. Therefore, when we are having a conversation with someone its easy to think in the terms of “what does the Bible say about this topic and how will that relate to the gospel?” Is this specific topic something we ought not talk about or something that would be able to be built upon and encouraged through the gospel? Ultimately, what does Jesus say about this topic and how can we work the gospel into the topic at hand.

With that mindset, it is easy to start talking about the gospel and all the ways in which we can be affected toward greater concern for the lost. However, the biggest thing will be to have a genuine relationship of God. As Dave Early & Ben Gutierrez remind us, “what you do for God is only a reflection of the relationship you have with God.”[4] This is the key thing with all of our conversations and how no matter what the topic of conversation is, God does have something to say on the topic, and if we have a great relationship with God it will overflow into our daily lives.

Spiritual Warfare

When we do everything that in “The Old Testament clearly assumes that something profoundly sinister has entered God’s good creation and now perpetually threatens the world…almost everything that Jesus and the early church are about is colored by the central conviction that the world is caught in the crossfire of a cosmic battle.”[5] This is definitely something we as Christians need to take into account and be careful to think of when considering everything. Much of the spiritual warfare we will experience has to do with getting people out of our comfort zones and overcoming fears and actually do the work of spiritual evangelism. We have to realize that ‘in the matter of witnessing, it’s necessary for God to push us out of our comfort zones.”[6] This is one of the most important things we can do for taking care of our mission to reach the world. The easiest way to overcome the spiritual warfare is simply to obey. We do this by redefining the success from winning someone to Christ to being obedient and sharing scripture. Ultimately, our goal of sharing Jesus is to “avoid an argument and to help the person get into the Scriptures.”[7] When we do this, we let God fight the spiritual battles for us and to be prepared through prayer on a daily basis with more of an emphasis on asking God to help me see the spiritual warfare happening around me and how to overcome the spiritual warfare.

Family

This is the section of the class has been a great inspiration to me as it relates to my current stage in life. With being fairly newly married (2 years) this section has caused me to think, “how are me and my wife sharing the gospel?” The answer to that is not very well. We do the standard Christian things such as attend church, teach in the Sunday school and serve in the café at church during some of the services each week. However, we don’t do very much evangelism to bring people to church from those who wouldn’t otherwise be attending. We do have our own devotions, and this has given me an example for how family worship “should be a time where the entire family seeks to hear from God through His Word.”[8]

Thanks to this class, I’ll be doing a few things differently for my family as I figure out how to incorporate the compassion and evangelistic components of our faith into a general family outreach. I’m luckily in a position where I am going to be able to teach my daughter from birth how to share the gospel and through example teach her the importance of living out evangelism through daily living. After talking to my wife we’ve decided to continue with the servant evangelism that we’ve been practicing and continue that every year with all of the neighbors in the area and make sure what we started here won’t go to waste. Therefore, doing things like repairing fences around the neighborhood, preparing cold drinks for free for the neighborhood, and any number of other things to minister to those in the neighborhood. Doing this will help me pass on the value and importance of evangelism to my soon to be born daughter and lead my family in the way the Lord would have me go.

Methodology

This last section of the course really gets me thinking of the different ways of apologetics. There are definitely multiple ways to evangelize one’s community, and this class has given me an opportunity to practice a few of them, and while these are excellent methods to evangelize such as through servant evangelism, personal service for neighbors, and then there are additional resources for evangelism as well. There are many different resources that are available for Christians to learn how to better evangelize their neighbors. There are many different types of evangelism depicted throughout the class such as one verse evangelism, gotlife.org, thewayofthemaster.com, 4truth.net, the cardboard testimonies, and all sorts of different witnessing approaches. None of these are perfect methods of evangelism since there is no one ‘silver bullet’ that will convince everyone to come to Christ. However, through a combination of all of our resources, we can increase the likelihood and effectiveness of how we can be used for Christ. These are great resources and will help me build upon what has been established in the past. Through things like the Truth Project[9], which helps to establish a basis for absolute truth which will let us have an answer for the questions which are presented to us when people ask about our faith and why we are doing things.

One big aspect that needs to be challenged is the assumption of “The question that has dominated much of American evangelicalism over the last several decades is: “What works?” Success is measured and defended based upon effectiveness and efficiency.”[10] Therefore, eliminating this thought to go back to a more simplistic definition of success the key will be to get people into scripture and let the Holy Spirit work on their hearts. Doing this will result in a myriad of methods, but all of them can be great to use to reach the lost around me.

Conclusion

Through this class on evangelism, I’ve learned many lessons that I can take and apply to my life. Through various methods of servant evangelism, the methods employed by William Fay and his book on sharing Jesus without fear, and ultimately letting myself be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit I’ll be able to take all the methods of evangelism used in this class to build upon the various methods I’ve used in the past to be able to give an answer to anyone who would ask why my life is different and giving me an option to share Jesus with them. This will be able to be done through not only my own individual life, but also using that as a model to impact the families of those around us as well as pass the torch of Christ to my soon to be born daughter and any other children I may be lucky enough to have.

Bibliography

Earley, Dave and Ben Gutierrez. Ministry Is: How to Serve Jesus with Passion & Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing. 2010.

Early, Dave & David Wheeler. Evangelism Is…How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing. 2010.

Fay, William. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group. 1999.

Livermore, David. Serving with Eyes Wide Open. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 2006.

McRaney, Will. The Art of Personal Evanglism. Nashville: B&H Academic. 2003.

Pipes and Lee. Family to Family. United States of America: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. 1999.

Ried, Alvin. Introduction to Evangelism. Nashville: B&H Publising. 1998.

The Truth Project. Produced by Focus on the Family. 2006.

Winter, Ralph. Perspectives On the World Christian Movement. Pasadena: William Carey Library. 2009.

Wheeler, David. “Teaching About your Testimony” Presentation in EVAN 525 Contemporary Evangelism. October 2013


[1] Fay, William. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group. 1999. 33.

[2] Wheeler, David. “Teaching About your Testimony” Presentation in EVAN 525 Contemporary Evangelism. October 2013

[3] McRaney, Will. The Art of Personal Evanglism. Nashville: B&H Academic. 2003. 65

[4] Earley and Gutierrez. Ministry Is: How to Serve Jesus with Passion & Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing. 2010. 77.

[5] Winter, Ralph. Perspectives On the World Christian Movement. Pasadena: William Carey Library. 2009. 100.

[6] Ried, Alvin. Introduction to Evangelism. Nashville: B&H Publising. 1998. 189.

[7] Early, Dave & David Wheeler. Evangelism Is…How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing. 2010. 254

[8] Pipes and Lee. Family to Family. United States of America: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. 1999. 61.

[9] The Truth Project. Produced by Focus on the Family. 2006.

[10] Livermore, David. Serving with Eyes Wide Open. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 2006. 62.


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