On Sunday night, the church I am interim, Calvary Baptist (Seymour, IN), looked at what it means to be a “Biblical Evangelist” according to Thabiti Anyabwile’s helpful study What is a Healthy Church Member? During our time together, I suggested five ways to live out a life of intentional evangelism. In addition to memorizing an evangelistic tract and /or a series verses that outlines the gospel, consider the following steps of towards evangelistic fervency:
1. Community Evangelism. Pray for a different ‘lost’ family member, friend, co-worker each day of the week. Then, invite someone to church each week. Imagine, under God, what your church would look like if every member of your household of faith took seriously these two practices–praying daily and inviting weekly. Coupled with the faithful preaching and teaching of the gospel at your church, this exercise could bear much, much fruit.
2. Spontaneous Evangelism. In Colossians 4:3, Paul says, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Paul not only preached boldly, he prayed dependently and recruited others to pray with him and for him, so that God would open doors for evangelistic witness. In my own life, earnest prayers like this have regularly been answered with God-ordained encounters to bear witness for Christ. The problem is not God’s faithfulness to answer such prayers, but my weakness to keep praying for more opportunities. May we learn to pray unceasinlgy with Paul for open doors to spontaneous evangelism.
3. Lifestyle Evangelism. The Great Commission instructs us that “as we go” (participle) we are to “make disciples” (imperative). Put in one word, evangelism should be our “lifestyle.” There are dozens of ways to do this. Let me suggest four: (1) live a life that leads to “Why”–as 1 Peter 3:15 suggests, live a life that causes others to ask you about the hope you have in Jesus; (2) get to know people by asking questions that will lead to more informed and more specific applications of the gospel, ask God to give you a heart for people and look for ways to interject Christ into daily conversation; (3) perform ‘strategic’ acts of kindness that will show the love of Christ and that instigate conversations about Jesus; and (4) commit yourself to being a regular and recruiting participant in your church’s evangelistic programs– don’t miss the joy of joining others in your church as they share Christ in your local context.
4. Thoughtful Evangelism. Growth in anything requires time, persistence, and studied contemplation. This is true for evangelism. So, if you are serious about wanting to grow as a biblical evangelist, let me suggest a handful of helpful resources
- Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is the first book I would recommend, as it provides an excellent discussion of what the gospel is and how to go about telling others the simple, and yet eternally signficant, message of forgiveness and hope.
- Robert Colemen, The Master Plan of Evangelism examines the life of Jesus and shows how the best evangelists are disciple-makers. This book has been formative in my understanding of ministry, especially in the idea of spiritual multiplication.
- J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is an excellent theological inquiry into the relationship between God’s sovereignty in salvation and man’s responsibility to share the gospel with all people.
5. Discipled Evangelism. Finally, there is no better way to grow as a “biblical evangelist” than to “do evangelism!” And there is no better way to do that then to find a friend or older member in your church and learn from them and with them. Timothy, Titus, Silas, and others co-labored with the Apostle Paul and learned first hand how to boldly share their faith, so too we should link arms with others in the church to grow in evangelism. This co-laboring strengthens relations within the body and maximizes the effectiveness of the church’s witness. If your church does not have such a ministry team, perhaps you, in coordination with your pastor, could help implement such an evangelistic unit.
In truth, evangelism is not something that we can do in the strength of our flesh. Most of us experience great feelings of defeat whenever we think of evangelism, and yet this is one of God’s clearest instructions for us, to go and make disciples, sharing the good news with all the nations. In fact, the Holy Spirit has been given to us for just such a ministry (Acts 1:8), and it is only as we join in what the Spirit of Christ is doing in the world that our joy is complete (cf. 1 John 1:1-4). So, this week, let me encouage you to take hold of one of these action steps and to go forward with boldness and conviction to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. You won’t be disappointed that you did.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss