In the scriptures, we do not see a clear evangelism “how to” for believers. But there seems to be a clear backdrop that the churches were evangelizing prolifically.
Yet I think most of us would feel that we don’t evangelize as often as we should. Most of us tend to be very hesitant to speak here. There are many reasons for this, it will probably always be the case. Tom Short, a campus preacher with our church association told me once that its a bit like swimming. How you are hesitant to jump in because the water is cold, but once you are in you get used to it, and can have a lot of fun!
“Yet I suspect the average Christian’s hesitancy to share their faith has little to do with timidity or lack of courage. Many believers won’t hesitate to explain why they support a particular politician or cause, even unpopular ones. Why, then, do they become tongue-tied when the topic turns to why they align themselves with the Creator of the universe?” – Joe Carter
I also don’t want to discount the spiritual battle here either.
I don’t know that I am a shining example of prolific personal evangelism, but from time to time as opportunity has been there, I have shared the Gospel with strangers, friends, and family members, without fear. This was not always the case. For the first 6-8 years of my Christian life I was terrified of the prospect.
I wanted to share with you today a few things that I have learned that have gotten me over most of the mental hurdles in opening my mouth when opportunity presents itself.
1. Keep it simple
1 Corinthians 1:21 (ESV)
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
I wonder if sometimes we hesitate to share the Gospel because we lock up trying to think of what it is we are supposed to share. But the message is exceedingly simple at its core, and if you are a Christian, you know everything you need to know to share the Gospel with anyone you come across.
If you in fact do not know what you need to share with someone, then you don’t know The Gospel, and are not a Christian, and we need to have a different conversation. And I really do wonder this about many of you in the room.
Going out to preach the Gospel is going out to announce The historical and factual announcement that: Jesus is Lord and Savior. And if you know the Gospel story, this gives you all the memory hooks you need to share with someone.
This is the center of the story. There are other ways of summarizing it, but this is one I’ve found helpful. Think of it as your center of balance in any evangelistic, and apologetic conversation you are ever in. Any time you don’t know what to say, come back to this simple thought, and set back out from there. It is your true North in evangelism.
Jesus – who is He?
- Son of God the Father (creator!)
- God (trinity)
What did He do?
- Life – sinless
- Death – (Savior!)
- on the cross,
- in our place
- for our sin (rebellion against the creator)
- Resurrection – proof
- Hundreds of witnesses
- Authorities could not disprove
- Reign & Return (Lord!)
- King, ruler, master, in control
- His rules are law, to be obeyed
Simple response: Repent and be baptized
Acts 2:36–38 (ESV)
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Don’t worry about a particular prayer. Don’t worry about saying some right magic words. If they believe the simple message you deliver that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and ask “so now what?”, the response is that they are to repent and be baptized.
That means, they are to turn from their life of sin (doing life their way, and not God’s way), and join in with the fellowship of the local church.
You don’t have to be an expert.
You are not required to answer every question thrown at you in an a conversation about Jesus. In fact, an openness to questions, and a true humility to say “I don’t know” can often aid the relationship surrounding an evangelistic encounter.
It’s not about you.
Remember that you are making an announcement about a historical event and person, and this doesn’t depend on your personal experience or it “working for you” to make it true.
Your personal experience and narrative can be a helpful way to relate the relevance of the Gospel, evangelism is most effective in relationship, but it doesn’t in any way prove or disprove the truth of the message. The resurrection does that.
2. Remember you are merely a messenger
Another thing I have found extremely freeing in the work of evangelism is to remember that I am merely the messenger. I am not the savior. I cannot save anyone. Only the Holy Spirit does that. My part is to faithfully “deliver the mail.”
The Gospel is not a sales pitch. We are not after "closing the deal” with some sort of a “decision for Christ.” We are not trying to get them to pray a prayer or “ask Jesus into their heart” whatever that means. This is not a debate. We are not out to win an argument.
We are here with the announcement that Jesus is Lord and Savior!
2 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV)
2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
We are simply here to “deliver the mail” and are not responsible for the response. The response is in God’s hands.
This is important. Our goal is not “sealing the deal.” For our children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, neighbors, coworkers, we are not after a one-time profession! We are after a life of faith!
Sharing the Gospel is not a one-time event, it ought to be a daily occurrence with any who will hear us, including, and maybe especially our brothers and sisters and children in the church.
3. Remember you are an ambassador
2 Corinthians 5:17–21 (ESV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Conduct your life as an ambassador.
Pray for Jesus’s eyes and heart toward the people around you.
Matthew 9:36–38 (ESV)
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Love and serve them quietly and humbly.
2 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV)
5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
4. Expect rejection (and regeneration!)
Successful and effective evangelism will result in rejection from time to time.
John 15:18–19 (ESV)
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
2 Corinthians 2:14–16 (ESV)
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
You might get to "see someone saved" – (hear what you are saying though…)
God brings this about, in His time and His place.
How deep the father's love for us. Verse 3
I will not boast in anything
No gifts no power no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
Remember that we are Christ’s ambassadors, faithful messengers of a simple message, who joyfully endure rejection and ridicule in the hopes of witnessing The Holy Spirit perform the miracle of the new birth of a brother or sister.
- Do you have a clear conscience about the frequency with which you proclaim the Gospel?
- If so, what fuels you to do so? What tools and mindsets have you found helpful in this work?
- If not, what are some things that cause you to hesitate?
Spend the most time on this:
Have several volunteers articulate the Gospel in a simple way, specifically include details (after articulating the Gospel) of how this message changed your life (either for the first time, or in new ways later in your Christian walk.)
Pray: for more opportunities, for boldness, for understanding, and for a renewed zeal for evangelism in Stonebrook.