His name was Sam… His name was George… Her name was Betty… His name was John…His name was Mike… His name was Doug… and ultimately there was Mom and Dad. These are the names of those whom God used to plant the seeds of the gospel in my heart as a young boy. I am so thankful for each of these placed in my life as they each had a role and some more so than others. Who are the names in your life? Evangelism is about caring for people but ultimately about a Person – Jesus Christ.
Definition & Introduction
The word evangelism is a compound word meaning “messenger of good news”. It is the leading of others, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to an accurate understanding of the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary life and death and following resurrection, inviting others to repent, believe and enter into God’s kingdom by grace through faith. Others have notably summarized it as “nobodies exalting Somebody” or “one beggar telling another where to get bread”.
There are different forms of evangelism:
µ Personal Evangelism: This is born out of a conversation or even a relationship in sharing the gospel with another one-on-one.
µ Mass Evangelism: This is presenting the gospel to a large audience. This can be done through worship services, revivals/festivals, strategic events, and even street preaching. Technology has also increased these opportunities using literature, websites, video, chat forums, social networking, etc.
µ Servanthood Evangelism: This joins words with deeds in demonstrating the gospel through meeting a need, serving a person or group or performing random acts of kindness. The advantage of this is almost anyone can do it with little training and even little planning. However, if not combined with a genuine compassion for others and a genuine communication of the gospel it can be seen as gimmicky, or merely as a social charity. Examples include distributing water bottles, lightbulbs, batteries for fire alarms, car wash, clean up, oil changes for single moms or various other services to help benefit a community.
µ Ministry-Based Evangelism: This is much like the servanthood method but meets more ongoing needs (housing, food, medicine, even sports and other needs) and at times involves significant resources of trained volunteers, finances and networks.
One more point of introduction is a distinction between the command and the gift of evangelism. Some (many?) minimize the command to evangelize because they claim to not have the gift. Indeed, there is a distinction, however the command to evangelize is for all believers while the gift only enhances its effectiveness and perhaps extent through an individual. More will be said in the principles and practices below.
Principles & Practices
µ Evangelism is necessary for everyone. The Bible is clear that all humanity is unrighteous before God and in need of redemption. Two key passages on this are Romans 3 and Ephesians 2, showing humanity’s total depravity and sinfulness.
Dwight Moody used to picture every person he met with a huge “L” on their foreheads. He saw them as lost and unsaved until he communicated with them and found differently in witnessing with them.
µ Evangelism is expected/commanded for every believer. Jesus’ last words to His disciples are the marching orders for all believers.
Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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.”
Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
Luke 24:47 “the Christ suffered and on the third day rose from the dead, and repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem”
John 20:21 “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
µ Evangelism leads to discipleship. The goal of Christianity is not just to have converts or people whom have spiritual fire insurance from Hell. Jesus’ vision is to make catalysts and followers on a journey with a mission to multiply disciples in His kingdom.
John 15:8, 16 “By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.”
µ Evangelism is a discipline. Like every discipline examined in this series it takes an intentional commitment to experience growth. One must realize that evangelism too is a spiritual discipline needing practice, a process of matured growth and a strategy for accomplishment. A few helps are:
- Learn from those with the spiritual gift of evangelist (Ephesians 4:11). This comes naturally to some and we can learn from their example and help.
- Learn to prepare for evangelism (1Peter 3:15). This involves understanding how to develop conversations and lead them toward spiritual issues. It also greatly means knowing the gospel and how to communicate it so others can understand it.
- FIRM: Family – Interests – Religion – Message
- Intentional relationships: Invest – Invite – Incarnate
(Matthew 5:16; 2Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:5-6; 1Peter 2:9)
- Roman Road: 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-11
- John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:8-10
- Tracts: The Story (provided through SPBC)
- DONE: DO Nothing; DO Everything; DONE in Christ
- Testimony (see end page)
- Evangelism is not every THING but should be in EVERY thing. In other words, evangelism must be intentional to proclaim the gospel message; it’s not just a good deed, a kind act or a service. Whatever you are doing should find a way to incorporate the message of the gospel.
- This is especially true for a church. Ministries and events are not to be done just because they have always been done or because it is someone’s hobby. The purpose of everything in the church is to make disciples. Our church is taking steps to link all that we do for a strategic purpose: Loving God (worship); Loving Others (fellowship & evangelism); Leading Generations (discipleship)
- Allow relationships and conversations to be cultivated beyond witnessing encounters.
ð Why do some Christians not evangelize?
- Rejection: Realize it is not of you but Jesus (Matthew 25:40; 1Sam 8:7).
- Persecution: Realize the eternal perspective of life brings reward (Matt 5:11-12,10:21-25).
- Ignorance: Realize the Holy Spirit will provides words to share if you are faithful to speak (Matthew 10:19-20; Acts 3:6).
- Disobedience: Realize that true disciples will obey their Lord (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
ð What is successful evangelism? Is there a such thing as failed evangelism? Successful evangelism is sharing Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and trusting God with the results. There are no failed evangelism attempts if this is done. Every witness encounter should be seen as planting seeds for God to one day grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6-9 “Some planted, some watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
ð How do I know if God wants me to evangelize with a person; when is the right time? God places people in our path and allows relationships, both short and long-term, in effort to bring Him glory. Billy Hanks Jr. (w/ Billy Graham) said if you are with someone for longer than 3 minutes then that is likely an opportunity God has placed before you to share the gospel. God grants these divine appointments and we must take advantage of them (Philip in Acts 8).
Lastly in this discussion is to be mindful of the role of God’s sovereignty. It is God who draws people to Himself and opens eyes to see the beauty and truth of the gospel (John 6:44). In this context we must remember two parting applications:
- Believe. Believe that God loves people more than we do and wants them to come to salvation (John 6:40; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2Peter 3:9). When we lose sight of our faith and trust in a good and just God then we misunderstand the entire gospel and grace.
- Pray. Intertwined with our work to evangelize is the work to pray for the Spirit of God to awaken others to the gospel and to till the soil for fertile seed to be planted. Prayer is the means God uses to show our dependence upon Him and invite His movement in and through our efforts.
Sharing My Testimony (John 4:28-42)
Share your story
In John 4:29, 39 the woman simply shared what Jesus did for her. Jesus knew all her sins yet showed her compassion and grace. There is no sin too great that God cannot forgive or no sin too small that God overlooks.
In talking with people, share your story of where you were before Christ. The idea is to show that we are all sinners. However, remember not to glorify your sin but to show the vanity and emptiness of sin’s path. Then, begin pointing to the reality of God’s redemption and forgiveness.
As you share your story, there may be time for you also to listen. Listening to others brings a level of trust to the relationship. Listening is a time to grant grace not judgment; so be careful on your expressions and responses to what is said.
Focus on Jesus
In John 4:29 the Samaritan woman simply said, “Come, see a Man…” When we share our testimony the focus is not on ourselves, our sin or accomplishments. It should be on how Jesus revealed your need for Him and how Jesus saved you from that point of need. This is the time to explain the gospel of Jesus’ substitutionary life, death and resurrection. He lived the righteous life required of everyone and he paid the sin penalty of death for everyone. Showing His power and identity as God He resurrected. All those who turn from sin (repent) and trust in Jesus (faith) are saved. Lastly, be mindful to avoid churchy language, or if so then define and explain what you mean.
Notice also, that the woman left her water jar to invite others to Jesus. There may be things in our own life we need to leave behind in order to follow Jesus and bring others to him.
Allow people to respond
In John 4:39-42 we see that many others respond and come to faith in Jesus Christ. The woman shared her story by inviting people to Jesus, focused on Jesus and then allowed them to make their own decision. These people responded saying, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” They were eager to hear about Jesus that they sought to listen for more (4:40)!
Realize that many people do not receive Christ because no one asks them. Don’t be hesitant to ask! This can be done with a sort of challenge question that is non-threatening. It is not to be pressuring someone into a decision or pulling emotional strings; but meant to give opportunity for a direct response to the gospel. Example questions can be: “May I ask you a question? Is there any good reason why you could not receive Christ now?” “At this moment, what stands in the way of you trusting Jesus Christ for salvation?” “Would you like to pray and receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”
Remember, a individual’s response to the gospel is seldom to be received personally. Successful evangelism is sharing the gospel of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. Every witness encounter is a success in planting seeds allowing others to water and God to give the increase. And allow your relationships and friendships to go beyond witnessing encounters.
Fill in the space below. Each section will help you develop your salvation testimony. Please be ready to share this with the group next week. Perhaps God will give you an opportunity to share it with a friend this coming week as well.
ADMISSION – How did I know I needed a Savior? (When, where, who, how…)
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
BELIEF – Who is Jesus to me? How do you know this to be true?
Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
COMMIT – How am I living for God presently? How is God using me to serve Him and others?
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.