Evangelism - Part 2
Evangelism is not easy, as I said in a recent blog post. And it is still true. But it is also still true that we are called to attempt this difficult task (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). The aim of this blog post is to give you a few categories to think about different types of evangelism and a few tools for your tool-belts. We have a job to do, so here we go.
Personal evangelism is perhaps the way of sharing your faith that you are most familiar and comfortable with. What I mean by personal evangelism is simply sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people in your everyday life. This refers to the first conversation about Jesus with that neighbour across the fence, and the fiftieth conversation about Christ with your mom or your brother. This is your day in and day out witnessing efforts with your co-workers, neighbours, friends and family.
So how are you doing with that? This is the most important way that we evangelize the lost. Because if you are not an evangelist at home, or in the neighbourhood, why would you go to the streets or the mission-field and try to be there what you are not at home? It is important that we are Christians through and through, in every corner of our lives. And our neighbours and friends should know this about us. As Jesus said:
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…let your light shine before others…" (Matthew 5:13-16)
What is Jesus saying here? Be salty and bright. Both images give us the idea of distinctness. Distinct in the world. Light not dark. Salty not bland. This is why personal evangelism needs to be a given in the life of every believer. Of course you are sharing the gospel with your unbelieving friends, family, and neighbours – it is so much of who you are, you cannot help yourself. You keep shining Christ everywhere, you keep adding a Christian flavour to things.
So let us seek to do this well. We should heed the warning against losing our saltiness. We should heed the warning to not cover the lamp under a basket. Let us be salty and bright.
Church evangelism is one of the simplest and easiest ways to share Christ with others – except perhaps for the preacher, it's a little harder on him. But all the Christian needs to do is invite unbelievers to church. "Come to church, come hear the gospel preached", you say.
Now the church's Sunday service doesn't exist primarily to evangelize the lost. It is the gathering of the people of God for the worship of our holy God. We pray, we sing, we hear the Word, we hear preaching, we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we fellowship – all of it worship. It is for the glory of God, and it is for the building up of God's people. And yet we wouldn't ban unbelievers from attending. No, of course not. Paul even describes the possibility that an outsider or unbeliever may enter into the gathering of saints, hear their worship and be converted.
"He is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you" (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
So, the Christian has another way to be evangelistic. Invite unbelieving friends and family to come to church. Let the preacher do the work! Just invite people to come.
So, we've looked at personal evangelism and church evangelism, now let us turn to the most difficult one of all – street evangelism. This can be intimidating for many Christians. Who me? Just walk up to a stranger and tell them about Jesus? Yikes! Well as scary as it can be, I would argue that it is something that we should attempt as believers. Perhaps we won't find ourselves all equally gifted for the task, but it would be good for all of us to step out in faith this way.
One of the classic examples of street evangelism, or more like desert road evangelism, is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Without going into too much detail here, you may recall that God sends Philip to walk the street between Jerusalem and Gaza. And there he finds this Ethiopian man driving home. Philip, led by the Spirit, goes to the chariot and begins a conversation with the man about Isaiah 53. Philip proclaims the good news about Jesus, the Ethiopian believes, and Philip even baptizes him right then and there. (See Acts 8:26-40).
Do you think that would have been awkward or uncomfortable for Philip? Maybe at first. Here he was, walking up to a perfect stranger to talk about the Lord. Cold-call evangelism at its finest. And yet, as hard as it is, God is pleased to bless this effort of proclaiming his Word in the public square.
Jesus told us in a parable that this method of bringing people into the Kingdom is perfectly legitimate. When you've invited all you know, and there is still room, then we are told to "Go out to the highways and the hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23). So will you make the attempt? Would you share the gospel with a stranger on the road? You never know if God has prepared that person to be ready for your words, just like the Ethiopian and Philip.
As difficult as the task is – it is ultimately a joyful task of sharing the greatest news in the world with the lost. We offer hope to the hopeless. We offer the waters of eternal life to those dying of thirst in this dried-out sinful world. What a privilege. Our feet may be worn out in the effort. They may be cracked and bleeding from the task. But as the prophet Isaiah wrote, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news" (Isaiah 52:7).
Postscript – An Opportunity and a Resource
This Friday evening, we will embark upon our first organized street evangelism effort as a church. While there has been much personal evangelism, and much church evangelism, it is high time that we hit the highways and the hedges. I would encourage as many who are able to come and join. We have gospel tracts and New Testaments to give away. If you are nervous about speaking, feel free to simply come and support others who share by praying for them and standing by.
A very helpful resource in sharing the gospel is the "Two Ways To Live" gospel tract. I have used this one many times in the past and find it to be incredibly helpful in how it presents the gospel. We will have some of these available to give away and to walk people through. You can also direct people to the website where the tract is right there on the home page as you scroll down.
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