Everyday Evangelism

Evangelism doesn’t have to be scary. When Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world, he didn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up everything and move to another country to be a witness for him. In Matthew 28:19-20, commonly known as the Great Commission, Jesus simply meant, “as you go…” As you go about living your life, you look for opportunities to share the message of Christ with those you come into contact with regularly. Think of your family and friends. Do they all know Christ? What about your co-workers or fellow students? Have you ever talked with them about Christ?

God wants to use you to reach others.

Christ did not command only a select few to go. He wants all of us to tell others about him. On the evening of his resurrection, Christ talked with two of his disciples as they walked toward Emmaus. He explained the role of the Messiah using Scripture. When they realized who he was, they ran back to Jerusalem to meet with other disciples. While they were talking, Christ appeared to them again and explained his purpose. Then he told them that they should preach repentance and forgiveness of sin in his name beginning where they were. They were his witnesses (Luke 24:13-49).

God wants you to begin right where you are. Begin with the people you know and come in contact with daily. Talking about repentance and forgiveness is more difficult than inviting someone to Church. Christ never commanded the world to come to the church and learn. He commanded the church to go into the world and teach. He wants us to leave the four walls of our church buildings and take his message to people who have not come into the building.

You can reach people that others can’t.

People have many reasons for not coming into a church building, but it is more important for you to invite them to Christ than your church meetings. You may not think of yourself as a great speaker. You may be tempted to think your pastor or youth minister should do the talking, but you will contact people your pastor or minister may never meet.

You never fail when you share Christ.

If all you know is your testimony, you may not think it is spectacular, but God will place people in your path that maybe only you can reach. I like Darrell Robinson’s definition of being a successful witness in People Sharing Jesus. He basically says that a successful witness is sharing Christ and the way to know him in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. Doing that, you will never fail.

You listen for other’s needs.

Opportunities to talk about Christ often come up in normal everyday conversations. As you are listening, others may talk about needs in their life. They may talk about stress or other difficulties. They may express questions or doubts about the future. Many years ago, when I was in college, I worked in an optical laboratory. One of my co-workers asked my opinion of fortune tellers and mediums. Rather than launch into a tirade against them, I simply let him know that I did not worry about the future, but that I trusted God with my future. That led to an opportunity to share Christ with him. If you train yourself to listen for those types of comments, you will find you have plenty of opportunities to share Christ.

Get Outta here!

When you get out of the church walls, and speak naturally about Christ, you will find that people aren’t as offended by the gospel as you may have heard. People are often pleasantly surprised when you naturally transition to talking about Christ without grabbing them by the collar and shouting, “Brother, are you saved?” You don’t come off as “churchy.”

God wants to use us more than we realize. Don’t sell yourself short by saying, “I don’t know how God can use someone like me. God has created you uniquely and he wants to use you if you are willing. All you have to do is go. Telling others about Christ is one of the most exciting parts of being a Christian.

Advertisements

Do You Have “the Gift”?

Part of my role as pastor is to teach my people how to do evangelism. Many times, they respond by telling me that they do not have the gift of evangelism. They feel as though that excuses them from doing “the work of the evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).

Not long ago, a vocational evangelist asked me if I had “the gift.” He said that if I had the gift, I would not be content to be just a pastor, but that I would have found a way to speak in front of crowds at crusades. I told him that God had not opened those doors for me.  If I really had “the gift,” he reasoned, I would make a way.

Similarly, I have been told that I do not have “the calling.” A little more than twenty years ago, I was the pastor of a small, struggling church in south Texas. Because the church was not growing very much, one of the deacons implied that I did not have “the calling.” If I did, he reasoned, then the church would be growing. Since the church was not actively growing, apparently I was not called to the ministry.

At an Evangelism Conference of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 2011, one of the speakers addressed the group of pastors. He said, “Pastor, if you can’t get at least one person to walk down the aisle of your church and get baptized each year, you should question your calling.” It did not matter what kind of spiritual climate your church may be in, you are only effective if you are producing numbers.

Obviously, the gift is evaluated numerically. If your church is growing, and people are coming in (especially if they are getting baptized) and your church budget is expanding, then you must have “the calling.” If you speak at crusades and large numbers of people make decisions, then you have “the gift.” In some denominations, it is also called the “anointing.” You will hear church members say, “My, that sermon sure was anointed,” or “had the anointing on it.”

So, how do you know if you have “the gift?” Most would say that if you are not producing numbers, i.e. new converts, new church members, or dollars, you are not called, gifted or anointed. Biblically, none of these factors indicates calling, gifting or anointing.

Look at some of the Old Testament prophets, for example. Jeremiah did not have a large following. He found himself at the bottom of a cistern, and ultimately in exile. Isaiah had a dramatic encounter with God. God definitely called him for service, but in Isaiah 6, he asked God how long it would be as the people would not listen. Even God’s response sounds like a lament. God answered Isaiah’s question: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate, The Lord has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.” (Isaiah 6:11-13). God had promised that the people’s hearts would be dull and their ears deaf, certainly not the testimony of a widespread revival in the land. Yet God did not say that Isaiah was not “called” because he did not produce large numbers of converts.

At Christ’s ascension, he only had 11 followers with him. Judas was gone and Mathias had not yet replaced Judas as one of the Apostles. If Jesus had tried to build his church today, the sending agency would have given him three years to make it. They would have evaluated the effectiveness of his ministry by looking at the numbers. They would have said, “Well, we have funded you for three years, with a decrease in funding each year, hoping you would become self-sustaining. It has been three years, and you have only made eleven converts, so we are going to de-fund you.” That is modern church planting, so, apparently, Christ did not have the calling, the gift or the anointing.

A quick search of the scripture will not reveal the phrase of the gift of evangelism. The Bible refers to the gift of the evangelist in Ephesians 4:11, but the gift of evangelism. All believers are commissioned to be disciple-makers, which involves the task of evangelism. Paul commanded Timothy to do the work of the evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). He did not say, “Don’t worry about it, Timothy, you don’t have the gift.”

While we may not have the “gift, the calling or the anointing,” we all have the task of evangelism. Christ commissioned all his followers in Matthew 28:18-20, among others, to do that job. Do your task and leave the numbers to God.