Friday, January 9, 2015

4 Fundamentals of Evangelism

We spoke recently about how imperative it was for the church to take God's call of "Come!" out into the world.  Yet, I'm afraid we left out how.

That question is an ongoing problem for churches.  Some assume that it's no longer possible to effectively reach out in our increasingly secular society.  "People don't want to hear it anymore!" they say.  Perhaps worse, others assume it is possible but a perfectly professional job.  They'd like to hire "out-reach" ministers or call their minister an "evangelist" as if the title will get the job done.  Most dangerous of all, we have a wealth of women out there, submissive godly women, who assume that it's some man's job and not their own. 

Today I'd like to share 4 fundamental ideas that make a difference in our evangelism.  Next week, I'll be going over practical suggestions to be an effective and feminine evangelist!

1. Evangelism is intensely personal. If people hear the word of the Lord in a pew on Sunday morning, odds are someone befriended them and then invited them.  There may have been months or weeks of work/prayer behind that single invitation.  When Sunday morning is over, someone needs to answer their questions, invite them to come back, sit next to them at their first potluck and make sure their kids are doing well in Bible class.  Someone will be praying for them everyday and someone will be quietly leaning over to flip the pages in their Bible so they can find the place as the teacher moves on. Someone will be up late searching the Bible to answer a hard question and someone will cry their eyes out when they are baptized. Those "someones" don't get paid.

2. Evangelism cannot be done by proxy. As good as some of the material out there is, tracts, books, videos etc. are not adequate. Jesus commissioned disciples to make disciples. As a Rabbi, he preached, but he also talked individually with people. He answered their questions and explained in more detail.  He ate dinner with them, washed their feet, shared worship with them and walked with them everyday.  As awesome as God's revelation of himself was in the Old Testament, it could not take Jesus' place.  In the same way, no book, tract or video will begin to take the place of a human being who loves God deeply, takes his word seriously and is invested in the life of the learner.   The old saying goes, "You can't give what you don't have."  Materials can teach but they can't disciple.

3. Evangelism is not an add on.  It's not something that super Christians do, missionaries do, or men do.  It's not something we can be excused from if we don't have the gift. It's not something that takes an enormous amount of study (some of the best evangelists I've ever known were not particularly knowledgeable, just particularly kind, friendly, and joyful!). It's not something we can say that we tried once and it didn't work. It's not something we age out of in our Christian walk. It's everyone's job.

4. Evangelism is terrifying, heartbreaking and hard.  In an effort to get people to try to evangelize we sometimes pretend its easy.  "Just show this video!  Anyone can push play on the DVD!"  or "Follow through these verses step by step and don't worry! It'll be a breeze."  When we understand what's at stake, when we love people with all our hearts and pour prayer out for them, then we are ready to carry out Jesus' mission.  Our work will not be easy because his wasn't; everyone won't accept our message because they hated his.   Be ready to be rejected -  "No thanks," ignored - "I know what the Bible says, but I think..." and shrugged off - "Do you really think its that big a deal?"  Be ready to have sin chosen over Jesus again and again.

Jesus gave the church a mission- call the lost world to come to the Savior.  He entrusted it to individual Christians.  The world will not hear if the individual disciples that make up the church, male and female, young and old, don't make an effort every day to help the world to hear!


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