EVANGELISM . . . FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS CENTRAL IDEA
Evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life, but it is also a Discipline. Although all Christians are not expected to use the same methods of evangelism, all Christians are expected to evangelize. Godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the practice of evangelism. The reason many of us don’t witness in effective ways is our lack of discipline.
- What images does the word evangelism bring to mind?
- Why does God command us to evangelize?
- Why do you think many Christians are afraid to evangelize?
What are your fears about evangelism? Only the sheer rapture of being lost in the worship of God is as exhilarating and intoxicating as telling someone about Jesus Christ. Yet nothing causes an eye-dropping, foot-shuffling anxiety more quickly among a group of Christians like myself than talking about our responsibility to evangelize. In fact, I’m sure I don’t know a single Christian who would boldly say, “I am as evangelistic as I should be.” The main idea I want to communicate is that godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the practice of evangelism. The reason many of us don’t witness for Christ in ways that would be effective and relatively fear -free is simply because we don’t discipline ourselves to do it.
Evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life. Every Christian should be able to talk about what the Lord has done for him and what He means to her. But evangelism is also a Discipline in that we must discipline ourselves to get into situations where evangelism can occur; that is, we must not just wait for witnessing opportunities to happen. Jesus said in Matthew 5: 16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Any Christian who has heard biblical preaching , participated in Bible studies, and has read the Scriptures and Christian literature for any time at all should have at least enough understanding of the basic message of Christianity to share it with someone else. Even so, many Christians don’t actively witness. Isn’t the main reason we don’t witness the simple lack of disciplining ourselves to do it? Yes, there are those wonderful, unplanned opportunities God appoints to give the “reason for the hope that is in you ” (1 Peter 3: 15). Nevertheless, I maintain that apart from making evangelism a Spiritual Discipline, most Christians will seldom share the gospel.
So, the point is not so much how many unbelievers you see every day, but how often you are with them in an appropriate context for sharing the gospel . Despite the important work-related discussions you may have throughout the day, how often do you have the kinds of meaningful conversations with coworkers where spiritual issues can be raised?
That’s why I say evangelism is a Spiritual Discipline. Unless we discipline ourselves for evangelism, we can easily excuse ourselves from ever sharing the gospel with anyone. You’ll have to discipline yourself to ask your neighbors how you can pray for them or when you can share a meal with them. You’ll have to discipline yourself to get with your coworkers during off-hours.
Many such opportunities for evangelism will never take place if you wait for them to occur spontaneously. The world, the flesh, and the Devil will do their best to see to that. You, however, backed by the invincible power of the Holy Spirit , can make sure that these enemies of the gospel do not win. Regardless of how shy or unskilled we may feel about evangelism, we must not convince ourselves that we cannot or will not verbally share the gospel. Often it is the message of the Cross lived and demonstrated that God uses to open a heart to the gospel, but it is the message of the Cross proclaimed (by word or page) through which the power of God saves those who believe its content. No matter how well we live the gospel (and we must live it well, else we hinder its reception), sooner or later we must communicate the content of the gospel before a person can become a disciple of Jesus. (Taken from chapter 6 of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.)
ANSWER IN YOUR JOURNAL
- Have you ever been afraid to share Christ? If so, when? Why were you afraid?
With which evangelistic approach( es) are you most comfortable? Which ones intimidate you? Be honest.
Discuss with your accountability partner or LIFE Group the kinds of responses—positive and negative—you received when you shared the good news of Christ with others.
Researcher George Barna says that most Christians who witness to others come away feeling like failures. So, since they don’t like to fail, they redirect their efforts into spiritual activities in which they are more likely to be satisfied and successful. Have you found this to be true? Why or why not?
Are you confident that God has given you Acts 1: 8 power? Why or why not?
What does 2 Corinthians 2: 14-17 say about God’s power through us? About our impact on non-Christians?
What does Colossians 4: 5-6 say about how to approach evangelism ? Why is such preparation so important?
What is your estimate of the number of times you have heard the gospel in your life? In a paragraph or so, write the gospel message a person must hear to be saved. Discuss with your group what is necessary for a presentation of the gospel to be clear and complete.
Consider ways you might begin to make evangelism a Spiritual Discipline. What steps can you take this week to build deeper relationships with unbelievers?
It is said that every Christian is at every moment a testimony—good or bad—to the power of Jesus Christ. What implications does this truth have in evangelism?
Focus on what God has done for you and on the importance of sharing Him with others. Ask the Lord to nurture the Discipline of evangelism this week. Ask Him to guide you to at least one person who is open to the gospel.
Write down the names of two people with whom you want to share Christ soon, perhaps even this week. What loving, sensitive steps are you willing to take in order to seek ways of intentionally sharing Christ with them? A lunch meeting? A home meeting? Other?