Evangelism – Why We Don’t Do It And How We Can
Do you struggle with evangelism?
Growing up, I always felt guilty because I struggled with sharing my faith with others. And honestly, I still do today. I knew I was supposed to share the gospel with those around me, yet I rarely did, if at all. Perhaps you have the same struggle too.
The truth is there are very few areas of the Christian life that causes more guilt than evangelism. The only other area that produces guilt would probably be prayer and it doesn’t have to be that way!
There are lots of reasons why we don’t evangelise – it could be out of the fear of rejection, or it could be just plain complacency. But perhaps the simplest reason could be that we don’t really fully understand what evangelism is.
What is Evangelism?
Evangelism is sharing with non-Christians the good news about what Jesus Christ has done to save us, sinners. What is that message? Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 gives us a clear, compact summary of the gospel.
1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. (ESV)
The good news begins with the bad news that we are in need of salvation from our sins. God is holy, and yet all human beings have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, thus His wrath is justly directed against us. But Jesus died for our sins (v. 3), bearing the punishment that we rightly deserve.
More than that, He rose from the dead (v. 4), conquering sin and death on our behalf. Now comes our response – we must turn from our sin and trust in Jesus – holding fast to this message (vv. 1-2) – so that we might be saved. This is the basic message of the gospel that we are to share in our evangelism. Know it well.
The second reason is that we lack relational capital.
Now I know this sounds like a business term or something found in the world of finance, possibly even some pop psychological reference points, but that is not how I am using it here. I am referring to building our relationships with love, respect and goodwill so that honest gospel truth when shared will not easily fracture relationships.
Think about it, could you expect the gospel truth to be easily received by someone you had just met? To get to the point of assumed love and trust, you actually have to care about people and have them care about you. I believe we often fail in our evangelism because we are not able to establish the first step which is to move from distrust to trust.
We often neglect the fact that evangelism is relational and that it starts with love, just as God entered into His creation by sending Jesus because of His great love for us. To this end, churches will do well to allow the organising of events and create space just for relationship-building without shoving in (inappropriately, I might add) the Gospel message.
We are relational beings, and people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Loving people and investing in relationships are part of God’s call of evangelism.
Motivation for Evangelism
All said, the reality is that even when there is a fortune of relational capital, there will be times when it is not enough to overcome the hostility towards the gospel message. But this is a risk we must be willing to endure for the sake of the people whom we love. Humanity’s greatest problem is its eternal separation from God. Therefore, their greatest need is reconciliation with God. Do we truly love people if we take no effort to participate in God’s saving work in their lives?
How We Can Do It
Let me suggest three actions we can take to help us to be faithful to God’s call of evangelism. To be honest, I do not practice these actions with matching frequency considering the urgency of the lost. But allow me, though lacking myself, to share these truths as an encouragement for us to have a heart for the lost to come to Christ.
Pray – the first and most important thing is to pray. Only God can bring about faith to believe the message. Only God can overcome the heart’s rebellion against God and cause sinners to be born again through the gospel. So pray for God to enable you to share the good news with the non-Christians in your life.
Practice – if we are to share the good news, then we must know what the good news is. So know the gospel. And use your personal testimony to bridge the gospel. Be well-versed in presenting the gospel clearly. So practice, practice, practice. Then think of some specific persons with whom you can share the gospel that you’ve been practicing.
Personal relationships – invest in relationships and increase our relational capital so we can buffer the perceived harsh reality of the gospel with love. We often do not give our closest relationships enough credit and wrongly think that speaking the hard truth will sever the meaningful relationships that we have built over the years. It is exactly in that place of deep trust that we should share the honest gospel truth.
Let us all be faithful to God’s call of evangelism. Begin with prayer, then seek those closest to you that you have the strongest relationships. Our call is to plant seeds, God is the One who makes them grow. We are called to be faithful yet to leave the results to God. And who knows, you might be surprised by the outcome.
Addendum from the publisher: Evangelism is vital for the spreading of the gospel. It involves having an understanding of humanity’s need for the work of Christ and a love for the people to want to share this good news with them, through the way we live and the words we share.