I’ve noticed over that past few years that we practice four methods of what we call evangelism.
- Invite your lost friends to church.
- Invite them to community group.
- Invite them to come hangout with your “Christian Friends”.
- Give them a Christian book or pamphlet.
But that isn’t evangelism. That is inviting and bringing, not evangelizing. Have we become so lazy that we just invite our friends to where we are and then sit and wait for our pastor’s to tell our seeking friends the truth? In her book Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World, Rebecca Manley Pippert says, “The heart of evangelism is sharing the story of Christ the good news of how God took upon himself the sin and shame of the human race so that all who believe in him might be saved.”
That’s it. That is evangelism. So why aren’t we willing to tell our friends, family, or co-worker this?
The key to evangelism is spending time with God—reading and studying your bible, praying, etc. Evangelism is an over-flow of your heart and it begins with your relationship with God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16). If we aren’t daily renewed by the word we will stay as we are and continue being an inviter. The gospel is the most liberating news to ever grace this planet and we aren’t willing to tell others about it!
Some of you are different. You find your joy and security in what you do for God rather than who you are to God. Like the inviter you don’t share with others out of the overflow of your heart, but instead you are doing it to earn a right standing with the Lord. The Lord is powerful and can use both of these people for his glory and draw people to himself. We need to remember that we are commanded to share the gospel and it’s a delight to be able to tell others (Matt 28:18-20). But before we dig into gospel conversations and tell others the good news we need to remember a few things.
We need to see people as Jesus sees them. We fail to see others this way because we are blind to the needs around us. Instead, we treat people around us as interruptions to our lives. Your neighbor, co-workers, even the smelly person next to you on the plane, is there by divine appointment.
In order to see people as Jesus we need to know how Jesus saw them. A desire for the lost only comes from knowing and understanding who God is and how much we need him.
At a previous job I worked with someone who was really hard to love. I didn’t love that person well because I’d forget that she needed a Savior and that she was blind to truth. Instead of seeing her as an annoyance, the Lord began to break me of this to view her as she was, a person created in his image just like me. I still didn’t love her perfectly and she still annoyed me, but my compassion increased and I often had to go to her and seek forgiveness for how I had responded or didn’t respond to her. I did a terrible job of communicating and displaying the gospel because I didn’t see her as Jesus did.
Evangelism is work. We have to take risks and dig beneath the surface of peoples’ lives. It’s messy and can be draining, but in light of eternity that momentary mess or exhaustion is well worth it for the glory of God alone.
We have to take initiative and when we do, it opens the risk of rejection. Letting people inside our lives is frightening but essential in evangelism.
We treat evangelism like a sales person treats a sales territory. We cherry pick who we think will be the most receptive of the gospel or often assume that a person will not be open to Christianity. We need to remember we can’t make anyone become a Christian; only the Lord can do this. We need to accept people where they are without compromising our Christian standards or convictions.
Some of us meet people where they are, but we blend in so well into the world around us that people can’t tell we are Christians. On the other hand, some of us we separate ourselves by having little contact with the world. We need to recognize which camp we fall in and fight against these temptations.
Of course there are things we shouldn’t do. A good gauge is: does the activity violate a scriptural mandate or principal or are you violating your God-given sense of purity by doing this?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Be who God created you to be, be real and authentic. In our day and time people often want to know their personality type. . .introversion or extroversion, outgoing or quiet. . .regardless, you are not off the hook from telling others about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our desperate need to know about a Savior doesn't alter because of your personality type.
Being an introvert isn’t an excuse to never share the gospel, but it means finding ways to share the love of Christ in a way that fits the way that God has designed you in his image.
Extroverts, it may mean you need to calm down, you have a tendency to think people need to meet you where you are and share your outwardness with you. Remember that you (like the introvert) need to meet people where they are. Figure out how to communicate the truth in love.
So no matter our personality we need to remember this from Matthew 5:13-14:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
“We are not insulated and isolated from the world, but neither are we complacent and blind to it’s agonies and sorrows and the darkness of its heart. We are salt and light. We make a difference because we are different. And when we live before God as we truly are, he will change the world in which we live.” Rebecca Manley Pippert