If we have a proper understanding of what Biblical conversion is (see http://bbcnhny.org/2014/10/10/true-conversion/), we will be able to better understand what biblical evangelism is:
Acts 26:19-20 "So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.
Acts 20:21 “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As Pastor Dever puts it:
[True conversion]… “Is not reciting a creed. It’s not saying a prayer. It’s not a conversation. It’s not becoming a Westerner. It’s not reaching a certain age, attending a class, or passing through some other rite of adulthood. It’s not a journey, everyone strewn along the path at different points. Rather, conversion is turning with our whole lives from self-justification to Christ’s justification, from self rule to God’s rule, from idol worship to God worship.” (Acts 11:18; Eph 2:8)
Let me make a suggestion that we have made evangelism “busy work” rather than simply a part of our every day life.
A healthy philosophy of evangelism hinges on the idea that evangelism is not only a program. A church does not transform a community through activates and events. In fact, church sponsored programs generally do not produce results. Instead of converts, they produce administrative tasks, and add an additional burden on the pastor of trying to get people to attend. One of the biggest mistakes pastors make in the area of evangelism is trying to measure their church’s faithfulness to the great commission by the number of (or attendance at) outreach events. This makes evangelism a guilt-laden endeavor, and also unnecessarily weds it to programs which in all likelihood don’t produce converts anyway.
… A healthy church is marked by a love for evangelism. The congregation is faithful to reach the lost, to share the gospel with strangers, co-workers, neighbors, and friends. How sad would it be if people thought that evangelism was what their church did on Wednesday nights (or whatever other slot a program fits in), rather than what they are privileged to do, Monday though Saturday!
…For laypeople: realize that evangelism is the task God has given you. Deliberately develop relationships with those around you for the purpose of giving the gospel. Be bold in sharing your faith. If you are fearful, evangelism gives you the opportunity to trust God for courage. If you are timid, evangelism gives you an opportunity to trust God for confidence. Christians are slaves to Christ, soldiers in his service, and sons of God. Our master, our general, and our Father has given us our orders: to reach the lost with the hope of the Gospel. As Christians, we love what God loves, and God loves the lost. As we become more and more sanctified, we become more and more like Christ. And this growth causes us to grow in our love for those who are still God’s enemies.
A healthy church impacts their community because their members love their neighbors. This love results in us reaching out to the lost, presenting the Gospel to them, and seeing some of them saved. As we do this, our churches grow, and our evangelism results in changed lives.
To read the rest of the article go here http://thecripplegate.com/evangelism-as-a-practice-not-a-program-2/#more-14869
Over the course of the last 6-9 months we have suggested some ways to improve our evangelism in our prayer times on Sunday and Wednesday evenings:
- When you arise in the morning start praying that God would give you opportunities to share the Gospel.
- Look for opportunities wherever you are (grocery store, hardware store, playground, soccer/baseball field…) to share the Gospel.
- This means you have to have your ears and eyes open to see/hear the moment
- It means you may have to slow down (I’m talking to me here) and instead of getting a “task done” we do the task looking for a ‘God moment’
- Seek opportunities to share the Gospel during normal conversations.
- To be sensitive to the God moments in your life
- Pray that our friends, co-workers, neighbors will be receptive to the Gospel.
Which are simply five different ways of being purposeful in making our mindset each and every day, “today I’m going to be evangelistic”.
In other words sharing the Gospel is not isolated to:
1. Only those who have the “gift of evangelism”
a. By the way there’s no gift it’s a command for ALL believers
i. Matt 28:19-21
ii. Acts 1:8
2. Pastors, elders, deacons…but all believers are to share the Gospel
b. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
c. Colossians 4:5-6
Along with the obvious of fear and being timid as reasons we struggle with sharing the Gospel there is also the issue of not clearly understanding what the Gospel is:
- God is our Holy Creator and righteous Judge-Gen 2:7, 16-17; 18:25; Rev 20:11-13
- We have all sinned against Him Gen 3:1-7; Rom 3:23; Eph 2:1-3
- He has sent Christ to die the death that we deserved for our sins Jn 1:14; Rom 3:21-26; 5:6-8; Eph 2:4-6
- Christ death and resurrection is the only way to be reconciled to the one true God. Rom 10:9-10
- We must respond to this good news by repenting of our sins and believing in the gospel if we would be forgiven by God, reconciled to Him and saved from the wrath to come Matt 3:2; 4:17; Mk 1:15; Lu 3:7-9; Jn 20:31; Acts 26:20
- We must persevere in a lifestyle of repentance and belief displaying an increasingly loving and holy lifestyle that proves we are His disciples: Jn 15:8; 1 Thess 3:12-13; James 2:14-26; 1 Jn 2:3; 3:14; 4:8 ..
A good challenge to take up is getting to the point of being able to go through these six points in sixty seconds. Not that that is the way you will share the Gospel, but so that you have the Gospel so clear in your mind that you are comfortable in sharing the Gospel to those whose path you cross.
As individuals we also struggle with sharing the Gospel because, “…many Christians wind up squandering opportunities to move a conversation with a friend toward deeper things because they simply don’t know how to make that move without being too abrupt, tactless, or cheesy.”
Listen you bring up a “hot topic” and your friend will have no problem stating their opinion (football, baseball, weather, health insurance, the economy)….the KEY is listening for the opportunity to turn THAT conversation towards the Gospel http://thecripplegate.com/starting-gospel-conversations/ .
What we Christians need to realize is that “…most people come to faith through the influence of family members, small-group Bible studies, or a conversation with a friend after a church service: Christians intentionally talking about the gospel.”
Evangelism is not doing everything we can to get a person to make a decision. Nor is it just a matter of giving our testimony. Rather evangelism is US speaking the words of the Gospel and allowing God to do the work of regeneration. It’s engaging in purposeful conversations, sensing opportunities to converse with family, friends, co-workers, or fellow students in talking about the Gospel. Remember the point of sharing the Gospel isn’t to save them (that’s God’s part) but putting the Gospel in their minds so the Holy Spirit now has something to work with in His convicting work.
Let me give a personal illustration. During my second bout with cancer I was confronted with some very limited (OK, 2 options, an experimental drug or accepting death). My response to both doctors in the room that day was simply this: “Though I’m ready to die and go to be with my Savior, Jesus Christ. I enjoy living and being with my family. Let’s try the experimental drug.” Well the eyes of the one doctor got as big as saucers. Well three weeks later I came with the Ken Ham track “Why there is death and suffering”. God provided the opportunity I was looking for, a one-on-one conversation. I opened up with Doc, last time I was in and I described my faith your eyes got as big as saucers. His response, “Yes, I’ve never seen anyone with that strong of faith.” Well that produced the opening to share a bit of the Gospel and leave the tract with him. Unbeknownst to me at the time was that Doctor was being reassigned and I saw him only one more time when he stuck his head in the door to say “Hi”.
So, when was the last time you:
· Took the time to intentionally draw a conversation to the Gospel?
· Took the time to deliberately start a relationship to share the Gospel?
· Awoke in the morning asking God to give you an opportunity to share the Gospel?
Mark Stiles writes, “The fact is, most people come to faith through the influence of family members, small-group Bible studies, or a conversation with a friend after a church service: Christians intentionally talking about the gospel.” (His complete article is here http://www.9marks.org/blog/problem-evangelistic-programs ).
My challenge would be this: develop a love for the lost and then spend time intentionally talking with people you know and come in contact with about the Gospel. Present it clearly, considerately, urgently, and leave the results with God, who is the only one that can regenerate the lost soul of man.