What Is Evangelism?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Welcome, Young Believer!
By now we've studied the Great Commission in-depth, but you may have heard of this word called Evangelism or even a group of people called Evangelicals. Today we're going to take a look at what Evangelism is and what it is not. We'll talk about Evangelicals when we get to our series about church denominations, so don't worry too much about them for now. To give full credit where credit is due, we studied this topic in our church's midweek worship a couple of months ago, so I will be pulling from some of my notes as we dive into this topic.
Evangelism comes from two Greek words.
The verb, euangeliso, meaning to preach or to announce good news.
The noun, euangelion, which means proclaiming the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, an Evangelist is someone who teaches or proclaims the Gospel to others. I love how my Pastor put this, "Evangelism is God making His appeal through us to a lost world." The appeal in the Gospel is of course an invitation to turn from your sin and draw near to God. This is pretty incredible when you think about it! Most if not all other religions in the world certainly urge their members to obey a certain level of morality and they include a system of consequences or sacrifices that must be met when you fail, but in none of those cases would the worshiper expect to draw near to their gods.
The wonderful truth that we can be redeemed from our sin and draw near to the presence of God for eternity is Good News indeed!
However, evangelism does not include inviting someone to church, welcoming someone to church, serving at an outreach event, building a relationship with a nonbeliever, or living a holy life. These things are important but none of them include actually proclaiming from your mouth the truth of the Gospel.
What then is sharing the Gospel?
There are a few ways to walk someone through the Gospel. Sometimes the easiest way to go is to share your own story of how you came to be a Christian. Another way, that is very popular is what we call the Roman Road, you might be familiar with it from our Start Here page!
1. We believe that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
2. We believe that the consequence of our sin apart from God's gift of eternal life through Christ is death. (Romans 6:23)
3. We believe God demonstrated His love for us through the death of His Son while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
4. We believe that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, and believe this in your heart,... that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Consider it this way, first, someone must understand that they are a sinner. That can be very difficult today in a world where we teach tolerance and acceptance often above speaking the truth to someone. Our society also teaches that overall people are good and want to do good. This is where your own personal experience of recognizing your sin can come in helpful. Once you've established that we've all sinned then you can talk about what the consequences of that reality are.
Now right alongside calling someone a sinner is the uncomfortable topic of consequences. These can be difficult conversations, especially in a day where consequences seem limited and justice in one context or another is discussed frequently. This is where it is a good time to direct the conversation to the perfection of Jesus, His ability, and His willingness to take on those consequences on our behalf on the cross. Without His perfect life, death, and resurrection we would be without hope... left to face the consequences of our sin on our own. Finally, it's time to invite them (make that appeal) to believe.
Sharing the Gospel with someone can be terrifying but it is the calling of every Christian, not just the Pastors, elders, deacons, extra-religious people... if you believe in Jesus, then you don't have an excuse before God for not sharing the good news with others!
Sometimes half the battle is knowing how to turn a conversation to the Gospel, one of my favorite things we discussed in midweek worship was how to build bridges to Gospel in everyday conversations. Practicing watching for that opening can be such a great way to become intentional about telling others about Jesus. Remember that this isn't about springing a "trap" on everyone you meet in conversation, but finding the right way with the Holy Spirit's help to lovingly point people to Jesus.
Types of Bridges
The Bible Bridge
Every once in a while a friend or new acquaintance who knows that you at least attend church may ask you a question about the Bible. This gives you a great opportunity to use the answer to their question not only to give them the information they were looking for but to open up that connection to the Gospel.
The Seeker Bridge
This one could be very popular with our young Gen Z and Gen Alpha friends. Life is confusing and we've often been told that each person has their own truth. This has left so many of our generation in the dark, searching for the truth. When we encounter this type of person who is on their own journey seeking out the truth, we should celebrate that and then take the opportunity to point them in the right direction.
Bridge of Unexpected Conversation
These types of conversations are pretty rare these days, where you happen to find yourself in a group of people that is open and willing to discuss religious topics (I'm calling them that because that's how many of my non-Christian friends would define it.) The reason this opportunity seems so rare is that it actually requires you to really listen to people and to the Holy Spirit. A conversation about your favorite movies can often turn into sharing the Gospel if you're paying close enough attention and that goes for most other topics as well.
Acts of Mercy Bridge
This one can be difficult as you have to face the fact first that the person you're speaking to is hurting; they may have received a terminal diagnosis, lost a loved one, or been through some other sort of trauma. Often in these circumstances, people are more prone to be thinking about spiritual things and wondering if there is hope out there. You can give it to them!
Acts of Celebration Bridge
Similarly, in times of great joy, it can be very difficult to get people to focus on the weight of their sin and their need for salvation. However, marriages, births, promotions, house warmings, and other such wonderful events can be pointed toward the goodness of God, His love for us, and our need for Him.
I hope that this explanation has given you some food for thought and some practical ways to begin sharing the Gospel with your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Just think, if someone had not taken the time to tell us the good news we too would still be lost in our sin!
If you have more questions about Evangelism please place those in the comments. I also highly recommend, as always, that you find a mentor in the faith that will help to walk you through these issues as you grow in your faith. This is one journey you were never meant to take alone!