In a previous article, we defined evangelism and highlighted its importance for Christians. However, most of us shy away from evangelizing because we fear not knowing what to say or how to do it. If that is your struggle, then this article is for you. Here, the believer will be reminded of everything they need to share the gospel and all God has promised.
Mack Stiles defines Evangelism as “teaching (heralding, proclaiming, preaching) the gospel (the message from God that leads us to salvation) with the aim (hope, desire, goal) to persuade (convince, convert).” Going by this definition, we can conclude that evangelism is an opportunity for us believers to share the gift of salvation received by pointing others (unbelievers) to their need of a saviour. Evangelism is an invitation and command by God to us to point people to him (Matthew 28:18-20). God gives us the reason, means, and tools to joyfully run and share the gospel (Acts 1:8).
Evangelism aims to encourage or persuade people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour (2 Corinthians 5:11). Not every evangelism opportunity will end with a positive response to the gospel. So, dear believers, aim to persuade and not strongarm or manipulate (1 Peter 3:15); remember that God, in His sovereignty, draws people to himself (John 6:44). This, again, is not an excuse to sit and wait for him to draw his people. Believers are Christ’s ambassadors given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). The call for us is to go (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15) because how would they come if they do not hear the gospel (Romans 10:14, 17)?
Unfortunately, many of us have different ideas of what evangelism entails. “Evangelism is teaching/witnessing/proclaiming/preaching/sharing….” The approach then is sharing the gospel with anyone that is around. It is not always standing on a pulpit to share a sermon; that is the preacher’s work. Not all of us can be preachers. But, we are able to share the gospel wherever we are. In Acts 8:4, the disciples went about preaching the gospel as they were scattered about their region after persecution (Acts 8:1). Therefore, we also preach in the streets, at work, on the bus, at home, etc. You are not confined to a specific place and plan. So, we share everywhere and anywhere (Mark 16:15).
So then, how do we proclaim the gospel?
If the aim is to persuade people to believe in Christ, then by inference, we must communicate effectively. And the effectiveness of communication is rated by the listeners’ understanding in many ways. So their response, positive or negative, should come from the point of understanding.
I will mention some common barriers that may prevent us from reaching our goal. These include and are not limited to mistrust, duplicity, unrelatable Christians and wrong access points.
Some people find it easier to communicate the gospel to strangers because such an audience does not give them an overwhelming responsibility to be understood or to follow up. But we must earn the right to be heard, which means we should be present in their lives. Superficial connections do not provide opportunities to communicate and clarify the gospel; instead, one may find resistance because they are not trusted. This is to say that we may need to communicate the gospel in part or in whole many times before a friend understands (Acts 19:8); thus, we should not grow weary (Galatians 6:9) but be persistent in sharing the gospel.
Deeper connections (i.e. building relationships) provide opportunities to serve, comfort and celebrate the people we want to communicate the gospel to. Such access points are gems. The gospel can be easily misunderstood if our actions are not loving towards the neighbours we desire to preach to. Peter reminds us to be respectful and gentle even as we share the gospel (1 Peter 3:15). Yet, we must grant that the gospel is better understood if well lived out (Galatians 6:9).
While we remain eager to tell our friends about Christ, proclaiming how merciful he has been to us (Mark 5:19), we should be careful not to be pushy. It can sometimes be complicated for an unbeliever to understand words like “righteousness” and “grace” because they don’t use such words in their everyday language. They will, however, certainly understand the meaning of the Gospel when they see it worked out in our lives.
As we go to seek out souls for the Lord, the gospel is our most powerful tool. Paul in Romans highlights that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). The gospel is found in God’s Word, and sharing it is all we need to see someone convicted of their sins (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the world and share the gospel (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-20), he promised that his presence would be with them continually (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, sharing the gospel will help you grow.
It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that you are able to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8). He will work within you to convict others of their sin and awaken their need for a saviour, and if they don’t respond in faith, lovingly informing them of the impending judgment (John 16:8-9). God is the one who draws people to himself as we share the gospel with them (John 6:44). The same gospel message that you preach is what God uses to draw people to himself. James 1:18 says that people are brought forth in faith through the Word we preach.
The gospel is the means through which God reconciles the world to himself. Therefore, we must all be able to articulate the gospel clearly. People have also developed creative methods that help us to share the gospel simply, for example, the Romans road, the bridge, the three circles, etc.
Every day, God provides us with opportunities to make him known. We must continually ask God for grace to overcome the fear and self-preservation that keep us from sharing our faith boldly. So be encouraged, dear one, because as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news (Romans 10:15)!”