What does evangelism look like? We know evangelism requires sharing the good news about Christ, but what do we think of when someone says, “I was evangelizing?” For many of us, we see evangelism as an encounter with someone we do not know. It’s short, sweet, to the point, and meant to bring a person a message we otherwise think they would never hear. Some spend time trying to find out how to break the ice, how to give the 4 essentials of the Gospel, or how to defend the tough questions.
Do you evangelize? Evangelism brings conviction sometimes because we can’t remember the last time (if ever) we went to the mall or other public place and “evangelized” — met people we never knew, asked a seemingly natural question to break the ice and share the good news.
But is this “evangelism” according to the Bible? Certainly Jesus encountered and preached to crowds of people in the open air. The apostles shared the Gospel with strangers (Philip even baptized the eunuch after he believed). But is this the main idea behind evangelism? Who should our main evangelistic ministry be geared towards?
Paul calls us Ambassadors. This is not a command to go do something, rather a statement of what we are. It is a title or office given to every Christian. The role cannot be rejected or swept aside under the auspice of, “it’s not my gift”. The simple reality is, “You, Christian are an ambassador!” Whose ambassador? God’s. He makes His appeal through you, whether or not you recognize it!.
Since we are ambassadors, if you have never been out to the open market, then should an altar call follow with you being the first one to respond? Not necessarily. Open market evangelism is a form of evangelism. Some people are gifted at it. Some people do it to win arguments and not people (btw, THAT is not biblical either!). But can I suggest the main field you harvest are those God places in your life daily? God has placed you in an environment, where every day you are surrounded by unbelievers. The stay-at-home-mother of 4 children is surrounded by 4 unbelievers. She may have unbelieving friends with children too that she interacts with habitually. At a job we work with unbelievers. Our neighbors and sometimes family members are unbelievers too.
God places believers in contexts and situations to be a light and proclaim the message. This field is more difficult than the mall or open-air preaching because this field can see your daily life. These people see every aspect of your life. They get to see you sin and how you handle it. Many of these people know your pre-Christ days. They remember when you were just like them. For many of these people it’s not what you say that teaches them, rather do your actions validate this message you proclaim?
You can’t just win an argument with these people, you have to win them. If every encounter is a gospel track and 3 questions to prove they’re a sinner, will you really develop a relationship with them? Probably not, you most likely will be known as the judgmental argumentative one.
So how do we evangelize those we see every day?
First, be focused on winning people not arguments. Our goal is to win the person. This does not mean you cannot have convictions or teach the truth, rather be willing to spend time getting to know the people in your field. Be willing to invest in them as a person. Sometimes you have to win a person’s respect before you can be respected with your words. This does not mean avoid sharing the truth, it only means the person is more important than proving creationism. For many people (me included), your words mean more to me if I know you love me and are invested in me.
Second, your character matters. Your life is on display. (Remember, some of these people may have changed your diapers and taught you how to ride a bike). The words you speak will have more impact if you live out what you believe. Someone who says “God so loves the world . . .” but does not reflect God’s love to others makes God out to be a liar. Our actions speak. Unbelievers are watching to see if you (and the God you worship) is legit. If all you do is speak truth and live like an unbeliever, then you become a “hypocrite along with all those OTHER Christians.” God conforms us to be like His Son! When we live like His Son, we naturally point people to Christ. Our life becomes a constant reminder of the Gospel. Encountering those we do not know provides little opportunity to display God’s character whereas those we do know it becomes instrumental!
Third, speak the truth. Not EVERYTHING an unbeliever says should be a battle ground. But in general speak the truth in love. Be willing to listen carefully and respond wisely. Share the good news about Christ and our sinfulness. Be willing to take your time. Be willing to tell it over and over. We tell people the truth about their sinfulness and what Christ did. It’s not just the unbeliever’s sinfulness. Remember, it is yours too. Be willing to answer questions. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you will get back to them with an answer. You do not have to know everything when you speak with them, but tell them and show them what you do know. Be willing to give them a Bible and some verses for them to read. Challenge them to verify what you say (God’s Word will not return void).
Fourth, Remember unbelievers suppress the truth in unrighteousness. By nature, we are children of wrath, destined for hell. This is reality. Only the Lord can open hearts and cause people to repent. Therefore, remember that by nature, people reject truth. Understanding this one reality will save much frustration and drive us to be compassionate for unbelievers because we know EXACTLY why they chose to live the way they do and reject what we so clearly see to be true.
Fifth, when you sin against the person (and you most certainly will), ask forgiveness. Everyone knows you did wrong and the way you handle it communicates. We are not perfect, but redeemed. Call sin sin and ask forgiveness. This is huge (especially when evangelizing children). Failure to admit fault produces ammunition for the unbeliever to use against you.
Finally (6), pray. Pray the Lord opens their hearts. Pray for the church–that the Lord protects our character, message, and life. Pray the Lord would grant them repentance. Salvation is His work, not ours. The message is our work done on behalf of Him!
We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God!!