Christian Life 

Evangelism - what's needed: what's missing?

 
"Evangelism? It's something I wouldn't do to my dog." These were the words of one young believer who subsequently went on to write a best-selling book on the subject of personal evangelism.
But do we fulfill the Great Commission today? And if so how?
 
first published 31/03/10


John the BaptistWHAT do we think when the subject of Evangelism is raised? How do we respond? Excited or Embarrassed?  Defensive or Daring? What is our mental picture of an evangelist? How is evangelism outworked?

The subject of evangelism can provoke heated discussions amongst Christians. "I take my faith onto the streets and share it openly with anyone who will listen", says one.
"Well I believe that a low-key friendship-based approach is the best way," says another.
"Actually you're both wrong", says another. "Better to leave it to those with a gift in spreading the Gospel".

In fact there is no absolute in terms of the right way to share one's faith. Paul endeavoured to become 'all things to all men' and instructed young Timothy to 'preach the word in season and out of season'.
Philip spoke to a man on his way home in his chariot. Peter reached out to a prison officer while in jail. Paul spoke to a governor. Jesus himself spoke very publicly to a hungry mulitude, and in private to a women from Samaria. He mixed with the social outcasts of his day. He mingled with despised collaborators and women of dubious morals.
 

So how are we doing in the 21st century?


The notes to follow list (on a one-at-time-basis) six prerequisites to motivating and enabling God's people to witness effectively to a needy, but largely un-reached world. These suggested components of effective outreach are posited principally to stimulate thinking (and - who knows? - discussion) on the subject.

Evangelism
(Note: with exception of the bearded evangelist (above) all these real-life pictures of outreach(s) were taken by the editor in Inverness, Glasgow and the Highlands. The baptism of a believer was in the River Ness. See margin for some links.)
 

Prerequisite No. 1: A living personal relationship with Jesus Christ

 

Question 1: 

How easy (difficult) is it for churches containing a mixture of committed believers and those who are just 'church attenders' to implement and maintain a mission-orientated ethos? (And of course a church member who doesn't personally know Christ cannot, and should not be expected to communicate a faith which they do not have.)


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Prerequisite No. 2: A clear and universal understanding of the Gospel and the Great Commission

 

Question 2:

Is the body of Christ well taught and keenly aware of  the callings and responsibilities of the Gospel and the Great Commission to travel into all the world (into every section of society) to make disciples of Jesus?

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Prerequisite No. 3: A clear and universal teaching and understanding that every single believer in Christ is called to witness to their faith.

 

Question 3:

Is there a mindset, teaching and impression communicated which restricts the role and calling of evangelism to those who stand in pulpits and/or those who address assembled masses?

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Prerequisite No. 4: A process and facility within local fellowships which allows individual believers to better understand and get to grips with personal, day-to-day approach to evangelism

 

Question 4:

With the common view that an evangelist is someone like Luis Palau, does the average Christian have an adequate 'model' of how to share one's faith at a personal and everyday level?

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Prerequisite No. 5: A believer who is engaged in personal evangelism should have the full support (in prayer and in commitment) of the local church of which he/she is part.

 

Question 5:

To what extent is the 'missionary' support directed solely towards those who work in a foreign land rather than the local hospital, or workshop or serve in the home and community?

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Prerequisite No. 6: Each 'evangelist' should be confidently able to identify a local church fellowship (including their own) to which an enquirer or young Christian can be directed.

 

Question 6:

Do believers have a freedom from their own church leadership to direct and accompany enquirers or new Christians to churches other than their own (if that is the most appropriate thing to do)?
 
 

Thesis:

Without these prerequisites in place, it is unlikely that any one individual within a local church will be highly motivated, equipped, encouraged and supported in personal evangelism.

Postscript:

The following 'conversation' can be found (below) in the message thread. However it has been extracted and placed here because the issue which 'Derek' raises is so vitally important.

Thread snip


The article 'What to look for in a church' can be accessed by <clicking here> or on the 'conversation' above.
 

 

Christians Together, 24/06/2014

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Peter Carr 10/03/2010 09:39
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (New International Version)

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

With Spring now fully with us, we daily enjoy all that God provides for us in terms of the trees, plants, flowers etc. For those of us who are keen gardeners (yours truly not included!), those who have worked hard in their gardens can sit back, relax and enjoy the growth that God alone can bring forth from the earth.

It doesn't mean that there is nothing left to do for the gardener, there is still plenty to do to keep green fingers busy! However, the fruit of the gardeners labour is rewarded, as he or she plants and waters, and only God brings forth the growth.

The Apostle Paul in the above verses in Corinthians reminds us that it is the same for Christians (either individuals or in groups, ie, the church). As we go about planting and watering God's word, as opportunities arise, so we trust The Lord to bring forth fruit in His own time.

And He is faithful and will do it...



Isa 55: 10 & 11 " As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."



Keep on keeping on!!
Editor 24/07/2012 18:24
The following conversation (between Philip and Annie) has been transported from another thread as the dialogue relates to evangelism. Ed.
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Annie:
"Phillip - I really hope you encouraged Kenny(the evangelist)on Saturday in Falcon Square (Inverness) - did you speak to him? Did you tell him to keep on keeping on? Now he really COULD get through to Mr Salmond."

Phillip:
"No I didn't, but what I did do was to observe those around him. Some rushed by uninterested, others mocked and muttered. Not one, in the time I was watching, took a tract or engaged him in conversation. I have no doubt the seed was sown and watered in hearts. However, what I did do as I watched him was prayed.

However, each to there own. There are many ways that the lost can be reached, but maybe a careful observation of our society today suggests that more subtle methods may be more effective!"

Annie:
"Philip, you could not have done a better thing. Kenny is constantly under attack and the prayer covering he gets makes all the difference. I thank you on his behalf.
No reserve troops in Gods army, and this guy is permanently on the front line - I wish I was as brave."
Philip (Guest) 24/07/2012 19:17
Brave! Anyway, I think one crucial ingredient that is missing today is Christains gossiping the gospel, one to one evangelism (where has it gone and why?).
Annie (Guest) 25/07/2012 15:03
Where has it gone and why? It has gone because there is so much "other stuff" in our lives to concern us - the world has encroached and eaten away at our faith without us realising it. "The sowers' seed took root, but was overcome by weeds and tares that choked it!" We pray fervently for the things we think God would endorse. Sometimes we've prayed for years about a matter so close to our hearts and God has not acted for us. Why? Possibly because we didn't pray in His Will? We forgot to ask Him "What is your will Lord?" I am certain that His answer would be "Pray for Salvation" Forget same sex marriages, forget world peace, forget reconcilliation between family memebers, forget all the personal battles for security and happiness....Salvation covers every aspect of life truly dedicated to Him who cares for us.
Salvation changes thinking, changes conversations and changes the way we act towards one another. In spite of what I heard on todays lunchtime news bulletin, it's not too late to pray for Alex Salmond and his government.
Pray for their salvation - all of 'em, God is able and specialises in the impossible. I'm longing to say "I told you so!" Too simplistic? The Gospel message couldn't BE simpler!
Philip (Guest) 25/07/2012 16:42
Annie,

It is sometimes the case in the Christian life that we can get caught up in the trivia, the small things, the secondary things which take our focus away from the things that really matter! This can be deliberate, or it can be because we lack spiritual discernment. But either way it is not healthy.

Maybe we would do well taking heed to these words which are written on a wall on a cathedral in Germany;

You call me Master, and obey me not,
You call me light, and seek me not,
You call me the way, and walk me not,
You call me wise, and follow me not,
If I condemn you, blame me not!

Annie (Guest) 25/07/2012 18:38
Another way to put it.....
We get caught up in the battles, but ignore the war !
How the enemy must smirk at our lack of discernment. He continues to march on, walking all over us, pushing us and our skirmishes aside. The war continues, we must look to our Master for the way of victory - already won at Calvary - our weapons? Prayer and Praise and Salvation. Let us not give up fighting or believing that Gods' justice will prevail.
Philip (Guest) 25/07/2012 20:13
"How the enemy must smirk at our lack of discernment. He continues to march on, walking all over us, pushing us and our skirmishes aside"

Hmmm! The only problem is that the Church is God's plan 'A', I am not aware of a plan 'B' are you?
Annie. (Guest) 27/07/2012 13:25
I'm not sure that the "Church" really is Plan A. What is the Church? It is supposed to be the Body of Christ. It has become a group of people who sit together once a week and get fed sometimes strange food. So many of these people are not saved, or born again, nor do they aspire to be. Sadly some go because they are lonely, some go to be "seen" doing the right thing, some go because it's their social club. I think the Church is Plan B (if there is one). Plan A is Salvation. The Great Commision was to GO Into the world and make disciples of all men. GO, not sit in church - active, not passive. Reach out to the unsaved and bring them into the Kingdom
Ephesians ch.5 tells me to "Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks," etc.etc. It's why I go to church, but I still don't think it's Plan A. It's where I go to learn how to put Plan A into practice. I believe church is changing, and the weekly one and a half hours are becoming less and less relevant in a world that it on its' way to hell and destruction. Pubs and clubs and the streets are where Jesus would be if He was here. And of course He is here! And He needs us to be with Him, ready to do His bidding, and His bidding is for us to help Him put Plan A into action. He makes the openings and He decides who will be SAVED. Kenny the evangelist is right in the thick of it when He stands in Falcon Square, standing right next to Jesus, who will be touching hearts as and when He chooses.
Dear Philip, Salvation is Gods' Plan A, nothing to do with Church. I acknowledge the need of many for church but also I see that the Youth of this Land are taking the battle out onto the streets....oh that I could join them! I'm in Kennys' age group (elderly)but I can pray! Pray for SALVATION first and foremost, 'cos everything else relies and depends on it. like the meercats say...."SIMPLES".......
Penny Lee 27/07/2012 13:45
Annie, that was one of the most relevant posts I think I have ever seen here. You have described the church in most accurate terms. It is sad - but this is how it is. You have hit the nail on the head as regards what people are being fed - strange food - and it doesn't nourish, does it? It may satisfy the appetite of some because it looks good and and fits with society's ideas but how we need good staple food that builds us up and gives us resources upon which to draw.

Just like malnourishment leads to illness and finally death, so spiritual malnourishment leads to spiritual death. Lord - please send us those who will feed us properly and help us to try to feed those around us with truth even when it is not what whets their appetite.
Philip (Guest) 27/07/2012 16:00
Annie and Penny,

I regret that you both have rather a narrow view ofChurch. The Church is undoubtedly God's plan A for ushering in God's Kingdom. The Church is made up of Born Again Christians (not bricks and mortar). Jesus says He will build His Church. Paul, John and others wrote to the churches (God's people), to inspire, encourage, rebuke etc.

The Church is universal and is found in every nation in the world, and is probably fairing and flourishing better in the countries where it is hardest to be a Christian.

God doesn't need our help, but in His mercy and grace He involves us in establishing His Kingdom through us His Church.

Let us not assume that our local experience of a church fellowship is the be all and end all of God's Church! We the Church (living stones) are absolutely God's plan 'A', let us ensure we are doing our bit, and helping others to their bit also!

1 Peter 2:4-6

The Living Stone and a Chosen People


As you come to Him the living Stone —rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

As for being fed strange food, I would argue that every Christian is largely responsible for self feeding, ie being in the Word every day. If we only rely on what we get on a Sunday we will spiritually starve to death. If you don't like what you are getting on a Sunday move to anther church take responsibility for what you are being fed!

Finally, Church is not only about a Sunday. Church is every Christian (a living stone) being what The Lord calls us to be 24/7, not just on a Sunday. Sunday has its place in God's overall plan, but it isn't, and was never meant to define Church!
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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Reaching Out > Evangelism - what's needed: what's missing?