For the next two weeks we want to ask and answer the question: what is evangelism and how can we do evangelism as a culture in a biblical and healthy way?
Evangelism is a word that carries negative connotations, at least to me, due to my experience, and others have similar experiences.
One goal I’d like for us to set is to reclaim that word as a healthy and positive and biblical word.
The other goal I’d like us to set is to practice evangelism as a culture not a legalistic mandate on fearful people nor is it a party for a few “gifted” people.
Often we cop out of the pleasure of telling the good news by bowing to our insecurities, false ideas and lies spoken to us by the enemy.
We are insecure because we can’t answer every objection or are not good speakers.
We have the false notion that evangelism is only for those gifted with the “gift” of evangelism.
We buy the lies of the enemy that tell us we are unworthy of doing evangelism because we sin and are not perfect and, after all, who are we to be telling someone about the gospel when we have such a hard time living in the truth.
Are there times when we could have tarnished our character? Sure. Must we be aware of those times? Sure. But my hunch is they are less than we might imagine and are used by the enemy to create lethargy. If we are in sin, then we need to repent, trust in the gospel for our righteousness and get after preaching.
Let’s toss these objections in favor of the truth: It’s our job to preach the good news and our standing is not in our merit but in the power of the cross.
Evangelism as a word comes from passages like Matthew 11:5 that says “…the poor have the good news preached to them.”
“Good news preached”, is one word “euangelidzo”. It means to bring/tell/preach good news.
Jesus called the message he came to bring “euangelidzo”, good news, in Luke 4:18.
Therefore our message is Jesus’ message of good news.
The question that inevitably comes up is, “what is the good news?” This is a good question because there is no single set of verses that tell us the full and authorized message of the gospel. The reason is because it’s the metanarrative of the whole bible.
The closest we have is 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 and it says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”
Key in this passage is that Christ died for sins and was buried and raised on the third day and that he appeared giving proofs of his resurrection. But note that there is a reason why Jesus died, was buried, and rose on the third day. All of these actions Jesus did are in accordance with the Scriptures. In other words, Jesus’ work in his incarnation is in agreement with the Scriptures of the Old Testament.
Let me say it another way. The gospel is a complete metanarrative of which Jesus is the anticipated hero who would come and be and bring the good news of a resolution to the curse from the fall through his death, burial and resurrection.
When we tell of Jesus to people who did not live when Jesus came the first time we need to set the nucleus of the message (his death, burial and resurrection) inside the correct setting of the entire metanarrative.
It is a good end to try and set the nucleus of the message inside the entire metanarrative.
That metanarrative is Creation / Fall / Redemption / Restoration.
Let me be clear. If all one can do is tell who Jesus is and that he came, died, rose, proved his resurrection and ascended to rule and will one day return, they have not failed. The Holy Spirit can take that powerful message and wreck a fallen creature into life.
What we strive to do is place the core message of the gospel into the setting of history so that mankind can see not only what will save them but also to inform them that they need saving and that through their saving they can find an eternal purpose in following Jesus to subdue all domains under the headship of King Jesus.
So, that’s the gospel / good news message.
Evangelism is, therefore, the telling / preaching of that good news.
Mack Stiles adds to his definition of evangelism the phrase “with an aim to persuade.” I would agree with that.
We want people to know and we want them to follow Jesus.
However, lets keep some things in mind:
- Our persuasion is not in place of the Holy Spirit, whose job persuasion is
(see John 3).
- Our persuasion is not using fear tactics to get decisions (John 1:13).
- Our persuasion is in the form of invitation to repent and believe.
So, what is the most biblical and healthy way to go about doing evangelism today?
Create A Culture of Evangelism
If you think it through, there is no way that we could fit every non-Christian each of us comes in contact with daily into multiple TRCC campuses. So, events that focus on simply bringing people to see or hear some special even would be less effective than each person simply telling the good news and then bringing their friends or new acquaintances, who are responding in some fashion, with them to church.
According to Barna 1% of those surveyed said they came to faith in Jesus through television or some type of program / media.
Also, according to Barna 43% said they came to faith through hearing the gospel from a friend or family member.
That’s pretty clear how our current climate needs to be exposed to the good news.
We don’t want to criticize too heavily older and past methodologies because the Father, Son and Spirit have worked in history through many means to call out the hidden people into the light of the gospel to be a treasured people of the Lord Jesus.
Culture is a powerful force. Culture is that unseen set of values that drive something. We know our culture of KDSC and that drives us to the mission of the glory of God local and global through being and producing radical followers of Jesus.
So, when talking about a culture of evangelism, we want a culture that has common biblical ideas, biblical language and shared biblical actions.
We want our church to be a “loving community committed to sharing the gospel as part of an ongoing way of life, not the occasional evangelistic raid event.”
- A culture motivated by love for Jesus and his gospel
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
- A culture that is confident in the gospel
- A culture that understand the danger of entertainment
- A culture that sees people clearly
2 Corinthians 5:16a
- A culture that pulls together as one
- A culture in which people teach one another
2 Timothy 1:13
- A culture that models evangelism “passed on”
2 Timothy 2:2
- A culture in which people who are sharing their faith are celebrated
- A culture that knows how to affirm and celebrate new life
Colossians 1:3-4, 7
- A culture doing ministry that feels risky and is dangerous
- A culture that understands the church is the chosen and best method of
We Want to Connect A Culture of Evangelism To The Function of the Church
“A culture of evangelism is grassroots, not top down.”
This means that in a church where there is a culture of evangelism everyone is part of everyone’s evangelistic outreach not bystanders watching the pastors do evangelism with programs.
Listen to the Lord Jesus:
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Later on in the same setting, as he prays for the disciples and us, Jesus prays we would be unified “so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21).
“Jesus says the love we have for one another in the church is a statement that we are truly converted. And when we are unified in the church, we show to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Love confirms our discipleship. Unity confirms Christ’s deity. What a powerful witness!”
When we talk about a culture of evangelism, remember that when Jesus builds his church he did not forget the good news of the kingdom. The church has built in gospel pointers in our love and unity through functioning together in the mission of the church.
The whole church plays a role in healthy evangelism.
What is the church? What are the critical parts that actually make an organization the church?
- What the church is – A local church is a gathering of baptized, born-again Christians who covenant together in love to meet regularly under the authority of the Scriptures and the leadership of the elders to worship God, be a visible image of the gospel, and, ultimately, to give God glory (John 3:1-8; 13:34-35; Acts 2:41; 14:23; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 10:24-25)
- What the church does – A church must do only a few things to be a church: the people regularly gather in gospel love to hear the Word preached, sing, pray, give and practice the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Members, those who have covenanted together, lovingly care for one another (1 Cor. 12:12-26), even through the practice of church discipline (Matt. 18:15-17).
- What the church’s mission is – The church is God’s strategic plan for evangelism with one overarching mission: to go to all peoples to make disciples, teaching them to obey everything Christ has commanded – including forming new churches (Matt. 28:18-20).
This is super simple and not intended to be complicated, but this work of the church is supernatural and hard to pull off because the church is comprised of former sinners who are learning to live in the kingdom.
Understanding what the church is, what it does and what its mission is provides us with the key to understanding a culture of evangelism.
Evangelism emanates from the church that oozes the gospel built into its form. The problem is often we create forms that neglect gospel proclamation from sources other than the preacher.
If one ignores the church’s definition it neglects the corporate nature of the gospel proclamation that the church makes.
In making disciples we are to baptize. Baptism pictures the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Baptism shows how Jesus death is our death and how his life is our life.
This is one reason we like to do baptisms in public and / or invite people who are interested to come and see.
In gathering we take the Lord’s Supper. The Supper proclaims the death of Christ until he returns.
When we pray we pray for the things of God.
When we sing, we sing of the greatness of God in the gospel and all that he has done for us.
When we give, we are funding the advance of the gospel through displaying that God is worthy of our sacrifice of giving and that we trust his provision.
Greeting people with kindness and a welcoming smile.
The preaching of the Word brings the gospel to bear on its hearers.
All parts of the body, moving together in unison, exercising their gifts creates a culture of evangelism in which every member is an effective witness through their personal telling of the gospel and those they are telling the gospel to getting to interact with others in the church to taste the supernatural kingdom through a myriad of gospel indicators.
Here are some keys to connecting a culture of evangelism to the church.
- Be a witness for the gospel.
- Be covenanted to the local church.
There is no category for a “Christian” who is not part of the local church in Scripture.
- Don’t confuse personal obedience with a mandate on the whole church.
What we mean by this is that a person’s personal conviction about sharing the gospel with certain people is not to become the pastor’s mandate or other people’s mandate.
Example: Everyone should hang out and do evangelism with people they don’t know.
Some folks are good with that and love the adventure of it, and some people are mortified at such a thing.
Do what you are compelled and skilled to do.
One should proclaim the gospel in their domain of society, invite people to come and taste the goodness of the kingdom in the church and everyone should be living obediently so that they don’t cause that person to stumble when then engage.
- Make it your aim to be completely the Lord’s instrument in every moment.
This was Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret.
- Take a long-term view of your evangelistic efforts as part of culture of evangelism.
- Be an active worshiper.
One of the best means of having a culture of evangelism is the active worship of each individual as part of a whole.
We don’t mean only the singing of songs, but the whole experience of being present, pleasantly greeting one another, anticipating the start of corporate worship, singing with gusto, rightly approaching the Lord’s Supper, greeting each other with the reminder of the peace of the Lord through the reconciling work of the cross, listening attentively to the word, responding in song with joy, ministering to each other with our gifts in RL groups and in all this being an aroma of Christ to those who are perishing.
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”
 Mack Stiles, Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), p. 26.
 Each of these main points are adapted from Mack Stiles’ book referenced above.
 Ibid. p. 47.
 Ibid. p. 47.
 We are taking all 11 points here from Mack Stiles.
 Quotes mine
 Ibid. p. 65.
 Ibid. p. 63.
 Ibid. p. 71.
 Ibid. p. 71.