by Andy McDonald
I asked the question on Sunday, “When was the last time that you told someone the good news of Jesus and specifically shared with them that they can become a Christian?” How do you respond when that question is directed to you?
I respond with a clash of guilt, frustration, justification, excuses, and, honestly, a deep longing to see people come to know Christ. My hope is that we can clear the field of guilt, shame, and condemnation in personal evangelism, but also encourage a boldness in our lives in sharing the story of our salvation, and welcome many into faith in Jesus.
The two lists that I am going to share can be found in Mark Dever’s The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. In Dever’s chapter on how we should evangelize, he calls for a balance of honesty, urgency, and joy in our personal evangelism:
Honesty – The deep truth that we believe as Christian is that if anyone repents and believes, they will be saved.
Urgency – The circumstances in which are currently are an opportunity to share. Right now, not when this… -or- if only that… -or- first, I just need to…
God’s mission and purpose--for the world to be reached for Christ--is present in your present.
Joy – We have GOOD NEWS; what we are called to share is a message of reconciliation and restoration. Our example is Christ, “who for the joy set before Him” endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Deep, abiding joy is our companion.
We may nod our head in agreement to the concepts of honesty, urgency and joy, but how do we apply them. Here are five practical suggestions:
“If the Bible teaches us that salvation come from the Lord, surely we should ask him to work among those we evangelize” (Mark Dever). Pray for three people, by name, each day. When you see them, remember that God is at work, and God is answering your prayer.
2. Use the Bible
Share a Bible verse with people. Ask them what they think about it. Share what it means to you. Let them interact with the source material that tells of salvation.
3. Be Clear
We have a fear of being rejected, or being seen as self-righteous. The best defense against these is the Gospel itself. We are all sinners and all need to be saved, and Jesus saves us. Explain ‘church-y’ words like “heaven, hell, sin, justification, salvation…” The truth is that people may still be offended. The Bible tells us that many will be offended--but we want to be clear in pointing to Jesus, not our own self-righteousness.
4. Provoke Self-Reflection
We tend to look at personal evangelism as something for the people we share with, when it is really for the building of our faith. As you share your faith with others, they will ask questions. Listen to them, explore them and apply the Gospel message. This will shape and deepen your understanding of the Gospel.
5. Use the Church
Inviting people to church is a step of evangelism--not because they will ‘get it’ but because it will display the priority of the Gospel in your life, and community that is forged and centered on the gospel will be an ongoing expression of the gospel in life.
As I said on Sunday, personal evangelism is not results. John Stott has said, “To ‘evangelize’… does not mean to win converts… but simply to announce the good news, irrespective of the results.” May we pray for God to save people, and may we rejoice in the mission to call people to faith.
Grace & Peace