Evangelism is one of the primary activities of the church. This makes sense when you consider God’s intention for Israel was to draw all nations so they could know him. Jesus instructed his followers to go and make disciples. The evangelist is one of the gifts to the church. The gospel message spread throughout Europe within the first few centuries of Christianity. Simply put, evangelism, or telling people about God is pretty important.
But I feel uncomfortable about it. I hear the word evangelism and my insides shrivel up. The word mission is a bit scary. I’m reserved, introverted. When God gave gifts out he sure didn’t give me evangelism. But that doesn’t let me, or those like me, off the hook. Jesus still expects me to tell people about him.
This can be overwhelming. Guilt can lead us toward feeling like we have to ‘share our faith’ all the time. Alternatively, we simply give up. We become inward focused and never look to tell others about Jesus. Neither of these actions are effective. The first makes us something we are not. And the second at best is disobeying what Jesus said, and at worst, goes against the Gospel message.
Perhaps one of the problems so many have is created by the term ‘evangelism’. Most people think of evangelism as telling people about Jesus. We feel like we need to get to the moment of asking them to accept Jesus. What if it were something more? What if you understood it as connecting people with Jesus? My wife once said ‘If evangelism is looking to simply share the love of God with people in ways that help them to know the hope that I have, that’s something I love to do.’ She shifted from struggling with the idea of evangelism to embracing it.
So what does evangelism look like for those of us who aren’t evangelists?
It is understanding that we connect people with Jesus as we go about our normal life. Evangelism isn’t an added aspect of following Jesus but a normal intrinsic everyday part of it. It is living the Gospel before speaking the Gospel. Think about it. Following Jesus means:
- Catching his vision.
Jesus’ whole mission was to connect people with God. How can we follow him without doing likewise?
- Doing what he did.
Jesus never shirked from connecting people with God but how did he do it? He went to parties, hung out with people others wouldn’t. Jesus placed value on women and children. He went to the sick. Connecting people with Jesus means engaging in relationships in the same way he did.
- Being in community.
Jesus didn’t give the Great Commission to individuals. Instead, he gave it to a community of followers. No one person was responsible for making disciples. Everyone has a role to play. How stressful is it when we believe that connecting people with Jesus is all up to us? Of course we do our part, but we can also trust that God will use others.
One last practical thing.
In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus says:
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
When was the last time you asked God to ‘send out workers’? Have you ever asked that you would be one of them?