I would define evangelism as teaching the gospel to unbelievers with the aim of persuading them to repent of their sins and to believe in Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls. We are to do this type of evangelism with our family members, friends, enemies, acquaintances, and strangers. As Christians, we have an obligation to bear witness to the glorious work of Christ to a lost and dying world.
Even though most Christians have a sense of this obligation, evangelism is something that most Christians find notoriously difficult. With this in mind, I wanted to point out six things that we can do in order to become faithful evangelists.
1) Know the Bible
Evangelism is largely a teaching moment. Whether you are seeking to evangelize your kids, co-workers, acquaintances, or strangers, you are going to have to teach them about God, Christ, sin, judgment, righteousness, faith, repentance, forgiveness, etc. These are weighty theological topics that fall within core doctrines of the Christian faith: creation, anthropology, soteriology, eschatology, etc. And if you are going to evangelize, you are going to have to be able to teach these topics to non-Christians.
Before you get overwhelmed by what you just read, it is important to add that you don’t have to know all aspects of every one of these doctrines! You don’t have to have the best definition, explanation, or argumentation of all the terms that I mentioned above. In all honesty, you don’t even have to have the best presentation of these doctrines. Nevertheless, you should strive to be the best teacher that you can possibly be as you articulate these biblical truths to unbelievers.
Therefore, seek to know the Bible. Become well acquainted with the teachings of Scripture. Listen to good sermons when you have time. Ask knowledgeable people weighty questions and allow them to teach you. Memorize simple definitions of certain biblical terms like repentance, faith, justification, and reconciliation. This will equip you to teach biblical truths in winsome ways. Simply put, the more you know the Bible the better you will be at evangelism.
2) Be in Prayer
As a child of God, you have access to God’s throne. He is the King of the universe. Make petitions to Him. Make big petitions to Him. Request great things from Him. Ask Him to give you opportunities to speak about Christ. Ask Him to give you wisdom, boldness, and clarity as you teach people about Christ during evangelistic encounters. Ask Him to save those whom you have the opportunity to teach about Jesus. You must be in prayer for these things.
The importance of this is seen in the life of the apostle Paul. Paul asked the churches to whom he was writing to pray these types of prayers on his behalf. And trust me, if the apostle Paul needed the church to pray on his behalf in regard to some of these things, then we most certainly need to be praying for them!
We also need others praying for us. Get a couple of friends that you attend church with and begin praying for one another’s evangelistic efforts. After one of you has the opportunity to evangelize, be sure to encourage your friends by telling them that God was gracious in answering their prayers. If somebody you evangelize ends up confessing that Jesus is Lord, be sure to tell your friends. This will create a culture of evangelism that fosters encouragement and endurance.
3) Be Holy
Personal holiness is, by far, what is left out of most conversations when it comes to evangelism. This shouldn’t be the case! Our personal holiness is instrumental in our evangelistic efforts. As Christians, we are to be a distinct people. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we take orders from a King that reigns over all. In light of this, we are to be a people that are other-worldly.
We are to speak in a manner that reflects the goodness, graciousness, and compassion of our King. We are to live in accordance with our King’s ethic; being careful to walk in our King’s statutes. We are to look carefully at how we use our time, and we are to live such godly lives that those outside of Christ take notice. This is why, when it comes to personal witnessing, the Bible often assumes that we are going to be responding to unbelievers as they ask us questions.
You see, when we live in such a way that is consistent with biblical teaching, people are convicted. People begin to ask questions. When we answer their questions, our answers have credibility because it is backed up by a holy life. This means that, if we are going to be faithful evangelists, then we need to be holy evangelists.
4) Be a Conversationalist
Far too often we strive to get through our days seeking to have the least amount of meaningful conversations as possible. We go to work, do our job, participate in small talk, and then go home. We go to retail businesses, keep our conversations brief, and then head home. We go to family events, look at our watches, stay away from substantive conversations, and then get back in our cars. This is not good!
If we are going to be faithful evangelists, then we must change our conversation habits. We must become conversationalists. We need to be intentional in carrying conversations longer than 1-2 minutes. We need to ask questions that allow for further conversation. We also need to ask questions that intentionally guide the conversation to something substantive and helpful. If we want to do this, we’ll have to learn how to steer conversations beyond the shallow waters of everyday small talk and into the sea of meaningful discussions! If we can do this, then we will have many more opportunities to speak to people about Christ.
5) Take a Genuine Interest in People
If you have ever purchased a used car, then you know what it is like for an individual to ask you questions, seem friendly, talk with you, and laugh with you, all the while not caring a lick about you. This happened to me recently. Kahlie and I thought we had a new best friend. We were having a good time with this used car salesmen. Then, once I told him we weren’t interested in buying the car he was showing us (I had already told him in the beginning that I was not looking to buy a car that day), he completely shut down. His whole demeanor changed . . . . talk about awkward!
We, as Christians, cannot afford to be this way. We don’t merely want to have substantive conversations with people just so we can sneak the gospel in. Rather, we want to genuinely take an interest in people! With this in mind, spend time with people. Buy them lunch. Go out for coffee with them. Ask them how their family is doing. See if there is any way that you can serve them when they are going through a difficult season. Just be a friend to them. Simply and sincerely treat them as image bearers of God! And as we do this, we will have more and more opportunities to speak to them about Christ. Also, they will be much more inclined to listen to us.
During my Christian walk, I have noticed that people are more likely to serve Christ when: 1) The task is relatively short and simple, 2) The fruit born from the task is quickly seen, and 3) The service opportunity will end with encouragement and affirmation.
Because of what I just mentioned about, most Christians do not evangelize. Evangelism is not short and simple. Evangelism takes time, and to engage somebody in a conversation about spiritual things is pretty difficult. And if that wasn’t bad enough, in evangelism, you rarely see fruit. You speak to people, you love them, you serve them, but you rarely see them come to faith in Christ. This can be debilitating. And here is the real kicker, the people you are talking to usually aren’t going to encourage or affirm you for what you’re doing! In all honesty, they’ll more than likely discourage you and disagree with what you are doing. They may even personally attack you.
Consequently, if we want to be faithful evangelists then we must persevere. We must persevere through the difficulty of evangelizing. We must persevere through the seasons of evangelism where we don’t see fruit. And lastly, we must persevere through the endless amount of times people will dislike us because of our evangelism. If we can persevere through all of these, then we will be faithful evangelists.
Though more could be said, I believe the six things mentioned above could help you become a faithful evangelist. Whether you are in high school, on a college campus, in the work place, parenting children, or in a retirement home, doing these six things in faith could help you live a faithful and fruitful evangelistic life that brings glory to God!