This is the final blog post in our series "Abide: Grace-Fueled Practices of Spiritual Discipline." Click the links below to read the previous posts.
Let’s be honest, some spiritual disciplines require more discipline than others. And evangelism is arguably the least popular of the disciplines. I don’t hate the idea of snuggling up with my Bible and prayer journal, or spending intentional time with fellow believers. But I, along with most of evangelicals, have mild PTSD from well-intentioned evangelism gone awry—hurt feelings, burned bridges, and enough awkwardness to last a lifetime. It’s as common as it is comfortable for evangelicals to prioritize the other disciplines first to prepare us to share the gospel. But this mentality in and of itself is contrary to what the gospel preaches: “and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4–5). If we want to look like Jesus, we cannot neglect prioritizing evangelism.
“For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)
We are all gospel sharers of something. Every day we sift, scroll, like, and share an unending series of gospels. Social media has provided a pulpit, enabling and equipping common folk to preach whatever we see fit. Freedom of speech has never been as free or as public. When we are convinced that something is exceptional, we lose all chill. We become snap-and-share maniacs. New restaurants, makeup lines, music, puppy videos—these are things our people cannot live without. I am a herald of this good news and I feel no hesitation to post things like: “EVERYONE I KNOW: Watch and be blessed,” with a video link of a micro pig eating Cheerios. But I lack the same fervor to share the gospel.
This is ironic.
I would tell anyone that Jesus is the most important thing in my life. I would tell anyone that he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I might even go so far as to take a hit on the number of likes I get and share a Bible verse or two on my Instagram feed. And yet, I am still reluctant to speak his name to my coworker, neighbor, or friend. I still hesitate and talk myself out of telling people about him.
But if we want to look and live like Jesus, it makes sense to study his life and model ours after his. You can’t look at the life of Christ and miss the evangelism component. It is what he did. Jesus approached evangelism with intentionality and strategy, but also with confidence and ease. He tethered every word he spoke to Scripture and to the gospel, so it wasn’t as if he turned evangelism on and off. Pointing to God was the very essence of who he was. And if I want my life to look like his, I simply cannot excuse my way out of the very thing that marked every hour of every day of the last three years of his life. Yes, Jesus prayed; yes, he taught his disciples; yes, he was saturated in Scripture—because he was the Word made flesh (John 1:1–5). But his days were filled with interactions and interruptions while he and his squad went throughout the region sharing the gospel with anyone and everyone who would listen.
Let’s break this down. Jesus shared the gospel:
Intentionally. He went about his life in and out of towns and villages for weddings, Passover, and visiting family, but as he went he made it a priority to share the gospel wherever he was. Sometimes people would approach him, like Nicodemus (John 3:1–2), and other times he would stumble upon people as he traveled like the man who was blind from birth (John 9:1). He didn’t wait idly for the conversation to present itself, but intentionally and boldly engaged people in spiritual discussion.
Do you approach evangelism with intentionality or passivity?
Strategically. Jesus went out of his way to position himself near people who needed to hear the gospel. He took a circuitous route through Samaria so he would cross paths with the woman at the well (John 4:4–5). He found out where the prostitutes, the homeless, the tax collectors, and the other societal pariahs would be. Jesus strategically positioned himself around those who wanted nothing to do with faith and intentionally spoke into their needs.
Do you have friends who aren’t believers? If not, what are you doing to build relationships with people who don’t believe what you do?
With anyone and everyone. Jesus tethered every word to the gospel or to Scripture. He shared the gospel with the masses (John 6:2–3), with individuals he met along the way (John 11:1–3), with his family (Luke 8:19–21), and with his disciples who were already believers (Luke 9:23–26). He missed no opportunity and even created opportunities to share the gospel—with believers and nonbelievers alike. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves, to our spouses, children, friends, and coworkers because we never graduate from it.
Do you consistently preach the gospel to yourself and your people? If not, why?
More than obedience and saving souls and all of the other important reasons for sharing the gospel, every time I share it I also become more convinced of the gospel. My love is rekindled. I am reminded of God’s grace and my need for him. And amidst my fear and awkwardness I’m led to praise that a mess like me would have the privilege of pointing to him.
Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s a helpful action plan:
First, pray. Ask God to reveal to you the evangelism opportunities that already exist in your life. Ask God to provide additional opportunities. Ask God for a boldness that transcends your personality. Ask God for a transition in conversation. He cares about this far more than you do.
Next, take the conversation to something deeper. Sure, there’s a time and place to talk about diaper cream and foundation primer, but if you are only ever keeping conversation at surface level with your nonbelieving friends and family, don’t be surprised if they feel caught off guard by a leap into eternity. Be willing to share the difficulties in your life and how you have hope because of the gospel.
Then, ask questions and listen. Fight the urge to talk at people. Ask questions about hope, priorities, passions, what is important in life, how a friend navigates challenges in life, how they want to be remembered. Listen, ask more questions, and listen. This will lead the person you’re talking with to consider things beyond the immediate and get the deeper wheels turning.
“The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert Emerson Coleman
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