Evangelism 2 – Endure
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4v5
Dealing with Evangelism
All Christian Disciples are called to do the work of evangelism. Not everyone will be an evangelist, yet we are called to tell and show others about Jesus – that is evangelism.
a. Overcoming barriers. There are at least six main reasons why Christian Disciples do not evangelise:
- · Do not know the bible well enough to answer questions
- · Entire friends are already Christian Disciples
- · Testimony is perceived to be dull and tedious
- · Others will wonder what took you so long, if you evangelise them now
- · Don't know if my friends are true Christian Disciples or not
- · There is no easy way to tell the Gospel
Christian Disciples overcoming these hindrances, are then liberated to evangelise their local community.
b. Early starters! New believers were actively encouraged to evangelise from the time of their conversion. There seems as if there was not a two step process of conversion and then later undergoing evangelism training. More likely, that they gained perceptions about evangelism, whilst they were being evangelised. Evangelism is to be what a Christian Disciple is, rather than an activity that a Christian Disciple engages in.
c. Changing perceptions! The approach to evangelism has changed over the last few years. As Christian Disciples, it is the job of all Christian Disciples to evangelise and witness about Jesus, using the skills and perceptions they inherently hold. We are not to leave it up the Billy Graham’s and Luis Palau’s of this world. There is not just one style of evangelism. Interpersonal, invitational, serving, testimonial intellectual or confrontational styles are available for churches and Christian Disciples to use. An Christian Disciple's use of any or all of these styles would be dependent on their own personality, talents and skills.
d. Lead by example! New Testament church leaders led by example, and actively persuaded others to do as they did. Paul commanded that the Corinthian church follow him as he imitated Jesus (1 Corinthians 11v1) This is a model imbued with dynamism, by which others can go on doing the work in their own way, without relying upon the church leaders!
e. Lead by teaching! As evangelism is prayed about, activated upon, discussed and enacted, Christian Disciples undergo evangelism training, even if they aren't aware of it at the time. A good method is for training to be given, not just as a one off exercise but throughout the year. The reason for this, is so that every member has an opportunity to undergo some formal training when it is convenient for them as they see the leadership committed to evangelistic training! This training needs to be promoted from the front, so that every member can see the seriousness that the leadership think about evangelism. Bill Hybels recommends that every member of his church undergo evangelism training every two years!.
f. Neither powerless or alone! The main lesson for Christian Disciples to learn, is that evangelism can only truly be effective when undertaken under an umbrella of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit's power and authority, which allows the skills and talents of all people to be used as effective Gospel messengers. As Christian Disciples we need to continue reminding ourselves that it is Jesus Christ who is building the church, and that with the Holy Spirit's power, we are neither alone nor powerless! After all, He is a Holy Spirit of evangelism. That is why as Christian Disciples, we need not fear the supposed rise of fundamental atheism or any other religion or –“ism”. We have the power of the Living God within us, to equip and use us for His glory and mission. People may be able to remove the supposed ‘spirit of Christmas’ from schools and other government buildings, but they can never take away the Spirit of Christ that indwells all Christian disciples.
g. Innovative evangelism! Not only would this make it new for the congregation, but possibly add an element of excitement, particularly if old evangelistic methods are being employed, and seemingly ineffective. Some ideas such as, having a prayer stall at the local market, or taking over a vacant shop on the high street for the explicit purpose of praying for people. The church could offer the use of its website as a local community forum, or 'virtual local community hall, for community notices. Another way would be to hold internet-based events and/or forums, so that those who are housebound or are part of what some call the Internet Generation, have a platform to converse and discover about Christianity, particular for their youth and student work. Rightly or wrongly, the truth is that people are gathering like that, and discussing Christian issues. New methods also can be seen as making use of every opportunity, or as Michael Green puts it “godly opportunism”.
When in Corinth, despite his nervousness and worries, Paul knew God was in control (Acts18v10) and that’s why he stayed a further 18 months following his vision where God promised protection, security and companionship (Acts18v11). Paul endured in the face of opposition (Acts18v12-16). The Jews went to the Roman proconsul Gallio, complaining that Paul had started a new religion, for starting new religions was forbidden under Roman law. Anything that was a religion before the Romans assimilated was seen as a legitimate religion ie Judaism. Gallio however dismissed the Jewish case as mere internal bickering about minor details, and kicked the case out of court as it were. In doing so, Gallio had now made Christianity a legitimate religion within the Roman Empire, and this is why Paul stayed in Corinth a good deal longer (Acts18v18). Paul did not succumb to the temptations around him, because he only sought one thing – to declare “Jesus and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2v2). Perhaps that is how Paul won Sosthenes for Jesus Christ, as we read in 1 Corinthians 1v1, how he was travelling with Paul at the time of writing.
The world around likes to play clever tricks with us, just as the Jews did with Paul in Corinth. But we are to be, as Jesus commanded in Matthew 10v16, “shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” We are to stay faithful to Jesus and sometimes it is difficult! It means staying faithful to Jesus and His will, regardless of opposition and alternatives. By doing this we endure and remain faithful to Him.
For more to think about please do read 1 Thessalonians 1v3-10, ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Q1. What are the barriers that you need to overcome in order for you to evangelise?
Q2. Are you enduring and being persistent in your Christian lifestyle and evangelism?
Q3. How am I as a Christian Disciple, living a life that is shrewd like a snake and harmless as a dove?