Old-Time Evangelism, Part One
Let's go way, way back to the beginning of the Church. Let's use their method of evangelism. You have to admit that the first-century Church would have been doing old-time evangelism.
The Bible depicts the assembly as an all-day affair of fellowship, teaching the Word, extensive prayer, and eating together. During the meal, the Lord's Supper service was administered just as it was on the night Jesus was betrayed.
Let's leap forward to modern-day America. Inviting people to come to the church in America is not equal to an evangelism event. It's not a bad thing, and they might hear the Gospel the Sunday they choose to come, but it is not usually a meeting for the purpose of evangelism. It is usually for Christian growth and encouragement. And, as my other Blogs have pointed out, these days non-believers are seldom showing up at church. And we are probably not inviting them.
So, do you know how "to do evangelism"? Have you actually engaged a person in a conversation about Jesus out there in the marketplace or at work?
Let's take this apart and look at it a minute. Have you been trained to talk naturally to someone about your faith in Jesus Christ? Have you been present--actually been an observer-- when a person was being talked to about being a Christian? Have you been present when a person was invited to pray and ask Jesus into their life and heart?
What is evangelism, anyway? Evangelism (Gospelling) is sharing the Good News about eternal salvation from sins available in and through Jesus. It is a deliberate and personal activity that a Christian does with another person or persons. Evangelism is being a living example as well as being the source of information about Jesus.
Living the Christian life at work and in the neighborhood is, in most cases, the first step. It is a Christian living as an example of how Jesus changes a person. In other words, a growing, committed Christian just has to act naturally. No need to fake it. Followers of Jesus are the ambassadors of Christ who carry the Good News about salvation available in Jesus. This salvation is a rescue of a person from the ultimate destiny for the sons of Adam, which is Hell (God's garbage dump).
Evangelism is seizing opportune times to tell people about Jesus and to ask them to believe in Him. The Holy Spirit prompts a Christian. Christians begin to get skilled and wise about when to share and when to build on the relationship.
The spreading of the Good News about Jesus is the reason for "gospelling" or evangelism. Actually, the word Gospel is an old English word that means the following:
The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon term god-spell, meaning “good story,” a rendering of the Latin evangelium and the Greek euangelion, meaning “good news” or “good telling.” [NOTE: I found this online with no credits given but it is commonly known by students of the Bible.]
The church is the prayer meeting, teaching center, encouragement source, fellowship experience, and ministry hub to one another in the Body of Christ. That doesn't mean people do not ever "get saved" in a church service, of course. Yet they are probably there because a neighbor shared with them and they wanted to know more.
As noted in previous articles the tactic of telling people about the church and sometimes inviting them does not fly in post-Christian America. We need to get back to the method the Apostles used to lay the foundation of the Assembly of Christians.
The Christian is not usually aware of the observations taking place by colleagues at work (or in the neighborhood or at the PTA meeting). God, nevertheless, prompts Christians to minister to people, talk to people, and be friendly. This lifestyle of a secure person being kind and showing love sends another message. The message is "this person is one who is safe to talk about what I am wondering concerning him or her."
With some interested people, it is a better approach to simply converse. Each case has some differences dictating the best approach. At first, with the majority of the interested ones, just conversing, without the sales pitch, smoothes the way. Hitting them prematurely with a direct call to commitment drives, perhaps scares, most away. Christians are not cold-call salesmen, they are witnesses.
One of the greatest ways to begin a conversation, make a point, or to assess the interest level is to ask questions as Jesus did. Try it. Experiment with it. We all can practice asking questions that draw out the person who has shown openness to talk.
These questions should probably not be biblical questions or philosophical questions in the beginning. They likely should not have anything at all to do with the Gospel at all. They should have the purpose of building the relationship, assessing the level of interest, and ascertaining the level of understanding and knowledge of God and of Christianity.
Christians outside of the home, working or shopping in "the marketplace" (that is, at work, at school, at the supermarket, etc.) are the delivery apparatus. A Christian makes friends at work, home, school, or the neighborhood. Then, at the right time, that Christian becomes the delivery system for the message about forgiveness, about repentance (which is a change of heart and mind), and about Eternal Life in Jesus. The Holy Spirit leads us in this endeavor, so we are not alone.
You might be wondering how this sharing of your faith gets done. First, you communicate you are a believer and had an experience of inviting Jesus into your heart. You tell them how you felt and how it changed your life. If they are interested they will ask questions. If they show no interest, change the subject and wait until later. Remember, Jesus is more interested in people being saved than you are interested in people being saved. He will lead you. He will prompt you. Be sensitive to the leadership of the Spirit and do not give way to the flesh. Keep your ego out of it.
In the next article, I will give you a script as an example of how a conversation about salvation with a non-believer in Jesus might unfold. ##