In Revival and Evangelism I spent most of the post talking about revival and not evangelism. For the past several days I have been thinking about evangelism and different methods of evangelism.
So, first let’s look at the meaning of the word evangelism. According to Merriam-Webster On-line evangelism is “the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ; militant or crusading zeal”. Biblewalks.com refines the definition slightly “means preaching the gospel, or sharing the good news (Greek: euangelion, later: evangelion) of Jesus”. The Holman Concise Bible Dictionary (p. 207) defines evangelism as “Active calling of people to respond to the message of grace and commit to God in Jesus Christ. … Evangelism is the Spirit-led communication of the gospel of the kingdom in such a way or ways that recipients have a valid opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and become responsible members of His church.” I really prefer the last definition. Evangelism is or at least should be about more than just making new converts with great fervor or zeal.
Many times churches rely on events for evangelism. Events such as concerts, festivals or other programs can be useful evangelism tools. In some cases all the focus is placed on upon the event itself and not communicating the gospel. One church I attended each year put on a large Christmas production that revolved around 40-foot “singing” Christmas tree and included a huge choir, orchestra and drama. The gospel was presented through the production. In the beginning the tree was seen as an evangelistic tool but over years that one event became the focus for all evangelism in the church. Other evangelistic opportunities were regarded as unnecessary. Evangelism is more than one event per year. Sharing the Gospel with others should be an everyday occurrence.
At one time it was difficult for me to share my faith. I believed that I could just witness by the way I lived or lifestyle evangelism. I had a distorted view of evangelism and particularly lifestyle evangelism. For seem reason what I had learned from church was that you had to learn a specific format, memorize a presentation or hand out tracts to be effective with evangelism. Some tried to tell me that evangelism had to be in your face and I had to openly confront strangers with the fact they were lost and going to hell. All of those methods just made me uncomfortable. Evangelism involves more than just living a good life. It isn’t necessary to memorize a set presentation or carry tracts although they can be useful tools. I find that is more a matter of being prepared to give a clear presentation of the Gospel and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. While I have shared my faith with many strangers I have rarely if ever resorted to a confrontational “in-your face style of evangelism”. For me at least I find that it is more effective to build relationships and earn the right to share my faith with friends. I guess my preferred style of evangelism is relational evangelism.