A lack of evangelistic fruit from the community is one of the main signs that a church is heading for trouble. The mission of the church is to make disciples who make disciples. But somewhere along the way, we forgot the Great Commission. We forgot that Jesus said, “Go and make disciples…” A study by Lifeway Research found that only 7% of churches could be classified as evangelistically effective churches. It’s no wonder that more than 3,000 churches across North America are in need of revitalization. Evangelism is not a priority in our churches.
Three reasons for our lack of evangelism.
- The Holy Huddle Syndrome – Most of us spend most of our time around other Christians. As Alvin Reid wrote in Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, “In our mastery of fellowship with the saints, we’ve lost a burden for a friendship with sinners. But Jesus was known as a friend of sinners (Luke 7).”
- The Angry Believer Syndrome – Some of us would rather yell at sinners for acting like sinners than share Jesus with them. Their lack of morality makes us angry. But it’s really hard to tell someone that Jesus loves them when we are so mad that we can’t see straight. We need to stop expecting lost people to act like anything other than lost people.
- The Billy Graham Syndrome – Most of us know at least one person who is a gifted evangelist. Some are evangelistic preachers like Billy Graham. Others are personal evangelists. We just know that we are neither. It is true that some people are called and gifted to be evangelists. But all of us are called to evangelism. Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17 ESV). The bottom line is this. If you aren’t fishing, you aren’t following.
How to become more comfortable in evangelism.
- Understand the gospel – In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul wrote, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you re being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” That is the gospel. God has a plan for every human heart, but sin has separated us from that plan. The result is brokenness. We are broken human beings. We know that something is not right. That’s where God steps in. As Romans 5:8 states, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for lost people. He died to fix broken people. And when we repent and believe the gospel, God restores us to his plan for our lives.
- Know your SHAPE – In The Purpose Driven Life, author and pastor Rick Warren points out that God has shaped every one of us for ministry. We need to know our SHAPE. This includes spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and life experiences. As the subtitle of this article suggests, God has uniquely shaped each of us to share the gospel. Know your spiritual gifts. Understand your personality. Identify your abilities. Discover the passion of your heart. And build on your life experiences. Then share the gospel. You are shaped to share!
- Spend time with lost people – Volunteer at a local school. Coach a little league team. Visit your neighbors. Do something to spend time with people who are far way from God. Do something to develop genuine relationships with lost people. But beware of the temptation to see people as projects. Do not seek to gain evangelistic notches on your belt or evangelistic trophies on your wall. Just learn to love lost people.
- Pray for lost people – I can not emphasize this enough. You and I can not save anyone. Jesus saves. We need to be praying without ceasing for lost people. We need to be praying for specific lost people. Call them by name. As you spend time with them, you will get to know what is going on in their lives. Talk to God about them. Ask him to soften their hearts. And ask him to give you insight and boldness as you love them and share the gospel.
- Share the gospel – Friends talk to each other. They have conversations. And in those conversations they share life with each other. Every conversation has the potential to become a gospel conversation. Over the past three decades I have learned virtually every evangelism tool there is. Evangelism Explosion. Continuing Witness Training. FAITH Evangelism. But I believe the best tool for sharing the gospel today is the 3 Circles approach developed by Jimmy Scroggins. You don’t have to be an evangelist to use this tool. You don’t have to be an extrovert to use it. Anyone can share the gospel using the 3 Circles. You can learn more about the 3 Circles by watching this video from the North American Mission Board.
You don’t have to be a trained and formal evangelist to share the Good News of Jesus. God created you for his purpose. He has shaped you to share. God uses ordinary believers like you and me to advance the gospel. Yet, 61 percent of evangelical Christians have not told anyone about Jesus in the last six months. Fellow followers of Jesus, it’s time to go fishing!