Evangelism is at the heart of the Gospel of the kingdom. Jesus taught his disciples “As you go preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8). Jesus then commissioned all believers to teach the next generation his teachings in the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). Therefore, all believers have the same mandate to declare the goodness of God to those around them. If this is the Church’s calling, then why are Christians reluctant to evangelize?
I believe there are several reasons that could be a cause issues for believers:
- Fear of approaching others
- Not knowing what to say or share their faith
- Not educated on how to evangelize
- Don’t want to be like Stereotypical Christians (i.e. judgmental Christians preaching on the street corners forcing tracks out)
- Fear of man – the fear of what others would think of them
- Shame and guilt in their own lives so how could they share with others when they feel powerless
- Lack of love and compassion for others, part of American humanism and consumerism
Instead of focusing on the negative reasons why Christians don’t evangelize, I would rather focus on how believers can help change their hearts and outlook on evangelism so that it becomes a lifestyle of giving love away, instead of a mere discipline or “weekly outreach.”
- As mentioned above, Jesus commanded to minister to others. He taught us to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31) and he taught us to let our light out (Matt 5:16)! We need to have a healthy Biblical knowledge that to be like Jesus means to express our love for God to others. This does not mean we have to do it everyday or with every person we meet. But the call is to love others “As you go.” Love people as you go to school, grocery store or at work.
- The enemy would love for Christians to sit on the sidelines bound in their own shame, guilt, fear and condemnation. We need to realize that Jesus has overcome the devil and His love conquers all fear (1 John 4:18)! This means in order to be set free from fear we need to encounter his love. Love must be the motivation for why we share with others about our faith. This means we need to personally receive some healing and freedom so that we can give away healing and freedom to others.
- We need to walk in the power of God. Too many Christians just want to verbalize why people should choose Jesus in order not to go to hell. Jesus never evangelized this way as he rarely talked about hell. He always talked about his Father and his kingdom. Evangelism should be relational and it should be about showing others what it is like to live in God’s kingdom through love and demonstration of power. In Matt 10:7-8 Jesus taught them to speak and then demonstrate the kingdom. Paul said that the kingdom of God is not in talk, but in power (1 Cor 4:20). Demonstrations of power, like love, healings, deliverances, miracles and prophecies, force people to make a decision whether God is real when they see a supernatural sign and wonder. Power demands an awareness that there is a living God.
- Christians should practice! A very helpful place to begin is attending a conference called Power and Love (see www.powerandlove.org). This ministry is all about learning how to express the love and power of God on the streets, in grocery stores, at businesses and everywhere you go. I highly recommend watching some of the testimonies to encourage your faith.
- Faith is spelled R-I-S-K! It is okay to fail and it is okay to miss a word of knowledge or even pray for someone to get healed and it does not happen. When you are motivated by love then it is not about achievement or getting a testimony to prove that you are spiritual. When one has laid down their life for the Gospel then one is signing up to look foolish at times (1 Cor 4:10). Be willing to loose face in order bring the love of Christ to someone.
Example: This past Sunday I went into a convenient store in order to buy some coffee. I will be honest, I only had 3 hours of sleep. I was tired, groggy and just wanted to taste the sweet, warm, delicious drink before I headed to church without talking to anyone. As I swiped my credit card I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder. This is a supernatural word of knowledge that I have grown accustomed to receiving from the Lord when he desires to heal someone. I looked up at the cashier, Musafa, and I asked him, “This may be a weird question, but do you have pain in your left shoulder?” He said, “No. (He touched his shoulder) I work out.” I said, “Okay. I am a Christian and the Lord at times shows me people’s pain. So is your shoulder sore?” He said, “Yes!” I asked, “Can I pray for you?” He said, “Sure.” He placed his hand out and I prayed for all the pain to leave, the Lord also gave me some information about his family and I began to pray for that (again this is in front of other people who are in line to buy items). After I prayed a quick 15-30 second prayer I asked him to move his shoulder. I asked, “Is the pain gone.” His face lit up and said, “It’s tight!” (Honestly, I am not sure what that meant but he seemed pretty happy about it.) I told him, “Praise God! Jesus loves you so much and you felt his touch.” Musafa said, “Yeah, yeah, you come back here?” I said, “Yes, I will be back and check up on you.”
God calls us to sow seeds into other people. Musafa received a seed of the kingdom on Sunday, a kiss from his heavenly Father who is pursuing him. Now I get to pursue a relationship with Musafa and to let him know more about the God who touched him. My encouragement to you is this: don’t keep the love of Christ just for your own personal enjoyment; let people know about the amazing God who has transformed your life. You do not need to be perfect to tell others about God. Let your life be the message and at times let your words reveal why you do what you do because of your relationship with him. As the children’s songs says, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let is shine, let it shine!”