Evangelism seems to be taking a back seat to almost every other kind of activity in churches today. Several authors have expressed concern about how even church plants can grow and do well but not reach the people that need to be reached the most, the lost. One recent survey was shocked at how many in full time ministry say they do not have the “gift” of evangelism. In John 4:35 Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
In The Evangelism Handbook Alvin Reid says, “The church growth movement influenced many in the latter half of the twentieth century. It offered a three-tiered look at the process of evangelism. The three components are these:
- P-1, Presence. For example, agricultural, medical missions.
- P-2, Proclamation. Presenting the gospel in an understandable manner.
- P-3, Persuasion. II Corinthians 5:11 encourages hearers to respond.
An analogy for this definition is a house.
In presence evangelism, people’s needs are met; they see a demonstration of the gospel, and, therefore, a foundation is built on which the gospel can be communicated. Because the church growth movement began on the mission field, its importance is obvious. Cross-cultural issues must be considered in a viable presentation of the gospel. Increasingly, in a post-Christian or even an anti-Christian culture in America, presence evangelism has a place. Servant evangelism (covered later) fits in nicely in our context.
Proclamation evangelism,to continue the house analogy, allows the light of the gospel to penetrate through the windows. People not only need a foundation, but they also need direction. The gospel can never be presented by a demonstration only; there must also be a proclamation.
Persuasion evangelism leads people into the relationship they need with Christ. One can live in a house and not be family; by persuading people to follow Christ, we are inviting them to join God’s family.
There are strengths and weaknesses to this definition. The weakness comes when believers define evangelism at the P-1 level only. We must build bridges, but we must also do more. Still others stop at the P-2 level. This definition is complete when we see it as a whole. That being said, it is positive in that when we are stopped short of a complete presentation of the gospel, we know we have at least provided some aspect of the gospel that the Holy Spirit can use. In other words, we should always seek to present Christ through presence, proclamation, and persuasion; but when we cannot, we can be thankful that on some level we have presented Christ.”
Reid defines evangelism as, “Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ by word and life in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that unbelievers become followers of Jesus Christ in His church and in the culture.” One problem is that many see the term “evangelize” as the work of the evangelist and the preacher proclaiming the good news in a formal setting. While that is true, it is also simply sharing the good news one on one. It is every child of God telling others the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for them. Every believer on this side of heaven owes every non-believer on this side of hell the gospel!
The gospel is the good news. It is not bad news and we need to share it with those God has placed in our circle of influence.
Here are three things to do:
- Pray for those you know who are not followers of Christ. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. You can share the good news but only God can transform a life.
- Ask God to show what you could do to build a bridge to them through an authentic relationship. People are farther away from the cross today which requires patience and starting with the very basics.
- Be willing to do whatever God shows you so that you might be able to share the good news with them. Once you have gained their trust they will then allow you to speak into their lives because they can see who you are, not just what you are saying!
Remember to be ready to listen to their story, share with them your story, but always be ready to share His story. We must pray for boldness and be ready and proactive in sharing the gospel with others. If we will begin our day by asking Him for an opportunity to share His love with someone He will provide that open door. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost and now we are His messengers!