When I say “evangelism” what comes to mind?
Do you think of a person standing on the corner of the street screaming at the top of their lungs to those who walk by? Or do you think of evangelism as someone getting into an airplane traveling hundreds of miles away to help a town or village with a particular need like building stoves or running VBS and showing the Jesus movie for the kids in the area? Or maybe for you evangelism is sitting down with someone over a cup of coffee while you walk through a particular series of bible verses, like a recipe to share the gospel message?
What if I told you these are all forms of evangelism but only a narrow view of what evangelism actually is? What if I told you that evangelism is not something you do necessarily but something that you embrace and live out in everything that you do?
Would that intimidate you or would that set you free?
Allow me to suggest why I think evangelism conjures up so many emotions. Evangelism intimidates us not because it IS intimidating but because we’ve MADE it intimidating by having a small, narrow view of what it should look like.
Last Sunday was Pentecost when the church celebrates the Holy Spirit descending upon the disciples to proclaim the gospel message to a wide range of people. You know the whole Acts 2 story with a rush of mighty wind and tongues of fire. It’s also when Peter gives his famous sermon where three thousand people were added to their numbers. That was an amazing evangelistic moment for the Church, though I want to focus on what comes directly after Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:42. We read that those who believed devoted themselves to four things: teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer…and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
What if evangelism intimidates us because our narrow view of evangelism prevents us from seeing evangelism as a way of living for the Gospel in everything we do?
What if we had a much broader understanding that encompassed our daily actions as a witness for God, the love of Christ and what he did for us on the cross? By taking on this idea of what evangelism looks like, we are free to incorporate our passions and gifts that God has given us as a way to honor him and open up doors for us to share our faith through word and deed.
Francis of Assisi is credited for saying “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Though it is debated whether he actually said this, the meaning remains the same. It is a powerful reminder that we can be evangelistic and a witness in anything we do.
This summer we are moving into our City Season at Restoration where we take on an intentional focus on missions and evangelism.
The other good news we see in Acts 2 is that we don’t go alone and we don’t do it alone. In the gospels (John 16:7) Jesus tells his disciples that it is a good thing that he leave so that the Holy Spirit will come. Jesus gives us the command to go out and be witnesses but he sends us with the Spirit to empower us. Through his power we don’t have to count on our smarts or abilities but Christ goes before us and is already working in people’s hearts. Evangelism isn’t like a light switch that you turn on and off at will. Instead, it is something that you live into as the Spirit lives in you and reaches those around you.
Be open to the Spirit moving in your life today. Be aware of his presence and see how he is using you to do something. And, even if you don’t think you are an evangelist, I bet you have found yourself recommending a book, TV show or song to someone else. Guess what? You are an evangelist! It’s not that hard to share our lives with others. God is using you all day in ways you may not even realize.