Evangelism isn’t a four-letter word

Clearly, in my sermon this Sunday, I’m going to have to help the congregation overcome the very real and completely understandable apprehension we have about “doing evangelism,” which is more or less synonymous with “witnessing.”

Here’s a trailer for a Rob Bell video about “bullhorn guy”—you know, the street preacher with the bullhorn who imagines that he’s witnessing effectively. I see guys like this at the corner of North Avenue and Techwood every time I go to a Georgia Tech football game. One point I’ll stress on Sunday is that just because so many people do evangelism poorly doesn’t excuse us from doing it at all.

At the end of this blog post by Scot McKnight, followed by much commentary, evangelical writer Joe Carter proposes ways in which he believes we (evangelical Protestant) Christians can do evangelism better, which I share with you on this blog so that I can remember it later. 🙂 I really, really like #5. Anyway, here goes…

1. Immerse oneself completely in God and and his Word and surround yourself with his Bride. — Our evangelism should come as a natural outgrowth of our love for God. We have no problem telling people about the great movie/product/restaurant we discovered because we are genuinely excited about them. If we get that excited about God—and not just about what he’s done for us—then evangelism will become second nature.

2. Be able to clearly communicate the core message of the Gospel – Most people in our culture have no problem wrapping their minds around the fact that God loves us (why wouldn’t He? We’re wonderful!). But they have a hard time understanding the concept that we are deserving of hell. We need to relearn how to explain to people that it’s about God, not about what he can do for them. Everyone knows God exists, no matter how much they try to deny it. What they don’t know is that they are in need of redemption. If we don’t get that point across then we have failed them.

3. Get to know the people you are trying to bring to Christ – You don’t have to know them for years, but for goodness sake’s, at least learn their name. Let’s show that we care about them as people and not just as a disembodied soul that will be sent to hell when they die if we don’t intervene. Let’s show that we are excited about seeing them for eternity in the New Jerusalem by being able to give them our attention here on Earth.

4. Let’s show that evangelism is a longterm process – We may merely be the ones that are sowing the seed. But if its within our ability, we should be helping them to grown in their faith—or at least helping them to find someone who can carry out the task of making a disciple out of them.

5. Forget “techniques” of evangelism; focus on being disciples who evangelize – The focus on techniques arose out of industrial-era fascination with effectiveness and teachable routines. Some of it was helpful, most of it was counterproductive. Forget trying to learn some five point process (like this one!) and spend time in spiritual disciplines that make you a better follower of Christ. From there, go where the Holy Spirit leads and do whatever he tells you to do.

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