Insights on Evangelism, aka “Witnessing”
Evangelism concerns being a witness for the Lord, as conveyed by Christ here:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Most people think evangelism only involves sharing the message of Christ and encouraging a person to say the sinner’s prayer, but—as wonderful as those may be—witnessing involves much more. Observe Christ’s details on evangelism here:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
To “make disciples” means to make students of the Lord. The Greek verb for ‘make disciples’ is mathéteuó (math-ayt-YOU-oh), which literally means to make people learners of Christ, that is, true students/servants of the Lord. You can read more about this here. Making learners of Christ includes helping people to progressively learn about God through the sharing of scriptural truth, as well as being an example in lifestyle, not to mention regularly praying for them. When this is done, the genuine disciple will inevitably grow spiritually.
So true evangelism is more than just coercing people to say the “sinner’s prayer.” After all, what good is saying such a prayer if the person’s faith isn’t fed and no godly example is set for them? Is it any surprise that such “converts” often fall back into the ways of the world? We have to get away from this shallow idea that witnessing is all about believers accumulating notches. What good is that “notch” if the convert merely says these words—a prayer of salvation—but continues to live as an unbeliever? In such cases the words are hollow and the “notch” is meaningless.
It’s true that some witnessing situations will be a matter of “planting a seed,” like someone you happen to meet at the airport or on a plane. Yet—even in those situations—you can get personal info to keep in touch and intercede for him/her. However, if the person lives in your area you can invite them to a Bible study or church assembly. If the individual shows no interest in feeding their newfound faith and growing in the Lord I would seriously question the legitimacy of their salvation prayer. If this is unfortunately the case you can still keep them in prayer and hope for a more serious conversion down the line; that is, an authentic one.
Tips on Evangelizing
Focus on your personal relationship with the Lord, first and foremost, so that the Fountain of Life—God—pours life into you (Psalm 36:9 & John 10:10). And then share that life with those in whom you naturally come into contact, as you have opportunity (1 Peter 3:15). Be real, not contrived. Be led of the Spirit. Only share what needs to be shared on a particular occasion. In other words, two words that fit the need of the situation are better than a sermon if the individual in question isn’t ready for it. We have to remember that Christ’s Church is a body of believers where one plants a seed, another waters; and even others may see the growth and harvest (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).
Lastly, keep in mind the hallowed words: “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.” This corresponds to what Christ taught:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Believers are both salt and light. Salt is something you taste and is a preservative, which shows that it’s figurative of the Word of God we share (John 6:63 & 6:68). Light, on the other hand, is something you see and corresponds to our actions & lifestyle — our example as “living epistles” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Jesus spends three verses talking about being light and only one verse about being salt. The point? Both are vital, no doubt, but living what you say is paramount for being a genuine witness.
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