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Evangelism has fallen into disfavor

Somehow evangelism has gotten a bad rap. I hear statements like, “We can’t go door-to-door; we don’t have the gift of evangelism.”   What gift of evangelism? Actually, that’s not even in the Bible. Eph. 4 talks about the role of evangelist, but not a gift. We’re all evangelists in the sens…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Somehow evangelism has gotten a bad rap. I hear statements like, “We can’t go door-to-door; we don’t have the gift of evangelism.”
What gift of evangelism? Actually, that’s not even in the Bible. Eph. 4 talks about the role of evangelist, but not a gift. We’re all evangelists in the sense that people tend to share good news. If Jesus has made the big difference he promises to make, it’s like a super Groupon deal – his word-of-mouth is great. You don’t need a gift of evangelism to tell your friend about the Groupon you bought. You’re doing them a favor, telling them about something that will help them.
Somehow that’s not the case with the gospel amongst many young people. They’ll do good works, but they’re not too sure that Jesus will be good news to their friends who only know his name when they’re mad and are swearing.
I get it – I’ve been there. My mom used to hand out tracts to strangers when I was a kid and I’d walk on the opposite side of the street in embarrassment. I was happy to engage in projects to help their poor – the social gospel – but talking about Jesus was awkward. I wanted to be authentic and I just wasn’t very sure of the difference he’d made in my life.
You can’t browbeat people into evangelizing, though that’s exactly what many of the more legalistic churches in America do. People need to experience God’s exquisitely personal and tender love or they need to experience his awesome power for the gospel to really become good news.
When God told me he loved me in 1991, suddenly I had the “gift” of evangelism. Jesus was not just a Bible verse, he was a person who had answers to problems. He became not just good news, but fantastic news.

Comments (7)

  • I love this so much. One of my biggest passions to to get people excited about evangelism. And thank you for saying it’s not a gift that you if you don’t have, well then you don’t share the gospel.

    Once you know how great He is, you have to tell people!

  • I have struggled with this for a while. I definitely get that we are all called to bring good news. My problem revolves around “good news” being limited to telling unbelievers about Jesus.

    The first time we see evangelism used as a word in the New Testament is the angels and the shepherds telling of the coming Christ. We need to recover from the gospel focusing on hell.

    I want to evangelize the church in America!

  • I have done the whole door knocking, street preaching, street drama, praying for people on the streets thing. It can work but it can also be a bit shallow and not especially fruitful.

    I was interested in this devotional I got from the South African Andrew Roebert today at Alive To God:

    Verse: Proverbs 3:27

    Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.

    – Each of us can do something for someone else.
    – Each of us can withhold good or give.
    – If you have the power to do good, then do it!
    – God remembers what we have done for others.

    PRAYER: Lord, help me to be a source of blessing to others today. Show me where I can make a difference and give me the boldness to do it! Amen.

    There is something about chasing the one sheep when the 99 are okay – I can’t resist it personally. There is something about having a heart to do people good that shows them Jesus in a way just words or handing out tracts may not always. Evangelism has many forms. Most important part is to be the person you are and let the Jesus in you show. He’s the One who is irresistible and His is the love they perceive when you give it so often. Your words then follow when they want to know why you are bothering to persist and be so kind and you tell them it’s because Jesus does it for you. Everyone’s different in how they express it but that one works for me.

  • I agree, Seth. Genuine encounters with Love can transform the heart in unexplainable ways…

  • Operation Mobilization has been doing street evangelism for over 52 years. You would be AMAZED at the stories we now hear of the fruit that resulted years after teams handed out literature and went door-to-door. Unfortunately, the current generation doesn’t seem to be interested in this activity. It is one of many effective methods to sow seeds that are then watered often years later. People need to hear or read the Good News. Simply loving them is not enough. If we don’t work with the Holy Spirit and confront people with the fact that they are sinners destined for hell and in need of a Savior, then we won’t see the Great Commission being fulfilled any time soon. Let’s train and send out evangelists/witnesses just as Jesus did!

  • I am currently reading a book “When Helping Hurts.” The author points out the disconnect that many churches have between evangelizing through preaching and the demonstration of the Gospel through meeting the needs of the poor. We need to start seeing how the Gospel is interwoven into every aspect of our lives- how Jesus cares not just about our souls, but our physical bodies as well. Our ministry to the poor is just as much a part of the gospel as door to door evangelism. This is what I see Seth saying here.

    We see so much focus on “saving souls preaching”, especially in short-term missions, but not a whole lot going on in ministering to the person’s physical situation. We descend in a whirlwind, on some unsuspecting 3rd world country and promise the abundant life if “you just follow Jesus” and it is convincing, because it “appears to have worked for the rich Americans.” Then just as fast, we are gone and the people are standing there scratching there heads thinking, “what the heck just happened?” It is difficult on short-term missions because this kind of ministry requires a greater commitment than a few weeks.

    So my question is… How can we implement more of a balance between the preaching and the serving aspects of the Gospel- specifically, on short-term trips?

  • Good question and good point here, Matt. We need relationship for the good news that we have to share to find a listening ear. And relationship is often built through expressing love – often by meeting felt needs.

    Hit-and-run evangelism with no expression of love behind it is pretty worthless in my book.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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