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.