A healthy church with a culture of evangelism is the key to great evangelism. Jesus did not forget the gospel when he built his church; in fact, a healthy church is meant to display the gospel. Think of the ways that the gathered church displays the gospel: we sing the gospel, we see the gospel in the sacraments, and we hear the gospel when we preach and pray. A healthy culture of evangelism does not aim at remaking the church for the sake of evangelism.
- Our evangelistic efforts must stem from a biblical understanding of evangelism.
There are so many ways to go wrong in evangelism—impulses of fear on the one side, vain ambition on the other—that if we do not nail down a truly biblical understanding, we will quickly veer off course. So we start by understanding that biblical evangelism isteaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.
- Evangelism is often the label given to things that are notevangelism.
Is sharing your testimony evangelism? Is defending the Christian faith evangelism? How about doing good deeds for the oppressed? Certainly those are good things that serve and support evangelism. But they are not evangelism itself. We must not confuse the gospel with the fruit of the gospel.
- Evangelism entails teaching the gospel first and foremost.
God teaches us the gospel through his Word; we can’t just “figure it out” on our own. So it stands to reason that we must speak and teach the gospel to others: the truth about who God is, why we’re in the mess we’re in, what Jesus came to do, and how we are to respond to him. It’s no wonder that Paul often described his evangelistic ministry as ateaching ministry.
- Evangelism aims to persuade.
We want to see people move from darkness to light. Having that aim helps us know what things to talk about and what things to lay aside. Evangelism isn’t just data transfer; we must listen to people, hear their objections, and model gentleness because we know that souls are at stake. And we know what it means to truly convert: a true Christian has put his complete faith and trust in Jesus, so much so that he has repented of a lifestyle of unbelief and sin. Understanding this guards us from false conversions, which are the assisted suicide of the church.
- Evangelism flourishes in a culture of evangelism.
- Evangelistic programs will kill evangelism.
- Evangelism is designed for the church and the church is designed for evangelism.
- Evangelism is undergirded by love and unity.
- A culture of evangelism is strengthened by right practices and right attitudes.
- Evangelism must be modeled.