Reading Mark Dever’s The Gospel and Personal Evangelism drastically changed my conception of evangelism. Where I used to define evangelism as handing out tracts, preaching on the street, or otherwise impersonally sharing the faith, I came to see it in a more organic way. Now, I’d say that evangelism is easy.
Any relationship-building act that has sharing the gospel as its intent is evangelism, no strings attached.
A relationship-building act could be something as laid back as chatting with the checkout person the next time you’re at the store, or asking how your server’s night’s going when you eat out. The idea isn’t to be nosy; you’re just making small talk to find out a little bit about the other person’s life because you genuinely care. Over time, as you shop at the same store and visit the same restaurants, you’ll find that you actually know a thing or two about the people you come across.
But what does it mean for a relationship-building act to have the gospel as its intent? It means that in every instance where you’re finding out about another human being’s life, you’re making connections with your own life, your experience of Christ, and your knowledge of Scripture. Not everything that comes to mind should be spoken aloud, but we should seek to connect Christ to our daily interactions in this way.
What I think you’ll find is that as you talk with people from this mindset, you will intuitively make some connections that will be salient, interesting, and worth sharing. I’ve found that in this way I’m comfortable sharing my faith with someone, and it also feels comfortable for them.
You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about the Romans road or praying a prayer or anything like that. Such things may be helpful in a given conversation, but they may not. Our intention should be to share the good news of the gospel in a way that speaks to the person before us, not that forces them into some mold of evangelism that we’ve created. That said, if the Romans road fits, use it! And if the person wants to pray to receive Christ, by all means, take the time to pray with them (and then help them get plugged into a church)!
When I say there are no strings attached to evangelism, I mean that our burden isn’t to “get somebody saved” there on the spot. There is an urgency to the gospel message, and we should be clear about that. Ultimately, though, the timing is up to the individual and God; our responsibility is simply to share the gospel.
Evangelism is easy when we’re fueled by love for Christ, backed by an understanding of the gospel, energized by prayer, and motivated by a genuine love for others. It’s easy not in the sense that it’ll happen without any effort, but in the sense that doing this kind of evangelism feels natural, good, right, and, I think, invigorating.
Christ has sent us out to share his gospel, and he’s given us his Spirit as our strength where we are weak. I am certainly weak! But I don’t want to be selfish with the blessings I’ve received in Christ. Instead, let’s actively build relationships in our community with the intention of sharing the good news of repentance and grace.
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