Evangelism’s not my “thing.”
“Did you know you are an evangelist?” If you are like most people, you would say, “I’m definitely not. I’m not Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonnke. I could never do that.” But Jesus says you can. Maybe not like them but you can have a significant part in helping people find Jesus. At least that’s what Jesus’ words indicate when he called his followers, “Follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) The Great Commission assumes the same thing as well, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19) How can you make followers of Jesus if they never take the first step?
We have a problem.
If we stick with the status quo response that “evangelism is not my thing,” we have lots of problems.
90% of the workforce is not working. Only about 10% of Christ followers who have the “gift” of evangelism are doing front door work. So according to Jesus, 90% of the potential workforce isn’t working. If 90% of the workforce at your job decided not to work, would that be a problem?
Billions of people will spend eternity in hell. As I am writing this, there are just over 7 billion people in the world. And that number is growing by the second. And people are dying as well, many of them, without Jesus. If God exists and if Jesus is the Son of God who came to take away the sin of the world, and if heaven and hell are real then many of them are going to spend eternity separated from God because we are believing the lie that, “Evangelism is not my thing.”
We will meet Jesus one day… face-to-face…in all of His glory. And he is going to ask us what we did with the one command he gave us in the Great Commission, “Make disciples.” That would not be a good time to realize you have lived your life based on the lie that “evangelism is not your thing.”
So what’s the answer?
1. Change the way you think. When Jesus said, “…And I will make you fishers of men,” fishing was a team sport and not a solo activity. He was basically saying, “If you follow me, we are going to work to bring people to God. You have an important part to play. Just grab the stinking net and pull.” So evangelism is not just helping someone “pray the prayer.” There could be many steps and many people involved in bringing someone to Christ. Evangelism is your thing! Stop saying it’s not.
2. Discover your style. God made us all different. It shouldn’t surprise us that evangelism isn’t “one-size-fits-all.” Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg have a great book that summarizes the six styles of sharing Christ found in the New Testament. (HTML for Becoming…”) They have developed a short assessment to help you discover your style in their participant’s manual. You can also find it in the resource section of my book Learning to Follow Jesus. Perhaps you can discover your style by looking at the six styles below.
- Confrontational Style – Acts 2:12-41 – Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost and told people about Jesus and three thousand people started following Jesus.
- Intellectual Style – Acts 17 – The Apostle Paul presented Jesus to a group of intellectuals in a logical and persuasive way on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, the ancient equivalent of a top university. As a result a few intellectuals followed Jesus, Dionysius and Damaris to name a few.
- Testimonial Style – John 9:25 – A blind man was healed by Jesus. When he was confronted by religious leaders he said, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.”
- Interpersonal Style – Luke 5:29 – Matthew invited all his friends to a dinner party with Jesus. Jesus was criticized by religious people for this kind of thing. One of the meanest things they could say about Jesus was that he was a “friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Matt. 11:19)
- Invitational Style – John 1:42, 46 – Andrew is most famous for inviting his over-the-top, loud-mouthed, brother, Peter, to meet Jesus. None of us knows what will happen when our friends and family meet Jesus.
- Serving Style – John 13:35 – Jesus had just washed disciple’s feet when he said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” People ought to be so attracted by how we care for one another that they want to follow Jesus. There are so many ways you can do this. Dorcas did this by “always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:46) and by sewing clothing (Acts 9:49).
3. Develop your style. Learn from others like you. I have found the following books to a starting place for developing each of the six styles.
Hybels, Bill. Becoming a Contagious Christian.
Little, Paul. How to Give Away Your Faith.
Strobel, Lee. A Case for Faith, A Case for Christ. And others.
Zacharias, Ravi. Who Made God? (and other books)
McDowell, Josh. More than a Carpenter.
Warren, Rick. God’s Answers to Life’s Difficult Questions.
Gumbel, Nicky. The Alpha Course.
McNaughton, Daniel and Bryan Koch. Learning to Follow Jesus, pp. 113-116.
Aldrich, Joe. Lifestyle Evangelism.
Pippert, Rebecca. Out of the Salt Shaker.
Hybels, Bill. Just Walk Across the Room.
Searcy, Nelson. Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church.
Sjogren, Steve. Conspiracy of Kindness.