Before I even begin to talk about Evangelism, I must admit that I could do better in this area. I am not speaking as one who is perfect in this area but as one who desires to understand God’s will for spreading the Gospel to all nations.
I typically share the Gospel from a stage of some sort. This reveals something in my heart that bothers me. Is preaching the Gospel a good thing? Absolutely. Does it always have to be on stage? No. As a matter of fact, I think people who share the Gospel to their co-workers and neighbors see more people come to faith than most preachers/teachers.
Having said that, there is a debate that I hear, usually between college students and twenty-somethings, that talks about the most effective way to share the Gospel. It comes down to the definition of evangelism. St. Francis of Assisi is famous for saying, “Evangelize, Evangelize, Evangelize and when necessary use words.” I understand what our buddy Francis is saying here considering the culture he was operating in. He was encouraging people to live a life that is in line with the Gospel. However, I think we have taken this a little too far. We have this idea that if we just live a good life with joy in the Lord then people are going to ask us why we are different. I have been a Christian for a while and I feel like I did a pretty decent job at living it out in high school. I wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I was an all around good kid. I can say this without hesitation… Never in my life has someone come to faith because of the way I behave.
Another illusion that we operate under is that evangelism is meeting people’s needs. Is “social justice” (to use a buzz word) necessary? Yes! Meeting the physical needs of others is a by product of evangelism. In 2 Timothy 4 Paul instructs Timothy to “Preach the Word.” In this context he tells young Timothy to do the work of the “evangelist” (or εὐαγγελιστής) which literally means “a proclaimer of the good news”
So in essence, what is the Gospel? It is unapologetically, fervently preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. To define it as living the Christian life for all to see or meeting the needs of others is to put the cart before the horse. Should we preach the Gospel without living the Christian life or meeting physical needs? No. However, we should always remember that to evangelize is to proclaim the Gospel and if you are not preaching the Gospel then you are not evangelizing.
I pray for us, your church. That we would fall
so in love with you that we would preach the
Gospel to all people. Make us aware of those
around us who need to hear of Your Son.
Give us the boldness that comes along with
being Your children. It is my hope that we
would walk in a manner worthy of our
calling and that we would meet the needs of
others. But I pray most of all we would
preach the Gospel. Help us love, work, and
teach well. In the name of Jesus Christ, the
one to whom we owe our very lives. Amen.