Evangelism Grows Out of the Church
Jesus told the disciples to follow him and he would make them fishers of men (Mark 1:17), and then he sent them out two by two to preach to people to repent, turn from their sinful ways, and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. When we follow Jesus, we become part of his disciples, his body—his church. And in that church we learn about the gospel so that we can live it and share it with others, letting them know the good news about God and his redemptive plan for all peoples.
As disciples, we are called to grow and multiply; the good news is given to us like the talents were given to those servants in Jesus’s parable (Matt. 25:14–30). Consider: Every time you hear the Word of God preached in your local church you are given a coin, a talent, which God calls you to multiply according to your ability. We are responsible and accountable to God for what he has given us.
Evangelism in the workplace is the outcome and extension of the preaching and ministry of the local church.
Evangelism in the workplace is the outcome and extension of the preaching and ministry of the local church. By God’s grace my experience has been that of being equipped in my church congregation for witness in various spheres of life outside of that congregation. This equipping happens through pastors and elders who regularly preach and teach God’s Word, and through lay men and women who teach and model that Word among the body of Christ in all kinds of ways. The gospel among believers is not something that happened to us long ago; it is the constant focus of God’s Word taught and the reason for our joy and hope: we believers are those whom God has redeemed and whom he empowers through the Spirit of the risen Christ in us.
God places us in particular professions and callings so as to be his witnesses, spread like salt and light in the world. We take in the Word of God regularly among God’s people, learning to understand and apply it in our Christian walk—and we carry that Word with us as we walk! We hear and trust the promise Jesus first gave to his disciples following his resurrection:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Evangelism: Being and Sharing Good News
Evangelism grows out of the regular patterns of our lives. As witnesses of Christ, we understand that evangelism in a working environment can happen because that is where we often spend at least eight to ten hours per day. We share life with the people around us during those hours—and they must see the gospel at work in our lives. We must be good news as we share the good news. The apostle Paul puts it this way, writing to the people in Thessalonica with whom he had shared the gospel:
We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thess. 2:7–8)
Paul is clear: we must communicate the gospel not only with words but also by showing love and care for others. Such a combination results in an open door to share more about our faith in Christ.
In my own workplace, I’ve learned the power of combining love and words. I work at a hospital in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, as a perfusionist in open-heart surgery. A perfusionist manages the heart-lung machine that takes over the function of the heart and lungs during open-heart surgery. Basically, the life of a patient is in my hands as the cardiac surgeon is operating. The anesthesiologist will switch off his ventilator when I start my machine.
When patients and their relatives come to a hospital for surgery they are anxious and worried about the outcome of the procedure. They give their lives into the hands of the surgical team and the post-operative intensive care department. As a Christian in this environment, how then should I work as an ambassador of Christ? As a perfusionist in this context, I am constantly reminded that I do not work for an earthly king but for King Jesus. Here are a few questions I regularly ask:
- Does my behavior reflect Christ in my integrity and in the care and quality of my work?
- How are my relationships with my manager, colleagues, and customers or patients?
- What is my reaction if and when I am misjudged or passed over for a promotion?
- Is my speech controlled, positive, kind, and truthful? And am I ready to speak of Christ?
In Colossians 3:17, 22–24, the apostle Paul addresses such matters, calling all believers to live and act as representatives of the Lord Jesus—and bondservants in particular to do their work not just to please people but ultimately to please our Lord Jesus:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him . . . Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
In so serving the Lord Christ, we reflect him to those around us, drawing others to him. We show his goodness often without words, by who we are and what we do. Those in the medical profession care for human beings who were created by God in his image. We show forth God’s image even as we care for his creation by caring for the bodies he made. And, of course, we show his goodness in the way we relate to everyone around us, especially in the words we speak.
This article is adapted from Joyfully Spreading the Word: Sharing the Good News of Jesus edited by Kathleen Nielson and Gloria Furman.
Here are five myths about evangelism that may lead us to neglect an important facet of the Christian life.
The gospel of Jesus Christ, by its very nature, refuses to be bottled up. It must be shared.
God is the one who does the work of saving people, not us.