What Is Successful Evangelism?
What’s Common to Us
Maybe at one point in your life, you told the gospel to anyone who might listen, but you’ve felt that passion cool. Or maybe you’re eager to share the gospel with taxi drivers or other folks you’ll (in all likelihood) never see again, but not so eager when it comes to sharing the gospel with folks you see regularly.
Whatever it is, be reminded of the apostle Paul’s words: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). In other words, you’re not alone. What’s also common to Christians, however, is our commitment to evangelize the lost. By “evangelize,” I mean sharing the gospel with someone in hopes that they repent of their sins and believe in Christ for salvation. Every Christian should engage in evangelism. The Bible makes this point repeatedly:
- Matthew 28:18–20
- Mark 12:31
- Acts 1:8; 8:4; 11:19
- Matthew 28:18–20
- Mark 12:31
- Acts 1:8; 8:4; 11:19
In those passages, you’ll find examples and instruction to share the gospel. Just to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, here’s what I mean when I use that word gospel. The gospel is the message that God is holy and people are not, but Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised three days later for those who would turn from their sin and trust in him. In so doing, they receive the gift
of eternal life.
Are You a Discouraged Evangelist?
Perhaps you get awkward or silent when an opportunity to share the gospel emerges, or you feel like you don’t live a good enough life to tell people about a good God. Maybe you don’t want to lose a job or friendships. But following Christ means loving those who don’t follow Jesus, and that love includes sharing the gospel.
What are some reasons you may not be sharing the gospel? Do you expect the church staff to do it or perhaps just the extroverts in the church? Are you too busy with your plans to think about someone else’s eternal state? Are you a Christian in name but a Universalist in practice, acting as if God will simply save everyone in the end anyway? Are you ashamed of God’s justice and goodness in judging and condemning sinners? If any of these reasons describe you and your lack of evangelism, I’d like to gently say two things:
First—you need to repent.
Second—there’s hope for you.
What If I'm Discouraged in My Evangelism?
This short book for new Christians unpacks what the Bible says about evangelism, outlines what it looks like in the local church, and offers practical suggestions for making it a part of their daily Christian life. Part of the Church Questions series.
The good news for bad evangelists is that the same gospel we want to preach to others is the same gospel that gives us the power to obey Christ’s command to share the gospel with others.
Understanding Our Job in Evangelism
How do you define success in evangelism? What makes a “good” evangelist? Many Christians assume that good evangelists are those who regularly see conversions from their evangelistic efforts, while bad evangelists don’t see conversions. But according to Scripture, a bad evangelist is simply any Christian who doesn’t regularly share the gospel—no matter the results. Now when I say “regularly,” you may want to know how many people you should evangelize to be considered “regular.” But the Bible doesn’t give such a number and seeking one might reveal a wrong posture toward evangelism—treating it more like a chore to check off your spiritual to-do list than a privilege to enjoy.
Evangelism shouldn’t be something we merely have to do; it’s something we get to do. Evangelism may be our job, but it should primarily be our joy. Just consider: God has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). The King of kings has us as his messengers!
So instead of asking how many people you should evangelize each week, ask yourself: Could I be described as someone who faithfully shares the gospel out of love for God and my neighbor? We can be more or less faithful, but generally, how would you say you’re doing?
Discouraged evangelists should hope in God.
Rightly understanding our job in evangelism is crucial because we easily get discouraged in evangelism for the wrong reasons. Discouragement is one of Satan’s favorite arrows, and he loves to confuse and dishearten evangelists into silence. You may be sharing the gospel faithfully but have yet to see someone actually believe. That’s hard. But our job is to proclaim salvation not produce it. We’re called to deliver a message to people; God’s the one who delivers people from sin.
Imagine how odd it would be if a mailman was discouraged because he thought, Every time I deliver a letter and someone opens it, they don’t like what they read! It’s not the mailman’s job to make people like the mail but to deliver it. Likewise, it’s our job to deliver the gospel to people, and God’s job to cause them to believe the gospel. We share the faith, and God grants the faith. As Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65).
Too often, Christians are like discouraged mail carriers for the gospel. Is that you? If it is, let me encourage you to consider turning your attention from your evangelism to the character of God. Discouraged evangelists should hope in God.
This article is adapted from What If I’m Discouraged in My Evangelism? by Isaac Adams.
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