This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach.
Three Reasons We Don’t Do Evangelism
Are you in the regular habit of sharing your faith with nonbelievers? When is the last time that you told someone the good news about Jesus Christ? All the most recent surveys indicate that most Christians engage in little or no evangelism. Why is this? It is certainly possible that fear of persecution, or pure cowardice, play a role. But I believe that there are three main reasons why most Christians do not share the life-changing message of the gospel:
First, there is the intense pressure from our society that tells us to keep quiet about our faith. We are increasingly told either that matters of faith are private, not appropriate for public dissemination, or worse, that the Christian message is outdated and closed-minded. It is against the inclusive and permissive spirit of our age. In other words, either Christians should change their view to conform to our society or have the decency to keep their old-fashioned views to themselves. It is helpful to remember that the early Christians faced an even more hostile culture which threatened them with intense persecution or even death for sharing their faith. Yet, this did not stop them from turning the world upside down with the message of the gospel. Their attitude was this: Given what Christ has done for us, how can we remain silent when so many people have not heard the good news?
Secondly, many Christians mistakenly regard evangelism primarily as a gift and not as a command. The Bible does affirm that some people have a gift of evangelism, and we may expect such individuals to be given more opportunities to share their faith. But evangelism is not the sole provenance of those who possess a special gift—it is a command for all believers. We are not called to leave evangelism to the “professionals.” The kingdom was never meant to grow on the strength of a few charismatic preachers converting millions. The discipleship approach modeled by Christ is the making of disciples who make disciples, one person making a few disciples who then multiply—the leaven in the dough.
Then there is the third and most pervasive reason: the belief that people are drawn to the gospel through the good deeds of the believer, rendering preaching of the word unnecessary. Many people quote the famous line from St. Francis: “preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.” The fallacy of this statement lies not in the conviction that Christians should live exemplary and noteworthy lives of piety and kindness, but in the idea that such well-lived lives alone bring people to Christ. People do not come to Christ simply by experiencing the kindness of Christians. Words are always necessary. Jesus could well have allowed his miracles and healings to speak for themselves. But he did not. They were always accompanied by calls to repentance and faith. So while our lives should be characterized by joy and grace such as the world cannot offer and rarely witnesses, people will not intuitively know to what these qualities are attributable. The gospel is so contrary to our natural religious instincts that it is not understood, much less received, through some kind of spiritual osmosis. If people are going to hear the gospel and be transformed by it, God has ordained, in nearly all cases, that they will hear the message from the lips of a believer.
If you are not in the habit of regularly sharing your faith, may I ask, what is holding you back?