(The following article was first published on May 19th, 2019, at the Cedar Park Church of Christ. RTS, age 13)
Evangelism is arguably the most important aspect in the life of a Christian. Evangelism, however, is not solely the responsibility of elders and preachers. A quick Google search gives the definition of evangelism as, “the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.” Evangelism should reach all, and all Christians should take part in the effort.
Scripture commands evangelism. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gives His last words to his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV)
God wants all people to be saved, and He is being patient with those who are still lost (2 Pet 3:9), but He won’t wait forever. If we are to reach the whole world, we must start with the people we know and those we encounter during our daily lives.
Evangelism works as a chain. One person teaches another person, and then the person who was taught can now bring the gospel to other people they know. Each time you or I are presented with an opportunity and do not take it, we are breaking the chain. How many others could have been saved down the line?
There are several useful strategies for evangelizing. Here are just a few of my thoughts:
Talk to people who are already religious. In Acts 17, Paul notices the religion of the Athenians and begins to preach the gospel to them. The “god” they did not know was “the God” of heaven, creation, and salvation.
Simply explain the plan of salvation to people. In Acts 8, Phillip teaches the Ethiopian eunuch what he did not understand about Jesus. Phillip then went on to explain what he needed to be saved. If the people who we are trying to teach do not know what to do, how can they be saved? We might not be as knowledgeable as Brother So-and-So, but if we have been saved, we can tell others what we did to become saved.
Use evidence from the Scriptures. Scripture must always be used within context, and it is important to know how a verse was used at the time it was written. Who was the author, and who was the audience? There once was a daily scripture calendar with a quote from the book of Matthew, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” It sounds inspiring, doesn’t it? However, the quote came from chapter 4, and it was a temptation spoken by Satan to Jesus. It doesn’t sound so inspiring anymore, does it? We must be careful when proving matters of salvation and authority.
Study the word yourself. The calendar illustration brings me to my next point. Study habits are an absolute must if we are trying to teach others. Timothy was instructed in 1 Tim. 2:15 to be diligent in his efforts to “rightly divide” the word of truth. Diligence implies an ongoing, concerted effort, not a one-time “open your Bible where it falls and read a few verses” type of study.
Keep on keeping on. In 1 Pet 3:13-17, Peter explains that we will be met with those who do not want to hear the truth, and that we must be prepared to answer those who question our faith. “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (ESV)
When religion comes up in casual conversation, seize the opportunity to teach. Often the best opportunities for evangelism come up at unexpected times. That is why we must be ready at all times! However, if we spring upon an opportunity like this, we may not recall everything we need to know. In that case, my personal suggestion is to arrange a time with that person to discuss whatever subject came up, and then do research on the topic before you meet again. That way, you’ll be ready the next time the opportunity comes up with another person. The more often we do this, the less often we’ll have to reschedule to have time to come up with the right words to say. The best time to teach someone is always “now.”
Learn from others’ experience. Is someone else already doing Bible studies with others? Ask if you can tag along. Watching how a brother or sister teaches others can help you develop your own knowledge base and strategy for teaching as well. “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Tim 4:2-4 ESV)
The greatest thing we can do in this life is bring a soul to Christ. No matter what personal suffering or even inconvenience it might cause, it will reap eternal benefits for you and for others.