Evangelism. Just hearing the word can send shivers down our spines. It’s a scary word for most people. It’s a word that can cause us to immediately come up with a thousand excuses about why we aren’t ready to actually do it or why right now isn’t the best time to drop the gospel on someone.
Others talk about evangelism a lot. We have a plethora of training and books available on how to do evangelism. We might even strike up spiritual conversations every so often with a random person at the coffee shop every few weeks. But are you living a lifestyle of evangelism? Are those you are discipling consistently sharing the gospel?
I’ll be the first to tell you that I fall far short of where I desire to be in the area of sharing the gospel! But as we seek to make disciples, my fear is that evangelism becomes something that we do once every few months in order to check the “I shared Jesus with someone” box in our spiritual lives. Or that we would attend an evangelism training course once a year, share the gospel with a stranger or two, and then “call it good” for the year.
Evangelism must become part of the entire discipleship process. Until it does, it will inevitably be a neglected practice that only gets done when we feel like doing it, which typically isn’t all that often!
I desperately want to see more lost people reached through the local church. This is how families, college campuses, workplaces, high schools, cities, and entire countries are reached with the gospel.
So how do we persist in evangelism and teach those we disciple to do to the same? Here are a few thoughts on how to embed evangelism into the DNA of your discipleship and create an evangelistic culture:
1. Pray for lost people and more laborers!
Evangelism begins with prayer. How often do we forget to pray for the lost and for more laborers to be raised up in our discipleship appointments? When Jesus saw crowds of “harassed and helpless” lost people, he said that the solution for the vast harvest was more laborers for the harvest field (Matthew 9:36-38). BUT, he told his disciples that because the need is so great, they should start by praying and asking the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. Where else should we start instead of praying and seeking the Lord to raise up disciple-makers to reach the lost people all over the world? As we pray for God to raise up laborers, he deepens our compassion for the lost and fuels our hearts with a desire to be a part of his work.
Sit down with those you are discipling and make a list of 5 friends each who do not know Christ, then pray for each of them by name. You’ll be amazed at how praying for these lost people will fuel our desire to bring the gospel to them.
2. Teach Christians to be Faithful AND Fruitful
In Israel today, the Sea of Galilee is located about 60 miles north of the Dead Sea, with the Jordan river connecting them. Water from the hills around the lake flows into the Sea of Galilee and then head south down the Jordan river and into the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is full of fish and is a source of life for the community. However, the Dead Sea (like the name tells you) has nothing living in it because of the high salt content. It’s over 8 times saltier than the ocean! The difference between the two bodies of water? The Dead Sea only has water flowing into it, while the Sea of Galilee has water flowing IN and OUT.
In our discipleship, we can’t let people settle for just taking in information and focusing on their own growth. We must teach people that the purpose of learning and growing is always so they can invest it into others. The teaching must be going in and out. Disciples grow MORE when they stop thinking about how to grow themselves and start thinking about how to reach non-believers around them. Help them think evangelistically.
3. Go share the gospel
It will never be easy or convenient, and you will never feel fully prepared. But just go do it! I think the most crucial thing you can do in your discipleship is to have a consistent practice of sharing the gospel. You’ll not only hopefully be seeing people accept Christ that you’re now able to disciple, but those you’re discipling will see your example and imitate it. Seek to share the gospel while you’re together with those you disciple, tell them stories about sharing the gospel with others, ask them who they can share with, etc. Make it a normal part of your conversations together.
4. Talk about the vision of spiritual multiplication often with those you disciple
I’m convinced that one of the reasons we don’t see more multiplication happening is that we’re not talking about it enough! We must learn to constantly come back to the vision of multiplication to refresh ourselves and those we disciple of what we’re trying to accomplish and to have a clear plan for how to get there. Ask those you disciple to share the vision of multiplication with you to see how well they know it. Talk about reaching the 4th generation with them and ask them how it’s going. Ask what obstacles are they facing in making disciples? Help them get a “4th Generation” mentality. This is not a “one and done” conversation, it’s a vision that takes years to press itself down into the very core of who we are.
Practical steps to do this:
- Pray for lost friends together.
- Talk about who you’re sharing the gospel with.
- Memorize scripture on evangelism together.
- Make multiplication the goal of your discipleship groups.
Persevere in your efforts to live a lifestyle of evangelism. I desperately hope that you’ll persevere through the tough times when it seems like the gospel is falling on deaf ears, that you’re overwhelmed with life and feel too busy to set aside time for evangelism, when you’ve been rejected by those whom you have shared the gospel with, etc. Remember, Jesus is faithful and will be with you always, to the very end of the age!
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you! Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)