St. Francis of Assisi is rumored to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” This is an oft cited comment to insist on living out our faith actively and only speaking rarely. The problem with this quote is that to fulfill our mission, we must speak.
The Greek word for gospel is euangelion, and it means “good news.” News is shared verbally.
Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching. One cannot teach without speaking.
The early church spread, not only by being a good deeds community, but by sharing the good news. What is this news? It is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is the gospel account that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
According to J. I. Packer in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, the gospel is made up of four specific truths.
- The gospel is a message about God and his holiness.
- The gospel is a message about man and his sinfulness.
- The gospel is a message about Jesus Christ.
- The gospel is a summons to repentance and faith.
Understood in this description is the reality that the gospel is a message. For the gospel to be shared, there are some things that must be said. God is holy and demands righteousness. Our problem is that we are sinners and cannot fulfill God’s standard of righteousness. God knew our dilemma and sent Jesus Chris to solve our sin problem. As the perfect Son of God who became our substitute on the cross, Jesus died for our sin and rose from the dead that we might have new life. This news invites a response. When we hear this news, we should repent (turn) from our sin and believe in Jesus alone as Savior and Lord.
The good news is something that we must share. In just the last couple of weeks, I’ve had multipole opportunities to share the gospel with unbelieving adults. Part of the reason for these opportunities has been keeping the gospel mission in the forefront of my mind.
Our mission at Wilkesboro Baptist is to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus. In order for us to fulfill this mission, we must share the good news about Jesus with others.
You may be wondering, “But what do I share? Where do I begin? But what if I’m rejected? I’m afraid of what might happen?”
Remember this. The temporary discomfort you and I might experience in public witness is minuscule when compared to the permanent suffering unbelievers will experience in eternal separation from God.Tweet
Here are some basic practices we can all engage in to be more evangelistic.
Obey the Lord. Being evangelistic is a command. Instead of thinking about sharing the good news based on how we feel (nervous, afraid, unsure), we need to base it on obedience. When we share the gospel, we are obeying Christ. It is a spiritual discipline and a matter of growth. By the way, success in sharing the good news is sharing the good news. When we obey by sharing the gospel, we are successful. The results are up to God.
Pray for people. If you are unsure where to begin in your journey of being evangelistic, then pray. Pray for wisdom, discernment, courage, and opportunities. But even more, pray for unbelievers. Here is a post from a couple years back that highlights how we can pray for those who are lost. I have an ongoing list of unbelievers that I pray for. And God is faithful to regularly give me opportunities to reach out to them and talk with them.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Our circumstances provide numerous opportunities for evangelistic witness. When we suffer and handle it with patience and grace (the context of 1 Peter 3:15), we open the door for people to question why we have hope. Friendships, interactions, and opportunities abound for evangelistic encounters. Walks through your neighborhood, the sport or dance events of your children and grandchildren, conversations with co-workers, eating out, and many, many more situations are potential opportunities for gospel conversations. Our problem is not lack of opportunity. Our problem is that we are too often distracted by other things to consider the opportunities in front of us. In Acts 8, Philip offers us an evangelistic example on which we can model our witnessing. You can read some observations about Philip’s example as a witness here.
Ask questions. How do we transition from opportunity to gospel conversation? We can transition from “Hello” and “How are you?” to the gospel by asking insightful questions. Here are some examples although there are countless options: “How are you doing during this past year? What things are you doing to stay at peace? What do you think about all the difficulties we’ve experienced? What do you think about Jesus? Do you attend a church? If so, has your church/faith been helpful for you in the past year?” Open ended questions are preferable. Questions that engage the mind and heart of others open the door to gospel conversations.
Share who you know. I could have written, “Share what you know.” Both are appropriate. But ultimately, we are sharing not just the facts of the gospel, but a person-Jesus Christ. What is it you must share? J. I. Packer’s outline above is a good starting place. But if you’re not sure how to explain those truths, then just share Jesus. Tell how Jesus forgave you and redeemed you. Share about the new life you have and the eternal life you anticipate. Sharing the gospel can be as simple as sharing the Jesus that you met when you became his follower.
If you’d like to go a little deeper, then follow the link to this podcast from my friend Dr. Craig Thompson. Craig regularly hosts the Ordinary Christian podcast where he addresses specific relatable issues within Christian life. In episode 42, Craig interviews Dr. Timothy Beougher, a professor and mentor of mine and Craig’s from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Beougher explains and relates personal evangelism for ordinary Christians. Craig’s podcast is helpful and relatable. Consider subscribing.