3 Rhythms for growing in personal evangelism
tony thomas | SEPTEMBER 17, 2019 | 4 MIN READ
“Why don’t Christians tell more people?”
In college, I was a fairly young believer, but God was placing on my heart a passion for the lost. One of the ways I sought to witness was by doing an investigative Bible study with one of my friends. After a few weeks of studying the Gospels I took time to share the clear message of the Gospel using a bridge diagram.
Mind you, I was extremely nervous. This was a good friend and this was my first time being this bold and explicit. But, in a mixture of fear and faith, I shared the reality of God, our sin, how we deserve God’s wrath and hell, yet how Jesus came to take our sin and provide forgiveness and eternal life if we’d trust in Him. My friend was not ready to receive Christ, but this is how the dialogue went at the end:
Friend: “Do you really believe this? You believe I’d go to hell if I don’t believe in Jesus?”
Me (timidly and fearfully): “Yes, I do. And that’s why I’m sharing this with you -- because I want you to know Jesus and go to heaven.”
What do you think he said next? “You bigot! I hate you and hate Christians. How dare you say that!” But no, this is what he said next which I remember to this day:
Friend: “Then, why don’t Christians tell more people?”
I was shocked by his response. I didn’t have a good answer for him other than saying that I think it’s because we are afraid. And for him that was inconceivable. And what convicts me is how my friend, who never grew up in a Christian home, came to the conclusion that sadly many of us as Christians fail to come to even though we grew up in Christian homes and attend church maybe even multiple times a week. Which is that, if we say we believe the Gospel and all its implications, how can we possibly not be sharing this Gospel to as many people as we can?
How do we change?
I realize and confess that years after this, I find myself living in this duplicitous sin of saying I love the Gospel yet not sharing it as actively as I should. And if I can add, as an Asian American Christian, I believe we ought to corporately repent of this sin as I think, generally speaking, we have not been as obedient to this call of personal evangelism as what I have seen and been challenged by from many of our Caucasian brothers and sisters.
In addition, as an Asian American, I am prone to use guilt as a motivator. And yet we all know that guilt is a terrible motivator, especially for evangelism. The greatest motivation is the Gospel itself. Hungry beggars that have found and tasted bread naturally want to tell other beggars where to find this bread that is so abundant and free.
But that being said, we know that Christian sanctification works in a constant dynamic interplay of the heart’s desire and practical commitments. Evangelism works in a similar way. I believe that while what we mainly need is heart’s inflamed with love for Christ because of the Gospel, I believe we also are helped by practical commitments to help make evangelism a part of our everyday life. And so I want to help us think about how to do that both within the life of the church and individuals through these three ways:
Everyone loves one
Everyone invites one
Every week, once a week
Evangelistic Rhythm #1: “Everyone loves one”
A commitment to be a consistent witness to at least one lost person
Most churches have small groups that are aimed at growing and nurturing believers through practicing the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer, sharing encouragement in fighting sin, and praying for one another’s hardships. This is great and vital. Yet, true discipleship and Christlikeness must also include the development of our evangelistic witness as Christians. So, we ought to think about how we are holding one another accountable regularly to how we are doing in sharing our faith.
Practically, we ought to ask each believer to come to each meeting and share about the progress of their active witness towards an unbeliever. That one person should not be a family member or a friend from their past who does not live near them now. That type of evangelism should be a given for everyone. But we want to encourage people to be engaged in active witness where they currently live, work, and play.
Imagine a church of 100. That means there would be 100 precious souls of unbelievers being actively pursued, loved, prayed for by many people. And Lord willing, they are souls who will be added into Christ and His Church very soon!
Evangelistic Rhythm #2: “Everyone invites one”
A commitment to always invite at least one lost person to a meeting where they can come closer to Christ
Your church might have evangelistic outreaches like picnics and sports fellowships. But the important thing is not the event itself but having lost people be present! How sad it is when an evangelistic outreach is mostly full of Christians entertaining one another.
One practical step is for a small group member to create a group message where every member replies with the name of the person they plan to invite. The idea ought to be - “Hey bro(ther), don’t try coming without inviting and bringing someone!”
Of course, we ought not to close the door on anyone or have a culture of shaming, but we must cultivate a culture of invitation. Also, it’s a wonderful way for people to know a bit about the friend or co-worker you are inviting beforehand and be filled with love and prayer as the entire Body ministers to the lost present at this gathering.
Evangelistic Rhythm #3: “Every week, once a week”
A commitment to spend time with a lost person or a group of people at least once a week and every week
As a pastor, I know I can easily go a week (or more) without having any very meaningful interactions with an unbeliever. So, I want to fight against that by being intentional about scheduling time to be with lost people.
Others of us might be in workplaces or schools where we are constantly around unbelievers, and that’s awesome. But then the challenge is: Are there any steps of intentionality in those places? Do you seek to have a personal meal or coffee with not just your Christian friends, but also with lost people?
As the Church, we talk a lot about having daily quiet times, coming to Sunday worship, and attending small group. But can we — who are so well-fed with the nourishing, life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ — spare an hour or two at least once a week to spend with a person who is lost and dying and headed for eternal damnation apart from Christ? You and I might be the only church they’ll attend, the only Bible they’ll read, and the only Jesus they’ll meet.
Would you commit with me? I know I want to and I need to once again.
Tony Thomas is participating in a 1-year internship program for church planting at Perimeter Church in Atlanta. He was previously an associate pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church (CFC) near the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated with a Bachelors of Chemical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and worked in industry for about five years as he completed his Master of Divinity from Columbia International University (CIU). He is a big fan of Chicago sports, but especially the Bulls, and also loves playing basketball whenever he can. Tony is married to Marilyn and they are proud parents of three children - Joy, John, and Joshua.