And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
Evangelism is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, with the hope that the Holy Spirit will compel our audience to repent and trust in him. Our evangelistic work is made credible by a holy life (when we are salt) or discredited when we are no different than those who pursue the shiny things of the world. To execute effective evangelism is not difficult since God carries the load, but man can complicate the effort with unwise philosophies, techniques, or programs. The instinct of some is to confront the lost and hit them over the head with a heavy bible while telling them that failure to repent means an eternity in the fire of hell. The gospel of Jesus delivered with condescending; pious judgment seldom yields the desired result.
What follows are the elements that produce effective evangelism. These concepts are from scripture, experience, and from the excellent example of bold and effective evangelism in my brother-in-law, Jim. A towering Christian, he has done great good for the kingdom of God and is a man to imitate.
The Power for Salvation is in the Word of God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:16-17
To those with a hard heart, wise in the world but dead to the spirit, the word of God is nonsense. Read I Corinthians 1:18 But to those who are drawn, receptive and contrite, the word holds the divine power to do what man cannot do for himself. That is to be accredited with righteousness in the eyes of God and be saved from his condemnation and wrath, by trust and faith in his son Jesus Christ. Therefore, use the word when proclaiming the gospel of Christ, because in the scriptures lives the power of God.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
To do this, obviously, you should know what is in the bible. Yet another reason, perhaps the best reason, to live in the word. Godly character joined with a command of the scriptures will produce an effective and formidable evangelist. How blessed is he who gives God an awesome resource to reach the lost!
The message is simple and elusively profound. I love the “Romans Road to Salvation” from Paul’s masterpiece of the Christian faith to present the salient points of the gospel:
- For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23. Not even one person on earth is righteous, we all need a savior.
- For the wages of sin is death; – Romans 6:23. We are all headed to judgment, condemnation, and an eternity in the agony of hell.
- But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 6:23. Christ paid the price for our sin on the cross and those who believe and trust in him will be saved from the condemnation and wrath to come. The sacrifice of his son for those who are naturally his adversaries testifies to God’s great love for us. But know that to “believe and trust” requires repentance (a change of direction) from the sin of your current life and complete devotion to Christ as Lord for the rest of your time here on earth.
- That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. – Romans 10:9-10. To “believe in thine heart” is the key. If so, then pray to God in confession, give your life to Christ and your sins will be forgiven and you will be declared righteous in his eyes (this is justification).
The message is that simple. The truth of the gospel is further distilled to its essence in the best know verse in the bible:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
I think it is important that John 3:16 also be understood in the context of the last verse of the chapter. You should know that the choices you make have consequences.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36
Use scripture to convey the message. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings salvation, so make the case and then leave it to God. The instinct to apply pressure is not beneficial and most often drives people away. My feeling is that scriptures applied in the brotherly love of relationship is most effective but pray for opportunity and follow the prodding of the Holy Spirit.
Deliver the Message of Salvation like a Christian.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15
Be alert and ready to take advantage of the opportunity to tell people the good news of Jesus Christ. When the door is opened (and pray that it is), give that message holding tight to the elements of Christian character. This verse in Peter is in response to those who persecute. To answer “the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” is to answer with gentleness and respect. If we are to engage those who are hostile with kindness, we should then certainly do the same for those with whom we are at peace. When presenting the message, strive to embody and present the fruit of the spirit! Read Galatians 5:22 Avoid the attitudes that repel – judgment, condescension, threat, pious superiority, disingenuous, flippant, etc. Know that if you offend them, you will lose them. Read I Corinthians 9:19-23 Do not strive to demonstrate your zeal for the faith, do nothing to serve a religious ego. Your objective is to say, “come and see”, not “stay away!” So, deliver the message in sincere love and hope, and let God do with it what he will.