Thursday, May 03, 2012

Do You Have Unbiblical Thinking on Evangelism?

Here is an e-mail conversation I received from a pastor in North America who has bought into an unbiblical thinking regarding evangelism and the common believer.  

“Whether there is a gift of evangelism or not, some people just find it very difficult to get their friends across the line.  Where as others find it easy.  I for one find it very easy to share my faith and help people become Christians. I have led heaps of people to Christ.  My friends who are very passionate about reaching out to unchurched people find it much more difficult than I do. They really appreciate the fact that they can 'invest and invite'. They appreciate the opportunity of having someone who is better at communicating the gospel than they are. They see more evangelistic fruit by working as a team, bringing their friends to church, rather than just trying to share the gospel on their own.”  

This type of thinking continues to reinforce the bad evangelistic theology that is rampant in the church today.  It is sad and it is expanding and it needs to change.

It is no wonder the harvest seems poor.  It is in part due to the lack of seeds that are being sown because people believe evangelistic myths instead of Biblical truth.  Because the church is more about multiplying listeners than communicators, we are losing ground!  What the church needs today is a strong Biblical theology regarding evangelism.  These unbiblical teachings that gag us from sharing our faith must be debunked, destroyed and decommissioned from the pulpits, websites and teaching institutions around the world.  The truth must be told and we must be freed so ordinary people can give the Gospel of Jesus Christ away indiscriminately with power, precision, personality and passion.  It is time for the ordained to tell the truth to the ordinary about the authority and power that every believer is given by God from the moment his or her relationship with Jesus began.  Every believer is 100% successful, 100% of the time.

What are your thoughts or questions about what I've written today?


  1. We are all to do the work of an evangelist(2 tim 4:5)! Yes some are more gifted in that area but gifting is to equip the believers (Eph 4:12) not to do the work on their own or in place of. My personal gifting is planting seeds and watering believers but that does not excuse me from doing the work of an evangelist. I would love to reach the point where many people will cross the line of faith in my presence, but as long as I am doing what God has called and sometimes equipped me to do. I will leave the results in His capable hands.

    1. Good insights Daniel! What do you think the Paul meant when he told Timothy to "do the work of an Evangelist"? What does that look like? How does it apply to us today? I would encourage you to keep on sowing a bunch of seeds of truth and love in the lives of people around you and pretty soon, you'll have a garden!

  2. Anonymous2:30 PM

    I agree totally with your sentiment, but would offer a couple of differing thoughts. Yes, the church has failed miserably at equipping the saints for the work of ministry, especially evangelism, which has been conveniently redefined as inviting people to church instead of inviting people to give their lives to Jesus Christ. If this pastor is so successful, then he should be training Christians to share their faith effectively, thereby multiplying the number of ministers instead of seeking to draw all people to himself. But I must disagree with your distinction between the 'ordained' and the 'ordinary'. We who follow Jesus have ALL been ordained. We are set apart as priests. That is what sanctification is all about, which has already been accomplished (1Cor 6:11). Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who brings the power of God to the work we do when we allow Him to fill us and lead us. Yes, Ed, I see that you understand we all have the power available to us, but we must get the unscriptural idea out of our heads that we are ordinary and others are ordained. Christ commands all of us to make disciples (Mat 28:18-20). My other objection is that every believer is not successful 100% of the time. Those who do not share Jesus fail 100% of the time. We need to seek out those in the body who know how to share effectively and learn from them! Then, as we go out into the world: "Successful witnessing is taking the initiative to share Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to God."

  3. Dear Anonymous :-),
    Thanks for your comments and I fully agree with you. This is a short passage from a chapter of a book I'm writing and it is not a complete thought. I do fully, 100% agree with you that there is actually not distinction between the ordained and ordinary - in fact, we are all ordained as you have said...touche! I would also agree that never sharing is 100% failure. The larger context is that whenever we actually 'do' share, then, we are 100% successful, 100% of the time because success, as I define it is obedience to share the truth of Jesus. Thanks for your comments and the opportunity to clarify the fuller context of what I had written! Ed

  4. The crucial element here must be of obedience to our King. I really don't give two hoots about programs, methods employed by mega church pastors or little church pastors either.

    What does Jesus ask us to do? Love the Lord our God... and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Following on from that Jesus encourages us that if we love one another then the world would know we are his disciples. These are the steps of obedience.

    If we truly make Jesus our King, then we would naturally speak of our allegiance to our King as we interact with others. I really don't think forced "explanations of the gospel" do anyone any good at all. I would rather people who feel obligated to do so, just remain silent. It is far better if they speak from love than from a legalistic requirement to go out an evangelise.

    I usually find the whole church programming thing quite cringe worthy. I too am very guilty of having played such games, Lord forgive me. In the last couple years in my life since I made the decision to not invite people to church, I have found that I have more non-following friends than ever before in my life. I am convinced this has happened once I decided that I did not need to make them conform to anything. All I need to do is introduce people to Jesus, and to be genuinely living out my servant hood of the King myself.

    Once I decided to stop going to church it has been even easier to disciple people. I no longer fear the temptation to invite someone to church and get them rubber stamped or turned into some sort of church going clone.

    So much of the letter from that pastor makes me cringe at every second word, especially that he has led so many to Christ, it sounds a little like boasting to me. I really dislike his idea of "getting someone over the line" - a concept which is the opposite of discipleship and tends to make people only think of fire insurance instead of actually following their King in this lifetime as well as the next.

    Gosh, I hope I haven't gone too far here. Maybe I am a bit jaded by the whole system- it's probably my church detox speaking.

    1. I like your thinking Pasha!

  5. I've always appreciated your focus on any evangelism being a success. I cling to the promise in Scripture that the Holy Spirit will speak through me. I agree with the inconsistency cited above: One cannot be 100% successful and unbiblical in evangelism.

    Now, a question to consider for your book: How much of your definition of and exhortation for evangelism is driven by the Western value of individualism? Or, What role does community play in evangelism?