With this article stream, we have been looking at the 6 purposes of the church: Fellowship, Evangelism, Ministry, Worship, Discipleship, and Prayer. For the past couple of months we have focused on fellowship, we now turn our attention to evangelism. Specifically in this article, we are going to look at the what and the why of evangelism.
What is evangelism? Here are a few definitions that may be helpful to consider. The Anglican definition of evangelism is, “To evangelize is so to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their King.” Notice with me a few things in this definition. At its most basic to evangelize is to present, to share, to tell about Christ Jesus, further, this is not simply a man but the Christ. Second, we are to present Christ ‘in the power of the Holy Spirit’. We don’t present Christ in our power or wisdom, further, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and it is our job to present. Third, we are to evangelize so that people will place their faith in the Lord and Savior and serve and follow Him as their King.
Lewis Drummond, the venerable professor of evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, defines evangelism as, “A concerted effort in the power of the Holy Spirit to confront unbelievers with the truth about Jesus Christ and the claims of our Lord to lead unbelievers into repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and, thus, into the fellowship of His church so they may grow in the Spirit.” Notice with me a few things from Lewis Drummond’s definition. It is a concerted and intentional effort. Evangelism doesn’t happen by chance, there is intentionality that comes with it. If we as believers are not intentional in looking for opportunities to share our faith it will not happen. Further like the Anglican definition, there is an emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit and leading people to a growing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bill Bright the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru, defines evangelism as, “Presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” This definition is straightforward. Like the two previous definitions, there is an emphasis on presenting or sharing Jesus Christ, as well as presenting Jesus ‘in the power of the Holy Spirit’. It’s not solely on you as a believer, you have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Further, we are to ‘leave the results to God’. The prior definitions alluded to this fact but Bright plainly emphasizes this wonderful truth. As was mentioned above it is on us as believers to be faithful messengers of the wonderful, life-saving, and life-changing gospel; it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict.
Simply put evangelism is telling this lost, dying, and hurting world the good news of Jesus Christ through the dynamic indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, with the prayerful desire of bringing people to faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Notice the word ‘telling’. This is a vital word in the understanding of evangelism. We are to share Jesus as Lord and Savior in words. Telling about the wondrous glory of Jesus through our words is important, even imperative.
Why are we to tell about Jesus? Jesus tells us in the first part of Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (ESV).” My friends, we are to tell others about Jesus because we have this Great Commission to make disciples.
If this is the why, one must ask the question, “Are you a believer, making disciples?” “Are you church, making disciples?” Let’s put some numbers to it. According to a Lifeway Research study in 2016, “Only 3 in 10 unchurched Americans (29%) say a Christian has ever shared with them one-on-one how a person becomes a Christian.” Further, according to the submitted data for the Annual Church Profile (ACP) for the NBA churches in 2001, it took 13.9 church attendees to baptize just one person. In 2021 it took 24.7 church attendees to baptize just one person. So you know I’m using the number of people you have reported that are sitting in the pews on a Sunday morning, not the resident membership that is oftentimes significantly higher than the average attendance.
These numbers are revealing and tell a story. One story it tells us is that the world around us is moving further and further away from Christ. In so many ways the world around us I become more and more like the world of the early church. Here is a wonderful truth because we are witnesses to history, the church as they shared the Good News of Jesus exploded and spread like wildfire. Though the world around us is drifting it doesn’t mean that we are to give up on sharing about Jesus Christ.
These numbers also reveal the church is becoming less and less essential in the lives of those that live in our communities. There are several reasons for this that we will get into in a later article, but for now, let’s be reminded that it isn’t the world’s responsibility to come to the church, it is the church’s responsibility to go to the world. Remember “(You) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (ESV).” Jesus is speaking to the first followers as He is about to ascend into heaven.
Third, these numbers reveal a sharp decline in the intentionality of believers to share their faith. My friends very rarely does something great happen without intentionality. We must be intentional about looking for opportunities to share Jesus with our FRAN’s: Friends, Relatives, Associates, and Neighbors. Our FRAN’s are open to having conversations about faith as they wonder why you don’t share something you say is important.
My friends, we have this wonderful purpose of the church: evangelism. I want to encourage us to tell people about the wonderful, life-saving, and life-changing gospel. It is vitally important.
I wonder, what would it look like if we take this challenge and reverse the trends. What would happen if by 2025 we went from the 2021 numbers of 24.8 people seeing one baptism to 20 people seeing one baptism? What about in 2030 we continued to see this trend to be 10 people to see one baptism. We can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
How can I help?
In the next article, we are going to look at the how of evangelism.