The growth of the Lord’s church, both in the universal sense and in the local sense, is something that ought to be of utmost concern to all Christians. “How does the church ‘grow’?” is a question of fundamental and ultimately eternal importance.
Simply stated, growth is accomplished through the instrumentality of God’s drawing power the Gospel (Jn. 6:44, 45; 12:31; Rom. 1:16), which is the seed to be sown into the hearts of all men (Lk. 8:11). Evangelism is the heart and lifeblood of the work of the church. Without evangelism, the church will not grow because the seed will have not been sown. Only when the seed is sown can it produce fruit (Lk. 8:15). Without evangelism, all who are accountable unto God by way of knowing right from wrong, will remain in and die in a lost condition having never obeyed the gospel of Christ (2 Thess. 1:7-9).
Because of the importance of the subject at hand, the question that might be considered is this: “Who is to evangelize?” It is often argued that it is solely the job of the preacher since Paul told Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). Yes, preachers of the gospel are evangelists and must do their part in evangelizing, but they cannot do it alone. The answer is found in Christ’s words within Mark’s account of the ‘great commission’: “Go YE (emphasis mine—RA) into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 KJV).
In considering these words, it is understood that Christ was speaking to the twelve at the time. However, this command is one of a permanent nature. Never is there a moment from that time on that the people of God are not to be going and teaching. Understanding the basic nature of this command is, by way of implication, deducing that this command applies to you and me as Christians. I recognize that just as my name is implied in such passages as John 3:16 and Matthew 11:28, it is also implied in this particular passage of Scripture as well. When Christ said “Go ye,” He says “Go me (Robert Alexander).” The command of Mark 16:15 applies to ALL Christians. ALL have the responsibility to do their parts in evangelism.
Unfortunately, many are the Christians who do little to nothing in regards to personal evangelism. Excuses abound as to why so many Christians do not engage in personal evangelism:
- They do not have a zeal for it (and in reality, the lack of zeal manifests a lack of interest in lost souls.)
- They have “no time” for it.
- They do not know what to say (i.e., ignorance of the Word.)
- They are simply “afraid” (of being rejected, of forgetting what to say, etc.)
However, all these excuses can be nullified, and all Christians can be encouraged by the fact that personal evangelism can be accomplished by all. There are many effective methods by which one may engage in the work of evangelism which ought to encourage every Christian and thus instill a sense of zeal for this important work, which does not take that much time, easing the ‘dread’ or ‘fear’ one may have in regards to doing personal work. The goal of this article is to encourage every member to develop the mindset that “I can do my part in evangelism” by setting forth five effective methods that every member can or may choose to use to help spread the gospel.
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc). As with anything else, social media can be abused. However, if used properly it can be a great tool for teaching others. From personal experience as a preacher, it has thrilled me to see members of the congregation I labor with use Facebook to set forth the gospel. It also thrills me to see members of the congregation use Facebook as an opportunity to invite others to visit with us. Is this evangelism? YES! If you have a fear of talking one on one with a person, then this method is for you. Can you set forth the plan of salvation? If so, post it to a social media site so that those who are your friends but who may not be Christians will read what they must do to be saved. Social media can be used for good discussions of God’s word or to answer questions others may have in a less pressure filled setting. Social media is a great tool that if used properly, can spread the truth of God’s word far and wide simply from one’s computer.
Good Bible Material (Tracts, publications such as Carolina Messenger, etc). The passing out of good biblical material written by faithful brethren in Christ is another effective way of spreading the gospel. Not only can you pass these out, but you can also leave such material in hospital and doctor’s office waiting rooms. When I preached in Cleveland, Alabama, we had a dear sister there who always took a handful of tracts or House to House/Heart to Heart publications with her whenever she went to the doctor or to a hospital. Her method was to leave a bunch on tables there for others to take and read. Was this effective? Yes, because due to her zeal and efforts she came to be known as the “tract lady” whenever she would show up at a hospital.
Separate and apart from the aforementioned suggestion, you might consider when paying bills to place a small tract in the envelope along with your method of payment. Will the tract be read? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the point is by sending it you are doing your part in taking the gospel into “all the world.”
Personal Conversation. Christ is the perfect example of using personal conversation to deal with spiritual matters (please read and study John 4 and His conversation with the Samaritan woman). Christ started out by talking about something both were interested in (physical water) which ultimately led to a discussion of the spiritual. You can engage in personal conversation wherever you are (grocery store, work, gas station, etc). Just strike up a conversation and you never know where it might lead. Remember, in evangelism, you do not have to come right out immediately talking about the Bible. Start out on common ground, listen to the interests of others by showing interest in them and allow the conversation to go from there. It is the personalization that makes the method of simple, personal conversation effective.
A Simple Invitation to Services. Have you ever considered that just taking the time to invite someone to visit the congregation in which you are identified with as a form of personal evangelism? Inviting someone is a form of personal evangelism because of your desire to have the prospect visit and hear God’s word proclaimed from the standpoint of hearing the word of God proclaimed publically. I know several individuals who came to obey the gospel as a direct result of just simply being invited to services. Inviting others may not sound like much to some, but as has been pointed out it is a powerful method of personal evangelism.
Spending Time with Those who are Lost. We all have friends, family and neighbors who have never obeyed the gospel (or who are in need of restoration). We need to spend time with them, and demonstrate before them a Christ like disposition of concern and compassion for their souls, for in so doing they will be influenced by our behavior to either obey the gospel or be restored back to their first love (cf. 1 Pet. 3:1 ESV). I have been told by some dear brothers and sisters in Christ that they were converted to Christ simply by the interest shown them by other Christians through their living of the gospel of Christ before them (cf. Phil. 1:27; Matt. 5:13-16). A kind word, a kind deed or just simply your presence can go a long way in influencing others to come to or return to Christ.
Personal evangelism is not just limited to preachers, it is imperative that every Christian be active in some way, shape or form. And ALL can do so, it just comes down to possessing the “I can!” mindset (cf. Phil. 4:13).
As a Christian, let me encourage you to not be intimidated by personal evangelism. There are many methods by which you can communicate the good news of salvation to others in simple and easy ways that are not intimidating. This article has considered five effective methods every Christian can use in personal evangelism. Perhaps one of these will work or is working for you or perhaps you can think of something else which may work better, that is up to you. May God bless you as you seek to do your part in carrying out the work of evangelism.