What is evangelism supposed to look like?

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Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
So far I've tried several different methods of evangelism in college. I've done open-air preaching, gone up to random people and asked whether I could talk about Jesus with them, passed out tracts, helped campus ministries setup "programs" and other kinds of "event-style evangelism," have talked to friends on an individual basis, etc. Sometimes I felt guilty that I wasn't doing enough. Now I don't even know what I'm supposed to do. Once I became Reformed my understanding of both faith and practice changed drastically. I would not do many of the things I used to approve of in worship; I no longer will accept many things I used to believe. There are passages of scripture which seem to promote a more aggressive style of evangelism and there are others which seem to promote the exact opposite. All in all, there seems to me to be very little said in the epistles about sharing our faith. And most of what is said, both in the epistles and some of what is said in the gospels, seems to be more passive, or "reactionary" than aggressive. I understand that the Great Commission has to influence the way these passages are interpreted but I was wondering whether I could get some help making sense of that (the Great Commission) and other passages.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 said:
...that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

Matthew 5:14-16 said:
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 said:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Colossians 4:6 said:
Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

1 Peter 3:15 said:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.


So how does this fit in with the Great Commission? Am I justified in not feeling guilty for not going door-to-door or passing out tracts, preaching open-air, etc?
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
So how does this fit in with the Great Commission? Am I justified in not feeling guilty for not going door-to-door or passing out tracts, preaching open-air, etc?

The great commission is intricately tied to authority to baptise and teach. Biblical evangelism is the "official proclamation of the gospel" by those ordained to the work. I think what you are driving at is the concept of sharing your beliefs with others because of your duty to love your fellow man. So far as "calling" is concerned each one should provide things honest in the sight of men and be diligent in their work. As personal relationship provides opportunity to share one's beliefs with others this should be done to the glory of God. But it is only those who have been "charged" with the preaching of the Word who are required to make it their life's work or "calling," and who will answer for it on the day of judgment.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
The great commission is intricately tied to authority to baptise and teach. Biblical evangelism is the "official proclamation of the gospel" by those ordained to the work. I think what you are driving at is the concept of sharing your beliefs with others because of your duty to love your fellow man. So far as "calling" is concerned each one should provide things honest in the sight of men and be diligent in their work. As personal relationship provides opportunity to share one's beliefs with others this should be done to the glory of God. But it is only those who have been "charged" with the preaching of the Word who are required to make it their life's work or "calling," and who will answer for it on the day of judgment.

:amen:

Brian Schwertley has written a good article on this subject which is available here.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I will not engage in a tit-for-tat, but I will say that the gospel is not limited to the confines of a church building by an ordained minister. Nor is it a contrived guilt-trip put on believers to go door-to-door or in open air evangelism. As God gives opportunity we need to take advantage of it. Perhaps that opportunity is as simple as inviting the person to church so that they may sit under the teaching of the word. But we may find ourselves in a divine appointment where we are able to share law and gospel and present it plainly. I am not willing to cede over the ability to articulate the gospel to only ordained ministers.
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks, Rev. Winzer and Mr. Myers! Anyone else?

I will not engage in a tit-for-tat, but I will say that the gospel is not limited to the confines of a church building by an ordained minister. Nor is it a contrived guilt-trip put on believers to go door-to-door or in open air evangelism. As God gives opportunity we need to take advantage of it. Perhaps that opportunity is as simple as inviting the person to church so that they may sit under the teaching of the word. But we may find ourselves in a divine appointment where we are able to share law and gospel and present it plainly. I am not willing to cede over the ability to articulate the gospel to only ordained ministers.

From the verses and the responses so far it seems like the lay-person would have more of a passive role, that is, living a godly life and pursuing their secular calling with greatness and "being ready to answer." The ordained minister, on the other hand, goes out and plants churches and is more aggressive in "going out."

Does that sound off?
 

JJF

Puritan Board Freshman
The great commission is intricately tied to authority to baptise and teach. Biblical evangelism is the "official proclamation of the gospel" by those ordained to the work. I think what you are driving at is the concept of sharing your beliefs with others because of your duty to love your fellow man. So far as "calling" is concerned each one should provide things honest in the sight of men and be diligent in their work. As personal relationship provides opportunity to share one's beliefs with others this should be done to the glory of God. But it is only those who have been "charged" with the preaching of the Word who are required to make it their life's work or "calling," and who will answer for it on the day of judgment.

Yes!!!
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks, Rev. Winzer and Mr. Myers! Anyone else?



From the verses and the responses so far it seems like the lay-person would have more of a passive role, that is, living a godly life and pursuing their secular calling with greatness and "being ready to answer." The ordained minister, on the other hand, goes out and plants churches and is more aggressive in "going out."

Does that sound off?

David - I confess that God is sovereign in salvation. He calls and He passes over. But if the convesation lends itself to my being able to share law and gospel with a person, I will take advantage of it. I have seen the power of changed lives in those who have had the gospel preached to them on the streets in the New York metro area. [Note: I know this because there was follow up within my own church and I saw the growth and obedience to Christ.]

If you are convinced to take a more passive role in evangelism, that is your prerogative. I don't believe individuals should be shamed into sharing their faith, but to preclude them from doing so is unwarranted.
 

JJF

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, Rev. Winzer and Mr. Myers! Anyone else?



From the verses and the responses so far it seems like the lay-person would have more of a passive role, that is, living a godly life and pursuing their secular calling with greatness and "being ready to answer." The ordained minister, on the other hand, goes out and plants churches and is more aggressive in "going out."

Yes!
 

Gryphonette

Moderator
Schwertley made a statement he didn't support, though: "Christ’s command to disciple whole nations (which is a comprehensive task that aims at developing a worldwide Christian civilization and culture)..."

Not that I've got anything against Christian civilization and culture, mind, but I'm having a hard time finding that to be Christ's objective when He instructed, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you..."

Did He command the apostles regarding Christian civilization and culture? And it seems to me he slightly changed Christ's words; "make disciples of all the nations" isn't the same as "disciple whole nations", is it? I'd understood He meant the gospel is not to be restricted to the Jews, but is to be taken to all the people groups.

This is rather a bunny trail, I daresay, but that bit did catch my attention.
 

S. Spence

Puritan Board Freshman
This is something I've often thought about. Being a teacher I often wonder what is the best way to bring the gospel to the kids.

I found this quote on monergism the other day and it has given me much to think about:

The Gospel

Should we say, "perhaps you should try Jesus as you savior" ...almost with a consumer market oriented mentality"?. "There are lots of religious options and if you try this particular religious option you might like it." ... No... rather, Jesus is Lord and he will soon be invading with His armies. He is offering pardon in advance of His invasion and should you receive the pardon and ally yourself with Him now before He invades, when he comes you will be considered His ally and He will raise you to Kingship. The alternative is to be under the wrath of the king. It is not some kind of religious option. It an announcement that a new king is on the throne and he'll be invading. The gospel is not an invitation to an array of a buffet style choices, it is a command. Will you heed the command? Jesus is Lord, repent and believe.
-William Wilder
 

Rev. Todd Ruddell

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks, Rev. Winzer and Mr. Myers! Anyone else?



From the verses and the responses so far it seems like the lay-person would have more of a passive role, that is, living a godly life and pursuing their secular calling with greatness and "being ready to answer." The ordained minister, on the other hand, goes out and plants churches and is more aggressive in "going out."

Does that sound off?

The only objection I would have with the above is that, as long as it's lawful, there is no such thing as a "secular" calling. Paul tells us that we serve the Lord Christ *in* our callings. I also believe this idea drives much of lay-evangelism's desire in our modern church culture because we have forgotten the concept of "calling" Biblically restored to the Church during the Reformation, and desire to "do something lasting for Jesus".

To sum up then, we work in our callings, acknowledge God in *all* our ways, have a ready answer for those who ask, (and our other-worldly lifestyle will generate those questions) and we answer with meekness and fear as the Lord gives opportunity. The minister has a greater responsibility--His calling *is* to preach, to proclaim the Gospel.

So then, dear brother, live Godly in this present world, work in your calling to the glory of God, be expert in it, acknowledge God in all your ways, invite your friends, co-workers, and fellow students to Church that they might hear the Gospel preached in its full-orbed context, and be ready with an answer!
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
I once heard a reformed evangelist define evangelism as "One beggar, telling another beggar, where to find bread that satisfies". I like his definition.

I understand that the Great Commission has to influence the way these passages are interpreted but I was wondering whether I could get some help making sense of that (the Great Commission) and other passages.
<snip>
So how does this fit in with the Great Commission? Am I justified in not feeling guilty for not going door-to-door or passing out tracts, preaching open-air, etc?

I may be wrong, but I don't think our efforts to evangelize are limited to an either/or type thing, where we're either going door-to-door or we're just sitting back waiting for someone to notice something different about us and ask. I think it should be both (while taking into account the different roles of the layman vs the ordained clergy).

I've done different types of evangelism in the past, some that you've mentioned. I haven't in a few years, but like you have just tried to come to grips with what God expects of me, as taught in the Bible (as opposed to what men expect of me, if you know what I mean).

This is just an observation, but at times the 'passive method' of evangelism seems to be more powerful and far-reaching than the other 'methods' I've tried. At the workplace, working hard and speaking when the opportunity arises seems to get noticed by more people than if I were to go from cubicle to cubicle passing out tracts.

At work, there have been opportunities to speak and share scripture that have been unavoidable (at least I didn't have the self-control to remain quiet). For example, a coworker who shares my cubicle area with me retired a week or so ago. We got to shooting the breeze his last day and we got to talking about Mitt Romney. I told him about a funny news clip I saw where Mitt was out campaigning and he met up with an older fellow who wanted nothing to do with him. He told Mitt he didn't want any Mormons to be president. Mitt said, "Well, can I at least shake your hand", to which the man answered in the negative. Mitt then kind of walked away and sought out others who'd be more appropriate for the news clip. With my warped sense of humor, I thought that was hilarious.

So, we got to talking about Mitt and the mormon religion and my coworker made the statement that America may not be ready for a mormon president, but that the mormon religion was just another Christian religion.

Well, I couldn't let that one go, so I told him why I didn't think the mormon religion was Christian, by saying Christianity says this about Jesus, and the mormon church says something completely different. (Jesus and Lucifer originally being brothers, etc)

The conversation continued and he eventually fell back on, who's to say? Afterall, the Bible is just a bunch of words written by man, who's to say one is to be believed over the other. Again, I couldn't let that one go, so I told him what the Bible claims about itself, and quoted the verse about all scripture being inspired by God...

I wasn't out trying to evangelize or anything, it just came naturally. Sometimes I think its these types of times, where you just speak your piece (then shut up), that its best to just sit back and see what God does. Our cubicle area is part of a pretty open area, so when you speak, people can hear for quite a distance. Hopefully, others heard me speak the scriptures and hopefully God will use those scriptures in somebody's life. In some ways I think it may take more faith to refrain from speaking once you've said your piece, while waiting for God to work in hearts.

Should I feel guilty about not evangelizing the way others do? I think maybe yes, and maybe no. If my reason for feeling guilty is because I'm not doing a certain method, and I'm not convinced its supported by scripture, then no.

Rom 1:16 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.

On the other hand, if my reason for not evangelizing is because I'm ashamed of the gospel, that's a different story. Perhaps feeling guilty isn't the right way to react, but introspective reflection I think would certainly be in order.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
These are great posts! This thread should be made into a book.

I agree with those who point out the the Great Commission was given to the church. And Paul teaches that each of us is a different part of that body, each with a different function, gifting, calling etc. But Paul teaches that the HS does not leave it up to us to 'find' our place in that body, nor 'make' a place in that body. Paul teaches that God sets us in that body. You, Mr. Pell shall be set where the HS wants you whether you like it or not. (most times it seems to be 'not') I would encourage you, as a young and obviously zealous man, to let the HS bring your function to you. I have found that the frustration or confusion that you are experiencing is often due to trying to hard. Sometimes I fall into the trap of trying to lead the HS, instead of letting the HS lead me. Maybe the HS just wants you to concentrate on that beautiful young lady in your avatar right now! :D
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
These are great posts! This thread should be made into a book.

I agree with those who point out the the Great Commission was given to the church. And Paul teaches that each of us is a different part of that body, each with a different function, gifting, calling etc. But Paul teaches that the HS does not leave it up to us to 'find' our place in that body, nor 'make' a place in that body. Paul teaches that God sets us in that body. You, Mr. Pell shall be set where the HS wants you whether you like it or not. (most times it seems to be 'not') I would encourage you, as a young and obviously zealous man, to let the HS bring your function to you. I have found that the frustration or confusion that you are experiencing is often due to trying to hard. Sometimes I fall into the trap of trying to lead the HS, instead of letting the HS lead me. Maybe the HS just wants you to concentrate on that beautiful young lady in your avatar right now! :D

Hey Ken!

I agree; this thread has been very helpful and I'm very thankful for the time that everyone (including you, of course) has taken to respond so thoughtfully and thoroughly.

What you said sounds right on. As a Charismatic I was always searching for God's secret will, looking for a "word," a sign, something that could tell me what to do. Since that time it's been difficult for me to just go with "what seems good to me." But I think I'm making progress. I've been going through a book by Richard Steele called "The Religious Tradesman" with one of the men in my congregation and that has been very helpful in seeing the validity of being a lay-person (before I always thought I had to be a pastor or a missionary to do something worthwhile) and the importance of "calling."

By the way, thanks for the encouragement about concnetrating on Emily. :D I'll PM you with some details!
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
What you said sounds right on. As a Charismatic I was always searching for God's secret will, looking for a "word," a sign, something that could tell me what to do. Since that time it's been difficult for me to just go with "what seems good to me." But I think I'm making progress.

I have heard this before from others on PB. It would be interesting to hear the testimonies of Reformed Charismatics if anyone ever wanted to start that thread. :)
 

eternallifeinchrist

Puritan Board Freshman
If you go with what seems best to you...Isn't the heart deceitful above all things? Mine is... Isn't it better to pray and ask God's wisdom about a situation and search the Scriptures? Is that when one decides 'what seems best for you?'
I have heard this before from others on PB. It would be interesting to hear the testimonies of Reformed Charismatics if anyone ever wanted to start that thread. :)
 

Davidius

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Amanda,

Sometimes I say things without completely qualifying them. I didn't mean that I am beginning to make decisions without asking God to guide them by wisdom while keeping myself grounded in the scriptures; I meant that I now realize that God isn't going to speak to me audibly or, for that matter, through a "still small voice." Since choices which aren't directly "moral" (school, spouse, job, etc) aren't directly laid out in scripture, we pray for wisdom, use whatever regulations God may have provided in the bible, and then go with "what seems right." Sorry if there was any confusion.

If you go with what seems best to you...Isn't the heart deceitful above all things? Mine is... Isn't it better to pray and ask God's wisdom about a situation and search the Scriptures? Is that when one decides 'what seems best for you?'
 

reformedman

Puritan Board Freshman
My opinion on the subject is as some have said above.

  • The major form of evangelism has to do with The great commission which was principally to the spiritual leaders. Too many hands in the cookie jar is not a good thing. If I want to go to a little town in Ireland to evangelize, I will not go eventhough I may think I have a great potential there.
    I will first go to my pastor and get approval, thinking and acting on my own is arrogance.
    A man that walks alone will surely fall. The council of many is purely wisdom.
    Next my pastor will either confess to me my lack of ability or dangers that I am not aware of. He will council me on counting the costs considering finances and family and such things.
    Then, my pastor may know some things about the area or about the people or especially about some contacts or some other evangelistic outreaches already established there. He will point me where I need to go or make the appropriate connections.
    Finally, after the church is agreed, and sends me there with conditions and aims and preparations, I need to report all things to my church and pastor because they are essentially the ones that have sent me and I am representing them.
  • The minor form of evangelism has to do with everyday life at home.
    The workplace or school, and family and friend interations on a daily level. Every open door.
    By this I don't mean creating a bible study group every Thursday night, something as big as a 10-15 man group becomes a bit of a congregation and could be divisively leading congregants away from the church and steering them in different behaviours or teachings that the pastor has already laid out. This type of thing usually causes divisions in the church. Big things like this should be directed and advised by the pastor giving approval.
 

reformedman

Puritan Board Freshman
And I agree, but the directive was principally to the leaders, which were apostles or in our modern case, the pastor. These are to spend the time discipling and baptizing and developing a relationship of regular attendance for the end result of discipling that person to maturity in salvation.

The layman on the other hand is to continue learning and being discipled, imagine if a new convert had a desire to go to pakistan, that's all well and good, and a great desire, but he must consider the cost, he should (my in my opinion) seek his pastor's advice and approval, he should (in my opinion) be sent by his church.

I'd like to express the following opinion, I hope I don't insult anyone.
The reason for all the little groups of wierd denominations like Mormonism and JW's and such, is because a recent convert or rebellious convert (respectively), were motivated to go out on their own and be led by what they believed was their mandate to go evangelize the world. If they had continued being discipled or humbled themselves to good teachers (respectively), they would have found that they weren't ready.

I hear you brother, I agree that we are all to evangelize, but the OP seemed to indicate a desire to go further than the workplace or the neighborhood street corner. The OP seemed to refer more to extending to the outer reaches. Forgive me if I was mistaken. :handshake:
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
trevorjohnson;

Evangelism is not neccessarily BECOMING a pastor or evangelist - it is the simple practice of telling your own web of personal contacts about Jesus. Every Christian can and should do THAT.

I think this is a misconception of MANY Christians, they don't think as laymen, sharing the Gospel is their responsibility...Christ called US individually, to share the Gospel...the Bible is written to ALL Christians...it applies to each one of us, not just a select few.

I know many so called Christians who think that ONLY pastors and teachers can TEACH the Bible, so they don't NEED to read God's word themselves...they don't think knowing what it says applies to them...it's the pastors JOB to know what the bible says...thats what they get paid for--to know what it says..so therefore because *I* 'don't get a pay check each week for KNOWING God's word...so therefore *I* don't need to study it, or know it, or read it outside of Church on Sunday."

Is that really what Christianity is about?? Isn't that what Rome did? Only the Priests were the ones who were to know and study God's word, and the rest relied only on what THEY were told?? Isn't that what the Reformation was about at least in part??? Destroying the belief that ONLY the priests should read and know and teach the scriptures? How dare we, who know what the Scriptures say, go back to such a belief system...

it is the responsibility of every believer to KNOW and share and witness to what Christ has done in their life...be in the world
at their work place, or in the world in their neighborhoods...that is what Christianity is about...sharing the good news of what Christ has done for each and every one of us.
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
How important is it for Christians to get to know the people who they share the gospel with in their natural contexts? I was just curious because I have known Christians who keep their distance from people after they share the gospel with them once or twice.
 

eternallifeinchrist

Puritan Board Freshman
REading this today it seemed smart-alecky (spelling?). But I really meant it as a sincere question. I have wondered about this, I think, since we were in Peru on a mission's trip... Thanks for replying with a real answer.
Amanda,

Sometimes I say things without completely qualifying them. I didn't mean that I am beginning to make decisions without asking God to guide them by wisdom while keeping myself grounded in the scriptures; I meant that I now realize that God isn't going to speak to me audibly or, for that matter, through a "still small voice." Since choices which aren't directly "moral" (school, spouse, job, etc) aren't directly laid out in scripture, we pray for wisdom, use whatever regulations God may have provided in the bible, and then go with "what seems right." Sorry if there was any confusion.
 
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