“Conquering evangelism” is not something most of us would feel comfortable saying for numerous theological and practical reasons. Practically speaking, if trusting God, and being fervent in prayer for the salvation of non-believers is difficult for the average Christian, evangelism seems impossible! That is why so many Christians have turned over the responsibility of evangelism solely to their local church. Now, it is not a bad thing for the local church to be engaged in evangelism in different ways. In fact, it is quite necessary. But when the local church becomes our excuse to disengage the countless people that God has placed us in personal relationships with, who do not know Jesus and will not come to a local church, then we have a problem.
Yes it feels easier to just bring our non-believing co-workers, friends, and family to a church service, expose them to great music, and a good speaker, and then hope for the best. But I wonder if that is really the most full picture of biblical evangelism and discipleship? When we look primarily to church services, programs, and pastors to do our evangelism we have to ask ourselves the question of why?
As we do things like this, we should be asking the heart penetrating questions of what aspect of the gospel are we failing to believe when we shrink back in the fear of personal evangelism? Because ultimately, a lack of belief comes out in a lack of obedience. Just follow the trail of bread crumbs of partial or complete disobedience, and you will find your way back to the house of partial or complete unbelief.
Thankfully for us, evangelism does indeed begin with God, and prayer. It begins with God’s sovereignty and us praying like the father of the boy with the unclean spirit, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Then we remind ourselves that Jesus is the founder and perfecter of faith (Heb. 12:2), that the Son of Man seeks and saves the lost (Lk. 19:10), and that no matter when, where, who, or how, only the Lord opens hearts for salvation (Acts 16:14-15)! These are truths about conversion that are bound up with the heart of the gospel and its benefits. If you remove truths like these, then you undercut your confidence in the success of the Great Commission, but because Jesus has all authority (Matt. 28:18-20), you can have rock solid confidence every time you share the gospel!
Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Cayman Islands, wrote in his book What is a Healthy Church Member?, “The encouraging news is that when we have a good grasp of conversion, we realize that evangelism does not depend on eloquence, using the correct mood lighting, emotionally sappy stories and songs, or high-pressure sales pitches” (58). He goes on to say that, “biblical evangelism requires of us one thing primarily: that we be faithful to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people God places in contact with us” (59).
So as we seek to be faithful witnesses, and faithful disciple-makers, then lets strive to believe the truths of what the gospel is, and what it secures. Namely that God not only made the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, but he himself distributes the gift of salvation through our God-reliant proclamation! And in the process of evangelism and disciple-making, he sanctifies us in our struggles with our unbelief, and saves the lost in their unbelief. As David Platt often says, “It’s like he’s got this whole thing rigged!”