We do not gravitate toward evangelism. When all is said and done, there is more said than done, concerning sharing our faith. A loud, “Amen,” will greet the pastor when he proclaims, “Jesus saves!” The congregation will nod, vigorously and affirmatively, when the preacher states, “Jesus is the only way to heaven!” Then, by the time we drive to the cafeteria for Sunday lunch, we are on to other things. During the week, the church may do a number of good ministries to the neglect of the one GREAT mission—to proclaim the Gospel. It is not that we do not intend to share our faith, but, you know the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and sadly, it is the road our neighbors are travelling to eternal torment, paved by our good intentions to someday witness to them! We will get around to it—but we don’t.
First, we delay because we think we need to learn more. I am all about learning how to be more effective, but you do not need to know much to get started. Think about the blind man that Jesus healed. The religious snots demanded he give a deep theological explanation of how this could be of God, since done on the Sabbath. They demanded answers and this was his, “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see,” (John 9:25b). Do you know that much? If God has saved you, then start there and tell somebody! Keep studying your Bible and developing your skills in apologetics, but do not wait until you are qualified for a PhD or ThD to do so!
Second, we delay because we think we are not spiritual enough. We want to reach a level of sanctification where we are so holy that none can challenge us. Truly, unless we are trying to live right, our message will lack credibility, but if you wait until you are perfect, you will not tell anyone the Gospel. Do not approach people with sanctimony, “I’m holy and you are filth!” We all stand condemned apart from Christ! The only difference between you as a saved person and one who is lost is JESUS! I am a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
Third, we delay because we want to spend time getting to know the person first. Building relationships is good and sharing the Gospel in that context is helpful. We often debate the methodology of evangelism. There are those who condemn what they call a confrontational or simplistic approach. I get it. My response to some who pose that is, “I like the way I do it better than the way you don’t do it!” When you awake at night and see the new neighbor’s house is on fire, you do not have time to take them a casserole, invite them to play golf, have a recreational time with their family—you urgently need to knock on their door and yell, “Wake up! Get out! Your house is on fire!” As awful as it would be for your neighbor to perish is those flames, it is nothing to compare to the eternal inferno of the Lake of Fire!
I am not saying this to make you feel guilty. Our churches must return to a conviction concerning the power of the Gospel, a refusal to be ashamed, and a passion for souls that gets us out of the pews, across the street, and around the world. For every pastor that reads this, call to mind Paul’s command, “do the work of an evangelist,” (2 Timothy 4:5).
Yours for the Gospel,
Dennis Thurman, AMS