The church is a body in which evangelism is one of the many gifts. Whether we see the "gifts" as something that takes place as a one-time power-shot from Heaven, or as something that is resident in a born-again believer, we are acknowledging God's ability to use us to affect another.
Too often, we try to make the mandate of the Great Commission; (Mark 16:15) "He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.", one that is personal, and not corporate.
Paul later said (Eph 4:11) that the gift or role of Evangelist, was only 20% of the purpose of the church leadership.
There are many methods of evangelism, I am working on a book entitled "Evangelism for Folks Without the Gift." It includes ways to bring Heaven to the lost. I have been made to feel guilty about the numbers of folks that are on my "saved" list. I have a friend that dwarfed my lifetime total in one day - he's an evangelist!
I believe that "salvation" is a door on a life-long journey, not a goal. As Christians, by using our gifts to love others, our job is to help them take the next step or two on that journey. We may be a plower, a planter, a waterer, a harvester or a gatherer.
Here is a preview of my thoughts.
-1 Live the Gospel: Although we should be ready to preach the Gospel at all times, not every one is an evangelist. We are part of a body; hopefully where we use our gifts to love others - and not just at church! We do not know who is watching us. It has taken years sometimes, but folks eventually notice I don't say off-color things. They see me show up for work, work hard, turn things in on time, and take responsibility for my own errors. Co-workers have seen me handle the death of a parent, and cancer scare with peace. These are gifts that Jesus has given me. I am not perfect by any stretch, that is not the point.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
-2 Be A Friend: Many folks are caught in the rat-race, I know, I can be that way too. We have tried to keep up with friends online, using the phone, scheduling a regular breakfast of dinner time. It's tough work.
I try to schedule times to connect with specific friends. The drive home is the best phone time I have, and I pretty much use it all. I try to figure out what my friends love languages are, and do it. I am not the best friend in the world, but I put effort into it. Recently I have met a few guys that are seriously ill. I try to make daily contact with them via text messages or Facebook, and call when I can. I know if I was sick, I would appreciate the contacts.
The best test of true friendship is when someone moves. :)
-3 Spirit Led Encounters: Scatter-Shot Evangelism is tough because it may reach folks that have no interest in Jesus. I prefer for who the Lord want's to touch. I would rather find the "one," than talk to 25 folks that might be offended because it is not their time. (Yes, I know the Gospel can be offensive to some, but rarely to one God has prepared for the encounter.)
I have done this sort of thing in the US, Norway and in Brazil. What is success? Finding the one that Jesus wants to save, and presenting a simple Gospel backed by power. Here are a few of my personal experiences. Brazil, My Dad, A Chance Encounter and One More.
-4 Servant Evangelism: One of the most powerful tools that Vineyard Churches used to engage folks in their communities, was serving them. Small groups of folks, trained to pray for salvation (5-Part Prayer Model), healing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness would go out an try to meet a need in the community. From cleaning toilets at local filling stations to raking leaves and clearing snow, they prayed and engaged others. It was simply a way of showing their neighbors that they cared about them - the love of Jesus in a practical way.
In recent years, I've seen folks giving away water at a parade, chocolates at Easter with the intention of inviting folks to church. I think it is great. I also see it as sort of a marketing plan... but I know if it is God, he'll use it.
One of the most successful ministries of this type was door to door food give-aways. A group of folks would go into the local projects and give away bread and gift cards for the local supermarket. Many in need came to Christ.
-5 Church Invitations: It certainly, in our culture, is easier to invite someone to church than to try and "clinch the deal" at the water-cooler, or in line at Walmart. At the "building" there is more time, and it is easy to put an emphasis on the Gospel.
Many converts fall away; especially if they are young. The body of Christ also has to pastor, mentor, and disciple folks. Conversions are tough when we don't have a way to disciple. That happened to me in 1978. I got God, but I didn't have a Bible, no church, no Christian friends. It took for more years for someone to take the time to start the process of discipling me.
So, the church, as long as we are presenting Jesus, is a great place to pop the question - but not the only one.
- 5 1/2 Ask God for Souls...
How about you, how do you spread the Gospel? What are your experiences with bringing another to Christ?