Timothy K. Jones once said, “Sometimes telling a story has as much effect on the teller as it does the listeners. Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, recalls: ‘My grandfather was lame. Once they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. My grandfather rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how the master had done. From that our he was cured of his lameness.’ When we tell the story of our Master, we too experience His power.”  When proclaiming the good news (the gospel) to others the believer experience God’s power working within him giving him joy and fulfillment.

The New Testament uses two words to describe evangelism. The first word is euangelizo which means “to bring a message, announce good news.” Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 3:6 “But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love,…” In Acts 5:40-42 after the apostles were put in prison they were beaten and then released. They rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for the sake of Christ’s name. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching (lit. Evangelize) Jesus as the Christ.”

The second word describes the person who evangelize “evangelist (euangelistes)” it occur three times in the New Testament. Even though Philip was originally chosen in the early church to minister to widows (Acts 6), he eventually becomes an “evangelist” (Acts 21:8). In 8:4-25, he evangelizes Samaria after the persecution on the church in Jerusalem. And in 8:26-40, he leads the Ethiopian eunuch to salvation in Christ and baptizes him. Paul commissions Timothy with doing “the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5). In Paul’s listing of the various ministry gifts in the church, one of them is the gift of “evangelist” (Eph 4:11). While all believers are called upon to share their faith and in that sense “evangelize,” there is a gift of special empowerment whereby God blesses their evangelistic work with the fruit of conversions.

Thus evangelism is the proclamation of the message of the gospel about the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus repentance and believing in the message of the gospel will grant us forgiveness of sin and thus receiving eternal life.

This essay will be covering five ways in developing an action plan to become a more evangelistic church. First, evangelism involves developing the burden for the lost in the heart of the believers. Second, it involves proclaiming the good news. Third, it involves a clear presentation of the gospel. Fourth, it involves a response to the proclamation of the gospel. Fifth, it involves a delight in seeing people come to Christ.

Compassion for the Lost

Evangelism involves developing a burden in the believer’s hearts for the lost people. The congregation must have a great desire to see people saved; compassion for the lost in this world.

There are many thought patterns can destroy the congregation hunger for evangelism. One is isolation from unbelievers. Believers tend to separate themselves from unbelievers. Believers can’t find an unbeliever for the same reason a criminal can’t find a police officer, because they are not looking for one. A second pattern is insulation; believers also tend to be in a contact with other believers only. Being in a believing context is more comforting for one becoming a child of God. Third pattern is insensitivity, lacking love for unbelievers. Indifference is a fourth one, not caring about Christ’s command. Unconcern about the many direct command’s of Christ and the apostles in the New Testament. Ingratitude fifth, being ungrateful for salvation. Believers Lose of joy in the Christian life. Ignorance, being unaware of Christ’s commands; evangelism is accidental or at best unintentional.[1]

The question that needs to be asked is: How to overcome these and other patterns to put the people in action for evangelism?

First of all, offer the biblical mandate to the congregation. Convince the congregation of the biblical commands (Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16, 19-20; Luke 24:46-49; John 17:18; Acts 1:8). The reference in the gospel of Mark 16 is excellent example notes for example the Lord command in verses 15-16 he said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” This command was followed with a practical outreach ministry from the disciples, notes in verses 19-20 “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God and they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.” Likewise, the early church took Christ’s command very seriously and they evangelize all Jerusalem (Acts 2:38-41, 47; 4:31; 5:20, 42; 8:4-5, 26-40; and Paul’s missionary journeys Acts 13-28). In addition, every member of the early church was involved in evangelism (Acts 8:4-8), not only the apostles (Peter, John, James, etc) or people who were gifted in evangelism (such as Peter, Philip, Paul, Barnabas, etc) were evangelizing. Notes what Acts 8:4 says, “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” This is just one instance of many were we see every member of the early church had this compassion and enthusiasm about evangelism. Furthermore, the early church even thought of the need of sending missions to the unevangelized areas of their time (Acts 13:1-3). Beside, evangelism was the only means that the early church would grow with (Acts 2:37-38, cf.41; 4:4, 31, cf. 32; 5:42; cf. 6:1; etc).

Secondly, the congregation has to realize that they are either in love with Christ and longing to tell others of Him, or we are ashamed of Him. C.H. Spurgeon once said to his church, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.”

Thirdly, the congregation has to realize that unsaved people are going to hell. Paul says in Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of god is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in righteousness.” After listing all the evil acts and desires people do Paul says in Colossians 3:6 “For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience.” Spurgeon encouraged his church once said, “If sinners be damned, let them have to jump over our bodies, if they go to hell let it be with our arms around their legs. Let no one go there unwarned.”

Fourth, make the congregation energized to evangelism through persistent, specific prayer. Encourage the congregation to pray for specific unbelievers. Pray for God to draw them to salvation which is a work God desires to do (John 6:44; 2 Pet 3:8-9). Let the congregation know that this is a command and a work that the Holy Spirit desires to do in and through people (Romans 10:13-15, 17). The congregation has to think about their personal responsibility (1 Cor 15:3; 1 Pet 2:9). Moreover, witnessing brings joy to God and to the person who is witnessing (Luke 10:17-20). Pray for God to open doors for witnessing (Rom 10:1). Pray for God to grant us the courage and patience (Eph 6:9-10). Pray for God to give us the right words to say (Col 4:4; John 12:49).

Let’s equip our people with this passion for evangelism and give them the outlets for obedience.

Proclaiming the Good News

Evangelism involves proclamation of the good news. As mentioned above the word translated evangelizes in the Greek means “to bring a message, announce good news.” Paul in Romans 10:13-15 remind us by saying, “For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Carrying God’s gracious offer involves human beings whom God has brought Himself and then uses as His heralds. They share God’s message of salvation because He will save everyone who calls on His name. Paul’s then quoted from Isaiah 52:7 concerning the eagerness of the bearers of good news. Those who bear it have a “beautiful … feet,” that is, their message is welcome. Paul also said earlier in the same letter “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jews first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).

The word of God is the mean that the Holy Spirit uses to convert people. Peter in 1 Peter 1:23-25 says, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever and this is the word which was preached to you.” Wayne Grudem commented on these verses saying,

Was the ‘imperishable seed’ the word of God (cf. Lk. 8:11)? Or did Peter mean that the ‘seed’ was the working of the Holy Spirit with and through the word of God? He says they have been born again ‘of’ (ek, ‘out of, from’) imperishable seed ‘through’ (dia, ‘through, by means of’) the living and abiding word of God. The change of prepositions may indicate a change in nuance, but the distinction is not of great significance theologically, for in any case the Holy Spirit is active in causing means God uses to awaken new life in an unbeliever (cf. Rom. 10:17; Jas. 1:18). Yet in this text there is no explicit mention of the Holy Spirit.[2]

A Clear Presentation of the Gospel

Evangelism involves a clear and understandable presentation of the gospel. If a church plan to reach its community it is better to proclaim the gospel clearly. The church has to develop a clear formula of the basic and fundamental points of the message of the gospel. When the congregation don’t have a clear idea about what they want to say their message become ambiguous and unclear to the listener. The church has to equip its people for evangelism with Christ-centered message.

A clear presentation of the gospel centers on these main points. First, the message has to declare God’s holiness (Acts 17:31; 1 Pet 1:16; Rom 6:23; Psalm 50:4). God is Holy He punishes sin. We must give people a thorough grounding in the character of God as the self-sufficient Creator as part of our basic gospel. Second, the message has to reveal man’s sinful condition (Acts 17:30; Rom 3:10-12, 23). Third, the message has to declare Christ as savior and Lord (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 17:30). Fourth, the message has to call sinners to repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 3:9; 9:42; 10:43; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; 2 Cor 7:10-11; 1 Thess 1:9-10).[3] However, anyone who makes the gospel sophisticated and abstract is not making a New Testament proclamation but is trusting in human understanding and his own wisdom (1 Cor 2:4-5).[4]

A Response to the Proclamation of the Gospel

Evangelism involves a response to the proclamation of the gospel. Many times witnessing fall short in the process simply because people are not asked to respond to the message. Asking people to surrender to God and His appointed Savior is one of the steps of witnessing. Unbelievers may heard the gospel news but they perhaps never been told to take a further step in believing and trusting in Christ in a personal level. Witnessing sometimes seen to be more generalized than specific. Believers may fall in arguments and debates with unbelievers, they may tell unbelievers to trust in Jesus but was not in a personal level.

Telling the unchurched about Jesus Christ, his deity, his death, his resurrection and our separation from him is not the final step. These are theological facts that describe every one of us, and require more than a mere nod of the head in response. In fact, they demand a response that involves a change of mind about how we view sin and a determination to turn to God.[5]

This point serve as a bridge to the last point which is seeing people trust in the Lord bring joy to the hearts of believers.

Delight in Seeing People Come to Christ

Evangelism involves a sincere joy and delight in seeing people come to Christ.  Because it is their burden and passion, the church rejoices as men and women come to faith in Christ. The congregation has to sense the excitement of evangelism. “Evangelism is proclaiming the good news. It is action, not just an idea, thought, prayer, something we do. This is the function the church was established to fulfill in the world. Believers were brought in to be edified, and sent out to evangelism.”[6]

Strategic Evangelistic Plans

Up to this point the paper talked about what evangelism involves. Now, here is some ways to encourage and involve the congregation in evangelism. First, enlist the evangelists. Identify, equip, enable, and mobilize evangelists in the church. Train up one man to oversee this area. Train up the evangelist (Eph 4), because with no leader, there is no ministry. Second, plan strategic outreach, not every opportunity is a good opportunity. Investigate; match giftedness with opportunities. The church is called to preach the gospel not just do social projects; the church has to make Christ clear. Third, make use of baptism services. In the New Testament baptism intended to be a public celebration. Believers use to be persecuted for doing such act (1 Pet 3:13-22). This is an opportunity for the body to be encouraged. Sinners are confronted with a changed life as an evangelistic service. Celebrate those who are making the effort, and use them to exhort the others. Fourth, interview believers, in order to, understand their fears and barriers for not witnessing. Fifth, provide resources to be used from the congregation as evangelistic tools. Provide Bibles, tapes, fundamentals of the Faith books or booklets. Sixth, establish a training ministry. A training ministry is intended to help believers memorize verses from the Bible. It also must help believers become flexible and sensitive to the needs of the moments.[7]

Conclusion

D.L. Moody made a covenant with God that he would witness for Christ to at least one person each day. One night, about ten o’clock, he realized that he had not yet witnessed; so he went out in to the street and spoke to a man standing by a lamppost, asking him, “Are you a Christian?” The man flew into a violent rage and threatened to knock Moody into the gutter. Later, that same man went to an elder in the church and complained that Moody was “doing more harm in Chicago than ten men were doing good.” The elder begged Moody to temper his zeal with knowledge. Three months later, Moody was awakened at the YMCA by a man knocking at the door. It was the man he had witnessed to. “I want to talk to you about my soul,” he said to Moody. He apologized for the way he had treated Moody and said that he had had no peace ever since that night on Lake Street when Moody witnessed to him. Moody led the man to Christ and he became a zealous worker in the Sunday school.[8]

This story is about the Billy Graham of the 19th century as once heard. It is simple yet genuine. It express who Moody had the sensitivity to this lost world, the desire to proclaim the message of the gospel, the clear and plain presentation of the gospel, and the response to the proclamation of the gospel, and lastly the delight in seeing people to come to Christ in a personal level.

Paul said one time to Timothy his son, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their won desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 1993.

Grudem, Wayne. “1 Peter,” In The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Vol. 17. Grand Rapid, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1988.

Metzger, Will. Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole person by Whole People. Revised and Expanded. Study Guide Included. 3rd Ed. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2002.

Mounce William D. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.

Stitzinger, Jim, III. “The Way of Salvation: Man-Centered vs. God-Centered Evangelism,” Shepherd’s Conference notes 2005, Grace Community Church, Internet. 2005. Available: http://audio.gracechurch.org/sc/2005notes/StitzingerWayofSalvation.pdf. Accessed October 27, 2007.

__________. “Neighborhood Watch: Methods for Doing Ministry in Your Community,” In the Shepherd’s Conference notes 2007, Grace Community Church, Internet. 2007. Available: http://audio.gracechurch.org/sc/2007notes/Johnson,%20Neighborhood%20Watch.pdf. Accessed October 25, 2007.

Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without compromising Your Message and Mission. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life. NavPress, 1991.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1984.

Witmer, John A. “Romans.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 435-503. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.

Footnotes:

___________________________________________________________________

[1]Jim Stitzinger III, “Neighborhood Watch: Methods for Doing Ministry in Your Community,” In the Shepherd’s Conference notes 2007, Grace Community Church, Internet. 2007. Available: http://audio.gracechurch.org/sc/2007notes/Johnson,%20Neighborhood%20Watch.pdf. Accessed October 25, 2007.

[2]Wayne Grudem, “1 Peter,” In the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 17. (Grand Rapid, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1988), 90-91.

[3]Paul E. Little, How to Give Away Your Faith, (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2006) 115-16. Paul give different kind of patterns to give away the gospel message I like this pattern however you consult Paul’s book and read the many patterns that he lists, pp.104-123.

[4]Ibid. p.105.

[5]Ibid. p.112.

[6]Stitzinger, “The Way of Salvation: Man-Centered vs. God-Centered Evangelism,” Shepherd’s Conference notes 2005, Grace Community Church, Internet. 2005. Available: http://audio.gracechurch.org/sc/2005notes/StitzingerWayofSalvation.pdf. Accessed October 27, 2007.

[7]Ibid. Stitzinger, Neighborhood Watch, pp.13-14.

[8]Warren Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1984) 205.

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