Desmond Henry on Unleashing the Gift of Evangelism in 2020

Desmond Henry is the Global Network of Evangelist Director for the Luis Palau Association. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.


Evangelism. Evangelist. Evangelize. Who knew that a word with an etymology relating to good news could become such bad news in our world?

We all know that evangelism has fallen on hard times. What is central to Jesus’ mission for us has become secondary to many Christians. Not only does this one word evoke strong emotion (on either side), but it has become increasingly polarizing among evangelicals.

There are few words that consistently cause such varied reactions globally. Some love it and engage in healthy evangelism, some are neutral and prefer to remain unengaged. Yet, others dislike what it entails and some are even unsure about its relevance.

One thing is for sure: evangelism is not going anywhere, and more than ever, we need to reengage in conversation and dialogue around evangelism. Perhaps more than this, we need to embrace and unleash the power and gift of evangelism in our post-everything world.

More than ever, Christians need to reaffirm their commitment to evangelism as a priority in their faith.

Evangelism is…back?

We seem to vacillate in popular opinion regarding the role and importance of evangelism in our faith. There are times when the evangelist is welcomed and there are times when evangelism becomes anathema to Christians—which seems ironic, I know.

Irrespective of our feelings regarding the word itself, sharing one’s faith is an important aspect of the Christian faith. Evangelism is not a side activity for a busy church. Evangelism is not an optional extra. Evangelism is biblical. Evangelism is natural. Evangelism is necessary for Christ-centred, Spirit-filled, and Bible-believing Christians.

John Stott states, “We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behaviour.” Sharing the Good News is good practise for Christians who care deeply about their neighbour, city, and the world.

Evangelism is love

One may even argue that evangelism is good for the world, and that sharing your faith is the most loving step you can take in every relationship. Where (healthy and holistic) evangelism is a priority, Christianity is good for the world, and Christians enjoy the favour of all people.

In an article in American Political Science Review from May 2012, Robert Woodberry, associate professor of Sociology at National University of Singapore, writes that “conversionary Protestants (CPs) heavily inuenced the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world.” According to Woodberry, CPs were a crucial catalyst in “initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions that made stable democracy more likely.”

A world without a priority on evangelism from Christians is a world of hopelessness, darkness, and depravity. Whenever we lose ground on holistic and biblical evangelism, the vacuum is filled with spiritual poverty, shallow commitment and the church Jesus started is reduced to an ecclesial ghetto. If we love our neighbour, then we need to think clearly about our commitment to evangelism.

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Source: Christianity Today