In Act II, Scene II of the classic work, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, there is a famous conversation between the couple. They love each other and want to be together, but they carry the burden of their surnames, and this means that they will be apart forever. In the midst of this complicated mix of feelings and emotions, Juliet uses a metaphor to persuade Romeo that their names do not matter; she says that if a rose had another name, it would still produce the same perfume. I believe that evangelism has a similar dynamic, because although the name comes with a full range of feelings, pre-concepts, fears and worldviews, it’s true nature, motivations and purpose, go beyond any word that we can use to name it.
It is time for people to understand what evangelism is, and what it means for the church of the 21st Century to engage in evangelism. So, to begin to ‘stir this pot’ I would like to introduce 10 things that evangelism is not.
1. Evangelism is not supposed to be complicated.
One of the first things that comes to people’s minds when they hear the “E” word, is “it’s complicated”, but the fact is that this is not true. Evangelism is not complicated; it is simply to share with the world the life that you have found in Jesus.
There are three people who, in a very natural way, carried out evangelism in the New Testament, but who many people don’t recognise as engaging in evangelism. They are the blind man, the demon-possessed man of Gadarene, and the Samaritan women. None of them knew Jesus for a long time, or had much, if any, training. But they were willing to share the difference that Jesus had made in their lives and that is what it is to evangelise – to share who Jesus is and to share what difference He is making in our lives.
2. Evangelism is not supposed to be born out of guilt.
We don’t evangelise to be saved or to earn salvation, but because we are saved. Some Christians share the Gospel only because of internal pressure and because they feel obliged to repay the debt that Jesus paid when He went to the cross – this feeling is based in guilt. In reality though, evangelism is a response to His love and forgiveness, that rises up in us because we want everyone to experience the same level of abundant life that we are experiencing. This removes the need for guilt and leaves only a place for loving obedience.
3. Evangelism is not supposed to be a response to external pressure.
We shouldn’t evangelise because people around us are pressuring us to do it, but because Jesus released us and sends us to share the good news. Any motive that is not from God or Godly is a wrong motive. Your friends, church leaders and family should encourage you and cheer you on in your evangelism and ministry, but that should never become an external pressure to “make” you go and share. Remember that Jesus is freedom, and it is important that we share because we are free to do so. At the heart of evangelism is the truth that because love has found us, we now want to share this love with the world.
4. Evangelism is not to bullying, coercing or convincing people.
We don’t bully people into accepting the gospel. Evangelism should never be an ‘act of terror’ and we definitely shouldn’t try to coerce anyone into becoming a Christian. In the past I was a victim of ‘terror evangelism’; while I was still an atheist, I was the target of many people who knocked at my door asking: “Do you know that if you die today you will go to hell and burn forever?” I don’t know if you have ever had an experience like this, or if, like me, you were the target of something similar, but I have never met anyone who came to Jesus because of this kind of evangelism.
It is not our role in evangelism to convince people. Yes! I will write it again to help people to be released from this burden! It is not your role to convince people; that role belongs to the Holy Spirit. Although we need to be ready to give the reason for our faith, the Holy Spirit is the one who convinces, and He is very good at doing that! Our role is to present and proclaim Christ to the world, everything else is the work of the Holy Spirit.
5. Evangelism is not the marketing of your local church.
It’s ok that you like your local church, and it’s ok to invite people to come along, but this is not evangelism. Many churches think that to invite people to an event or service is evangelism, but this is not the case. Evangelism is to share the good news of Jesus and His story, with the world. It’s not wrong to offer an invitation or to be willing to bring people to our local churches, but what changes people’s lives is the gospel, and that’s what we need to be actively sharing!
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Source: Christianity Today