Jump Start # 2136
Acts 5:42 “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Evangelism, along with prayer and giving, are the three topics that we hate to hear sermons on. Immediate guilt. None of us feel that we are excelling in any of these areas. The preacher hammers away on these topics and we know that he is right, but we just have a hard time with these things. Evangelism is often taught and taught in Bible classes. Methods, how to answer questions, what not to do, analyzed, discussed and dissected. A whole quarter of classes on evangelism. And, when few are baptized, we look for a quick answer. The times are different today. It’s the location of the building. Sometimes fingers are pointed at the preacher and he decides to leave. A new face shows up, but little changes.
Let’s say a few things about evangelism. I hope this helps and I hope it helps you to see that you can and you are doing evangelism. I also hope that we put the guilt away. Shaming someone rarely brings lasting positive results.
First, understand that evangelism is more than sitting down and studying the Bible with someone. Too often, that is the only image that comes to our minds. If that indeed is the only way of evangelism, then some of us should not do it. Not everyone is capable nor good at teaching the Bible to others. It’s hard to answer questions. It’s hard to read people. It’s hard to know just where to start.
I’ve had some work done to my house recently. Had to bust up a side walk and have a portion of it put back in. Also, had to connect some outside accent lights. I got part of the lights rewired but I wasn’t sure about one wire. I called my friend Greg from church. He knows wiring. It took him just a minute. But he’s the expert. I had to get Steve, my concrete guy from church to do my sidewalks. I have no idea how to do that. Now, I’m going somewhere with this. For years, we’ve presented the idea that every Christian ought to be able to do what all the rest can do. All of us ought to be able to teach a class, give an invitation, and lead others to Christ. Cookie-cutter concept. We all look and do the same. Paul’s instructions about spiritual gifts reminds us that some are hands, others are feet. Some are ears and some are eyes. Each is needed, but each is different and gifted in different ways. Not all of us can teach others. However, that is not the only way evangelism is done. I’ll share some ideas at the end of this Jump Start. We share different talents and gifts. Some are better at encouraging than others. Some know just the right thing to say to someone who is down. Others are great at inviting. Give them just a few seconds and they’ll invite just about everyone they come into contact with. Upbeat, optimistic, smiling, they are great inviters. Others are masters at teaching. They know just how to get to the heart of things. We work as a team. The inviter may not be so great at teaching. And the teacher may not be so great at inviting. Rather than trying to push a round peg into a square hole, work with what is natural. Be a team and help each other. The inviter invites and the teacher teaches. Together, they show a person the Gospel message.
Second, have you noticed that God never puts quotas on churches. We do. God told the apostles to teach the world. What the listener does with that teaching is between them and God. God gives the increase. In addressing the seven churches of Asia, in Revelation 2 & 3, growth, size and the number of baptized never comes up. Growth is not always visible by new additions. Internal growth, changing hearts, becoming stronger, developing leaders, not the same as baptisms, but important and a part of growth.
American churches like to count. We count the Sunday morning attendance. Then we count the Sunday night attendance. Then we compare, complain and wonder what to do to bring those numbers closer together. Why does size matter? Why do we count? We read early in Acts of 3,000 and then 5,000 coming to the Lord. Later, the number is simply called multitudes. Was this something God intended for all churches to do, or was this to show the fulfillment of the parable of the mustard seed. The kingdom started with a handful of men and women and then exploded world wide. God knew what He was talking about.
Third, living for Jesus is always the first step of evangelism. It’s hard to convince someone if they first don’t see it in me. There ought to be a passion, a commitment and a hope that is visible, genuine and attractive. My choices: of words, clothing, movies, attitudes—all reflect my seriousness about Jesus. The world sees. Am I grumpy all the time? Do I forgive? Do I have to have my way? Am I a team player? Do I take worship seriously? Sometimes it’s not the message, but the messenger that gets in the way of someone coming to Christ.
Finally, there are many steps to leading a person to Christ. I like the word “bridges.” One bridge alone may not convert a person, but it may be the very thing that leads to the next step or the next person. The church is a team and when we work together, like a team good things can happen.
So, here are a few ideas:
- If you know a friend is coming with you on Sunday, let the preacher know in advance. He may just preach something that would be very fitting for your friend. This is how we work as a team. Be sure and introduce your friend to others and explain to them what is going on.
- In a restaurant, as you pray for your food, often a server will see what you are doing and stand quietly to the side. Ask the server if there is anything in her life that you could pray about. I’ve seen so many bring up sick kids, aging grandparents and nearly all of them thankful that you asked and you invited them into your prayer.
- Instead of just inviting someone to church services, invite them over to your home for a meal. People don’t do that much anymore. Let them talk. Show interests. Ask them if they would like to look at some Bible passages together, especially about parenting or marriage.
- You see a young person staring at their phone. This is an everyday occurrence. Ask them if they have a Bible app on their phone. Most do. Ask them what are they reading in the Bible. A conversation begins.
- Many are using our Jump Starts as bridges to connect to people. Here’s how:
– Some have their own group of people that they send Jump Starts to
– Some have used our Jump Start books to pass along to others. Some have placed them in waiting rooms and reception areas. Some have left them on a hotel bed with a tip and a note.
– Some are keeping their own files of specific topics so they can send them to others. One elder in another state has developed his own archive system of Jump Starts to help him in shepherding others.
- Get to the funerals of friends and neighbors. Your presence is impressive, especially in these busy days we live in. Follow up and talk with folks. You would be amazed at all the questions people have about death.
- Be a friend. Be the neighbor that jumps in and helps out another. Be the one who is quick to bring sunshine and encouragement to those who are down. Be the guy at work who lifts the spirits of others. Be a listener.
- Invite folks to come to a singing. Most haven’t heard of hymns being sung without a band, not in these days. Give it a try.
- Use Facebook and Twitter to do more than send pics of the grandkids and pictures of food. Use it for the kingdom. Share things that your congregation posts. Use social media as a bulletin board for upcoming classes and lessons at the congregation. Put positive, Biblical quotes on your page.
Now, will these alone convert someone. No. But they are stepping stones, bridges, that may lead to conversations and open Bibles. There are so many things that we are doing and can continue to do. Just sowing that seed, that’s our job. Some of the seed, as in the parable, may not fall in productive places. Some may be wasted. But some just might bring about a soul to the Lord.
One other thing to do is pray. Always pray for one you are trying to lead to the Lord. Pray for open hearts. Pray that you might say the right thing. Pray for courage. And, thank the Lord that you can be used as a tool to help someone.
Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Just keep throwing and throwing that seed. Throw it at home. Throw it in the neighborhood. Throw it at work. And then, let your light shine!