In November 2019, I decided to write short summaries of each chapter in Thabiti Anabwile’s great book: “What Is A Healthy Church Member?”, which discusses 10 character traits of a healthy church member. This is part 5 in that 10 part series. If you would like to read the other blogs in this series, please visit our blog.
A HEALTHY CHURCH MEMBER IS A BIBLICAL EVANGELIST
To begin, let’s define our terms. Evangelism comes from a Greek word (εὐαγγελίζω) that simply means “To share the Good News”. So if a healthy church member is a Biblical evangelist, then a healthy church member is one who will share the good news about Christ with others.
Thabiti undergirds this definition with an amazing point:
“When we have a good grasp on conversion, we realize that evangelism does not depend on eloquence, using the correct mood lighting, emotionally sappy stories and songs, or on high pressure sales pitches.”
Instead, as Christians, we are free to share the simple Gospel message that He commanded (Matthew. 28:18-20) out of love and obedience to Christ (John 14:15).
WHAT IS THAT SIMPLE GOSPEL MESSAGE?
It involves three basic parts.
The first thing we share with someone is Gospel content. This includes elements such as: “who is God? (Holy, righteous, just, loving, infinite, etc)”, “who are we? (sinners who have fallen short of God’s glory)”, “what is sin? (rebellion against an infinite God that merits infinite consequences)”, “who is Jesus? (The eternal Son of God who came to rescue and deliver us)” and “How do we know this?” (We know this from the Word, that gives us the entire picture of Christ, His saving work, and what we must do to have life in Him).
A second basic part to a simple Gospel presentation is the idea of exclusivity. We do not want to unwittingly communicate that Jesus is “a” way to God among the myriad of rival positions. We want to accurately communicate the truth of John 14:6, that Jesus is THE way, and THE truth, and THE life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. And while exclusivity seems to be culturally taboo, since it is true, the most loving thing we could ever do is to share it!
The last element of a simple Gospel message is the call for belief. If this element is missing, then we have only shared facts that can be memorized, which will not lead to life! John the Gospel writer says it this way:
For God so loved the world (Content), that He gave His only begotten Son (Exclusivity), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Belief). - John 3:16
All three elements are critical if we want to be healthy Biblical evangelists.
WHO AM I CALLED TO SHARE THIS MESSAGE WITH?
Thabiti does not address this issue in the chapter, but I think it is worth quickly noting. The Bible says that the Gospel is the power of God, not our fine-sounding arguments (Rom. 1:16). Our responsibility (as the individuals that make up the Church) is to faithfully proclaim that Gospel message to the world (Mt. 24:14) and to make disciples of the converted (Mt. 28:18-20). We are His royal ambassadors to the lost and dying (2 Cor. 5:20) and workers in His fields to identify who He has chosen to save (Mt. 9:37-38). We are to trust that the Holy Spirit has equipped us as witnesses (Acts 1:8), even as we also diligently prepare, study, and await opportunities to share with anyone who asks (1 Peter 3:15).
While this is only a sample of the relevant Scriptures, we see that God is doing His part in evangelism (saving the lost), while also giving us a role that we must be obedient to (sharing that message with the people God has surrounded us with). God has given us a part to play in evangelism and that is to share the message. We need not worry if we are an effective evangelist, because it is God alone who saves. The real question, is will we be an obedient evangelist? Will we make space in our lives to actually share this message with real people, while we leave the results to God?
WHAT THINGS SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN EVANGELIZING?
While entire books have been written on this subject, the following will only briefly describe 10 things for consideration.
The greatest obstacle to sharing our faith is not ability but commitment. Do we see this as a matter of Biblical obedience and will we trust that the Lord will supply our every need? If yes, then the only thing left is to do it!
We must know that Christians who share their faith are not more impressive to God. We do not do this to get God to love us more, we do it because we love God and want others to experience His grace!
Before sharing, we must make sure we understand the Gospel (Content, Exclusivity, and Belief). These essential elements are non-essential components of the Good News and lack the Spirit’s power when missing or muted.
We must avoid the trend of decisionism (getting people to simply make a decision). The Bible says that men and women are to count their costs. We can be honest to share that following Christ is not easy and will require sacrifice. We also want to see that men and women are making a Spirit-led decision and not merely an emotional one.
If hell is real, if tomorrow is not promised, and if the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, then evangelism ought to be the most urgent thing we do!
For those of us who know the joy found in Christ, that His mercies are new every morning, that He showers us with grace upon grace, sharing the Gospel is not a duty but a delight. All we are doing is sharing the wonders of our wonderful God! There is tons of joy in that!
It is true that the message we share must be Biblical. But, it is also crucial to use the Bible, to open it, point people to it’s passages, and show them chapter and verse where the Gospel is found. This allows them to see that we are not merely sharing opinions. It shows that our Words are rooted in objective truth and that we submit our lives under the Bible’s authority.
Along with sharing the message, we also share our lives. If the character of our life is inconsistent with the message we say has power, then our lives will be a stumbling block to the unbeliever. Sure, God can use the vilest sinner to advance His Kingdom. But, He also tells us to allow our lives to be a testimony of the power of God, so that even unbelievers will see and believe through our godly character (Mt. 5:15-16).
Jesus says the harvest is plentiful. He does not say: “Therefore go and get to work”. He says: “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt. 9:38 ESV). Apparently, Jesus considered prayer essential to the task of evangelism and so should we.
If a Christian is going to a faithful church where the Gospel is regularly being communicated, inviting a friend to church is a wonderful way to reinforce the conversations and time you have already invested. There, the unbeliever can see and experience the Gospel through song, through fellowship, and through the Word preached. And again, this can be a wonderful supplement to the ministry you are already having in their life.
May the Lord bless you and keep you as you share His message of hope with a world in desperate need. And may you continue to grow deep in Christ until I write again!