In thinking through my own methods of sharing the gospel I find that my ministry of evangelism would not be defined, for the most part, according to 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5.
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
In other words, my evangelistic zeal has mainly been over the awesome facts of the message of the gospel, the doctrines of grace and what Jesus has accomplished by his life, death and resurrection. And yes, the power is in the gospel so what’s the problem Marc? Is it that you want to become one who “always shares the gospel and when necessary speaks?” No way, I think that is a whack, silly, and an unbiblical cop-out for those of us that would say evangelism is not our gift. We are to always love people in actions and words when it comes to sharing the gospel. My issue isn’t even over faithfulness and fruitfulness, we are to be faithful and desire fruit in evangelism. I am not even trying to compare fruit, I know I am not a Mason Leaf or Billy Graham. However, I do strive to share the good news of Jesus and have seen people come to Christ since I began seeing the need to share the gospel in late 1980’s as a break-dancing teen with a sheet of cardboard who would steal his sisters red parachute paints and high-top converse shoes to become “all things to all men” or to just fit in, not sure.
The issue with myself today comes when I begin characterizing my preaching or sharing the good news. Do I put more emphasis on my methods and words or on the Gospel with the power of the Holy Spirit? I would not say that my life of evangelism has mainly or consistently been characterized by “POWER or miraculous POWER” or the “manifestations of the Spirit’s approving presence” with “transparent sincerity and integrity and certainty in the hearers’ minds”. (esv study bible notes)
Although I don’t like boxes, I do like methods, I like plans, I like strategy and I like leading others into battle with swords ready to breakdown strongholds with the gospel watching people run out in freedom. But I can control my methods, I can’t control the Holy Spirit.
Simple solution: Have methods and let the overriding glue of it be dependence on prayer, the Word of God, the life and works of Christ, the sovereignty and love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. What kind of man will I prove to be? One who shares the gospel relying on a tidy method (however simple or complex) or one who shares the gospel unleashed?
Hard solution: De and reprogramming. Keeping treasures and throwing out trash, even if it doesn’t seem to stink too bad.
Here are some of my thoughts this morning about methods and how they can fail.
Methods in evangelism have the potential to fail when:
1. They are supreme.
- Contextualization will always be something we have to do and we have to fight. There really are some things that we need to avoid doing and saying in order to reach the “all men” of the cultures we live in.
- Culture is constantly changing, methods are in constant need of change.
- The good news is supreme because Jesus is supreme.
- Yesterdays method could be today’s stumbling block.
2. They are not evaluated.
- We must constantly review, compare, and align our message with The Message.
- We must not push the gospel through our methods but evaluate our methods through the gospel.
4. They are overly exclusive.
- Does my method exclude most people around me from hearing the gospel?
5. They fit neatly into a ministry toolbox.
- Is my message like a tool that lays down nicely with true and good weight in my toolbox or is it more like a lion that does not want to be caged or tamed?
6. They are practiced in pride and without love.
- What motivates the sharing of the gospel? Is it the love of God and my love for God and people?
- Do we just want great things to report to people through the pulpit, newsletters, facebook and tweets?
- Do we care more about our spiritual empire and our boarders being increased than we do about the integrity of the gospel and the work of the Spirit?
7. They seemingly get the job done without power and without the Holy Spirit.
- Many congregations all over the world could be characterized by moral people who are not “fully convicted”.
- Can I work my plan and ministry without prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit?
8. They boast of fitting every believer.
- We are all different and unique within different and unique circles of influence. Therefore, methods should have much common ground, but also must be adaptable to each believer in a way that is biblical and loving.
- Even now, I just received a call from a stranger dude trying to sale me a hotel/dining membership that is really a good deal. Thanks to one of my friends here in Thailand I got the call. Thing is, I just don’t like sales calls, even if it is beneficial. There are different ways I get convinced of good deals…like friends, articles, ads, consumer reports etc. I am sure the nice guy hung up and kept going because he knows that method is good for him to use and some people “take to it”. I am in no way trying to make the gospel into a good deal, just comparing methods that fit with some people and don’t with others.
9. They are stupid. (will fail)
- Sorry, but some methods are just plain stupid. I recall reading about one man’s method of “swaying people” to believe. He said you should share the gospel and then place your hands on their shoulder as you look right into their eyes(this makes them focus and gives you some control). Next, tell them that they need to give their lives to Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour and tell them to pray after you right now. At this point he would probably say you should drop your head and fervently and boldly pray in a slightly deeper or wispy voice, depending on the person. I am sure he even would tell you to squeeze their shoulder if they pause when it is there turn to pray the mantra.
10. Do not contain the gospel. (will fail)
- Many methods can have the intent of evangelism but lack the gospel in the end.
- There will not be evangelism with power if the gospel is diminished, taken out, or distorted.
May God help me to share his saving message in dependence on him and with power! May he be praised for even working in and through me when I trust in methods more than him.
Still processing all of this. What do you think?