Personal evangelism: from “how to” to “want to”
My eldest child is Zachariah. Four years ago, as I drove him to school I spent part of that time praying for him. I often include the following request in my prayer: “Jesus, allow Zachariah to show you to others today who might not know you.” I had prayed this prayer for a couple of weeks before it occurred to me that he might not understand what that meant.
I asked him if he understood. Not surprisingly, he said, “No.” I then explained to him my prayer. By the time I had explained, we had arrived at his school. I dropped him off…end of discussion.
Later that day, I received a phone call from my wife. She asked, “Do you want to hear what Zachariah did at school today?” She proceeded to tell me that Zachariah had shared Jesus with his friends at lunchtime! He had told them about Jesus’ love for them, and that he wanted his friends to be in heaven with him. All of that came from a six year old!
When I had that conversation with him earlier that morning, I didn’t really expect him to do anything about it, I was just explaining my prayer. What an indictment on me! I confess that I had to repent in that moment.
Here is my concern: we, as Christians, know a lot about the deeds and words of the gospel. We know how to serve people, and we know how to tell others about Jesus. For the most part, however, we don’t do those things. Knowing more is not the issue. It’s about a heart for the Great Commandment and Great Commission that moves us to greater obedience.
The first time Zachariah shared the gospel (above), he was six years old. Since then, Zachariah has shared the gospel many times…with his friends in our subdivision and from school, with lost family members, and while on mission trips. The first time Zachariah shared the gospel, he knew some Scripture verses, he knew that Jesus had saved him, and he knew that his friends were separated from God. That was it. He had never taken an evangelism course or participated in a workshop. What compelled him to share was a love of Jesus and a love for others.
How many books, articles, seminars, videos, and programs have you gone through on evangelism? How many of these resources do you have on a bookshelf in your home or office?
Now, let me ask another question: with how many folks have you shared the gospel? Has your amount of knowledge increased the Kingdom? Has more content yielded greater obedience? If you are anything like me, the more I know does not necessarily equal greater obedience.
What about your congregation? How many programs, outreaches, and big events have you put on at your church? What has been the result? Has God’s Kingdom increased?
Don’t get me wrong. I love to learn; I have shelves full of books. I want to be as equipped as possible. I love strategies, systems, and processes. I love finding tools to be more effective in ministry! I am not suggesting that we don’t need to worry about learning, education, strategies, and so forth. What I have learned over the last 18 years, however, is that strategies and tools change. Individual congregations change. Denominations and their leadership change. Because of that, we must constantly focus on what is most important: the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
We need to move from content to obedience. We need to move from the “how to” to the “want to!”
Kris Eldridge lives in Chicago and is the Community Impact Pastor at Christ Community Church. He is also the founder of Outreach Ministry Solutions, where his focus is consulting with churches to help them reach their communities.
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