What’s the True Source of Powerful Evangelism?

In order to be effective in evangelism, we often believe we must be a world class apologist who can answer every question thrown at us, an extrovert who can talk to anyone, and a bold witness who isn’t afraid of persecution or death. While we may think that, the average Christian doesn’t typically possess these characteristics.

According to Jack Miller, the author of Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless, we don’t need to possess these characteristics to be an effective evangelist. He believes effective evangelism, like what took place in the eighteenth century, was built on a different premise. He says,

“I am convinced that what gave evangelists in the eighteenth century remarkable power was the Whitefield-Wesley confidence in the supreme authority of Christ. Jesus acted in and through them not because they were powerful persons, but because they were empty vessels needing grace. He was the one who forgave and cleansed them; He was the one who sent them with the gospel; and He was the one who opened the hearts of hardened people to a very humbling message. By contrast, believers today typically serve a much smaller Christ…

Miller went on to explain the true source of power for evangelism:

The leaders of the Great Awakening had extraordinary power in evangelism and renewal. They followed an omnipotent Christ, the divine warrior, and He anointed them with His missionary presence. But this power was poured out on those who knew that they were inherently powerless without a constant dependence upon the working of God’s grace in their lives.” [1]

It seems counterintuitive to say that the more powerless we are the more effective our evangelism can become, but God doesn’t always work in intuitive ways. Instead, He works in ways that show His power and bring Him glory.

The apostle Paul was familiar with this idea. In 2 Corinthians Paul prayed several times for God to take his “thorn in the flesh,” away. But God didn’t. After wrestling with God’s answer for a time, Paul finally understood why. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10 he writes

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Co 12:9–10)
So instead of allowing our inadequacies to keep us from evangelism, we should allow them to propel us into it. Not in our own strength, but in God’s power working through us. When we do that, we will be powerful witnesses for Christ.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you struggle to rely on God’s power working in you for effective evangelism?

Resources

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[1] Jack Miller, Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless, quoted in Discovering God in the Stories from the Bible, Ryken, pg 124
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How can we increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith?

Every month I attend a networking luncheon of like-minded pastors in my area. Over the years, it has proven to be a great time of fellowship and group learning. Each month, as we gather, we not only have a meal with one another but we discuss a particular topic in an effort to sharpen one another’s ministry. The last time we gathered our topic was evangelism. The question that guided our discussion was: How can we increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith? Our group consists not only of seasoned pastors but church planters as well. As we discussed the question, helpful ideas came from both groups. Some of these are ideas I had thought about before, but others were new.

(1) Coach a team

Almost every city has an opportunity and need for little league coaches. Not only is coaching a great way to give back to your community, but it is an excellent way to get to know kids and parents in the area, who you might not otherwise run across.

(2) Be intentional about getting to know your neighbors and using your home

If we are honest, it’s easy to stay in our family bubble once we get home from a long, hard days work. For the most part, that is not a bad thing. We need to spend time with our family relaxing, but we can’t forget about the Great Commission. Instead of holding up in the house or playing in the backyard out of sight from our neighbors, we should try to move some of our activities to the front yard where we can more easily engage those who live next to us. Once we meet our neighbors, we should invite them over to hang out, watch the game, have dinner, or have their kids over to play with ours. Getting to know their name is only the beginning. If we want to impact their life for Christ, we have to spend time with them.

(3) Be a part of events in your community

One of the church planters in our group rents a space at the YMCA. His church intentionally attends, works, or hosts a booth at almost every event the Y holds. Being involved in these events has allowed them the opportunity to meet a much larger cross section of the community and impact people’s lives for Christ than they would have been able to do by hosting their own events. Besides the increased connection with non-believers, piggy-backing on an already planned event takes the load off organizing and hosting your own event, which gives you more time to focus on the connections you have forged, the people in your church, and your Sunday Service.

(4) Work at a club in your area

Another pastor in our group volunteers his time at the Boys and Girls Club near his house. Not only has he been able to get to know a number of the kids there, but he has also been able to connect with the Director, which has opened up other opportunities. His church has been able to host a VBS at the club and invite those who normally attend to participate.

(5) Be aware of the people God continually puts in your life

Every day we encounter others in our community. Sometimes we come across the same people regularly. When that happens, don’t think it is a coincide. Rather, recognize it for what it is – someone God has placed in your life that He wants you to get to know. So don’t let what seems like a coincidental encounter be wasted, get to know the person.

(6) Video testimonies

Having someone who recently came to Christ through your ministries evangelistic efforts share their testimony is a great way to encourage and spur those in your church to persevere at the task. I suggest videos because they can be edited for time and shown easily in a service and on social media.

(7) Record the number of last week’s gospel conversations in your bulletin

Another pastor in our group has begun to lead his church to talk to as many people about Christ as they can each week (as we all should!). In order to encourage his congregation to take every opportunity to spread the gospel, he quit recording last week’s tithe numbers in the bulletin and replaced them with the number of gospel presentations his members made that last week. Each Sunday he uses that number to either encourage his congregation to do more or keep up the good work.

Question for Reflection

  1. What are other ways to increase our evangelistic opportunities and encourage others to share their faith?

Resource

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Evolution vs. God

Hear expert testimony from leading evolutionary scientists from some of the world’s top universities:

• Peter Nonacs, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
• Craig Stanford, Professor, Biological Sciences and Anthropology, USC
• PZ Myers, Associate Professor, Biology, University of Minnesota Morris
• Gail E. Kennedy, Associate Professor, Anthropology, UCLA

A study of the evidence of vestigial organs, natural selection, the fifth digit, the relevance of the stickleback, Darwin’s finches and Lenski’s bacteria—all under the microscope of the Scientific Method—observable evidence from the minds of experts. Prepare to have your faith shaken, if you are an atheist, and your faith bolstered, if you are a Christian.