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

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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Share Your Story

If you are a Christian, you have a story about how you came to salvation — a testimony.

My Story

My testimony is that I grew up in a Christian home, and I went to a Christian school. Because of my familiarity with the Bible through church and school, I mistakenly thought I was a Christian.

However, when I was 16, some of my friends in the youth group and my Youth Pastor, at the time, started to challenge my understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. I knew all the right words to say, I knew all the answers to give — I was a sinner, Jesus was my Savior, I needed to repent and believe. If you would have pressed me, I would have said I believed those things. There, however, was just one problem, what I professed to believe hadn’t affected my life. I still desired, did, and sought out the same things as before. That’s a problem because when you become a believer your heart should change, which means that your affections, desires, and will should change so that they are for the things of God. Of course, this will take place in greater degrees over time through the process of sanctification, but if this has not happened in your life, then you may need to question whether you are a believer or not like I had to do.

As I thought about the conversations I had with my friends, I realized I was actually living in opposition to God instead of for Him. It’s at that time I repented of my sins, made a public profession of faith through baptism, and I started to actually live my life for God. Since then, I have had my fair share of struggles and setbacks, but, for the most part, I have been living for and growing in my relationship with Jesus. That’s my story.

Share Your Story

I know you have a story as well. Just like I have shared my story with you, it is good for you to share your story with others. It’s an easy way to evangelize, and a way to worship the Lord for the work He has done in your life.

If you haven’t shared your testimony with anyone lately, I challenge you to do so. Hearing that, some of you may be like a deer in the headlights — frozen with fear. Or you might be thinking, “You want me to actually open up to someone else and tell them my story?” Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to do. I want you to share your testimony with someone else. To make it easier, I suggest you start with your spouse or a family member. You know them well, so it should be easy to talk with them.

After you have shared your testimony with a friend or family member a few times and are comfortable with it, begin to work outwards. Next time you are talking with a co-worker, friend, or neighbor and the conversation turns toward the spiritual, take some time to tell them your story. It’s a great way to share the gospel with them because everyone loves to hear stories, especially stories of change. So if you haven’t shared your testimony lately, I challenge you to do that this week.

Necessary Elements

While we all have our individual stories of how we came to salvation, there are several threads that should be present in all our stories.

  • We must all recognize that we are sinners, who deserve to be punished by God.
  • We must all recognize Jesus is our Savior, the One who took our punishment for us.
  • We must all recognize our need to repent of our sins, and follow Jesus as the Lord of our lives.

Those are the necessary elements that should be present in all our stories, so build your testimony around them as you practice sharing it this week.

Question for Reflection

  1. Who did you share your testimony with this week?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon The Humility of Salvation.

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