What is the first evidence that someone is drunk? Way before they fall unconscious, even before they start slurring their words or lose their ability to walk in a straight line, the first thing you’re likely to see is a complete absence of inhibition. Continue reading
Posts Categorized: Evangelism
Think of the last time you went to a really great restaurant. You might have praised the owner or the waiter who served you, telling them how amazing the food was. But after you left the restaurant you most likely told a friend that they just have to go try it.
Speaking to the owner or waiter was worship; speaking to your friend was evangelism. You may have said the exact same things, but your words were addressed to different audiences.
One of the reasons God saves you is “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2.9). In other words, he saved you in order to turn you into a proclaimer. And your proclamation is going to be pointed in two directions: it will be directed towards God as worship, and it will be directed towards others as evangelism.
I think evangelism can be made a lot more complicated than it needs to be. We make it hard by assuming that we have to have comprehensive knowledge of the Bible, training from experts, familiarity with apologetics and philosophy, and the ability to persuade people. All of these things can be useful, but it’s sad when Christians feel they can’t evangelise.
If you can talk about your favourite restaurant, film, city, beach, comedian, coffee, artist, shop, designer, actor, band, programming language or book, then you can evangelise. Worship is the outflow of enthusiastic and passionate admiration. But when you think of it, so is evangelism.
A little while ago my sister-in-law told me of a conversation she had with a guy at her church. He was pretty vocal about his favourite clubs and music, but he said that evangelism wasn’t his thing; he couldn’t tell people about Jesus. She told him that if he could enthuse about the things he loved, then he could tell people about Jesus.
When worship is the outflow of your heart because you really love Jesus, and you want to thank him for all he is and all he’s done for you, then evangelism need not be any more complicated or difficult than letting others overhear something of that passion. I once heard one of country’s foremost apologists, Amy Orr-Ewing, put it somewhat like this: “We just need to go and tell people how amazingly wonderful Jesus is. It’s as simple as that.”
Phil Moore, leader of Everyday Church in Wimbledon, has written a series of blogs describing lessons from the life of James Fraser.
Fraser was a pioneer missionary to the Lisu people in China in the early 1900s . I remember reading a little of his story when I was a child, and in particular the account of his prayer life which proved more effective by far than his personal witness and evangelism!
Phil has spent a couple of months immersing himself in the life and writings of Fraser, seeking to discern the vital elements that made his ministry so effective. It is no exaggeration to say that the man’s legacy continues to ripple on through China to this day. To us who long for revival of true Christianity here in Europe, we would do well to pay careful attention to these gleanings from Fraser’s life.
Sharing your testimony is a Biblical form of evangelism. When Jesus heals the man tormented by a ‘legion’ of demons, he doesn’t allow the man to become his disciple, but instead he spins him around, pats him on the back, and tells him, “Go home to your own and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
However, not all of us feel that we have a story to tell – not like that man’s story. What happens if you grew up in a Christian home, gave your life to Jesus at age 4, and never looked back? Since we’re not necessarily allowed to ‘spice it up’ (i.e. throw in some stories about drugs and sex and stealing) how can we give a compelling account of what the Lord has done for us, and how he has had mercy on us?
Here are a couple of thoughts that might help:
1. Your passion is a story in itself. If Jesus is everything to you, and his love causes your heart to burst in amazement and appreciation; if you have felt the depths of his forgiveness and mercy; if you have ever meditated in wonder on the cross; if you have felt the Father’s embrace – if any of these things are true of you, then you have a story to tell.
It doesn’t matter to me whether a cod liver oil enthusiast came to it at a late age, having spent his former years denouncing it as a vile substitute for real medicine, and then experienced a change of heart and mind at a later stage, or whether he grew up consuming his daily dose and never deviated from the path. All that matters is his enthusiasm. If he’s passionate about it, and can testify how much it has benefitted his life, I’ll listen.
However, if you can’t articulate with any passion what Jesus has done for you, I think you need to start checking your spiritual pulse. Is there any sign of life? Are you really born again?
Those of us who grew up believing, and don’t remember a time when we didn’t believe, have so many reasons to be passionate about and grateful towards Jesus. We have enjoyed grace and favour we didn’t deserve, privileges we didn’t choose, protection we weren’t worthy of. And we know Jesus now and can speak about him with enthusiasm and passion now.
2. Your parents’ story is your story. My younger brother pointed this out to me just yesterday, and I thought is was such a great insight it had to be worth blogging about.
Your testimony does not begin with your childhood, it goes further back than that. (I don’t necessarily mean that we need to start before the foundation of the world, but you could go there if you wanted to.) The testimony of me and my brothers really begins in the 1960s, long before we were born. Our parents (and grandparents on my mother’s side) have their stories of how God rescued them, and these stories are part of our stories. I’m a Christian partly because of the powerful influence of my parents, and so my testimony begins far back, when Jesus rescued them.
Some Jewish people, even to this very day, would tell their testimony like this. “We were slaves in Egypt, and God rescued us…” The stories of our forefathers are part of our story.
So, perhaps it’s time to sit down with your parents, if possible, and ask them how they came to faith? Telling your testimony may well begin by telling theirs.