Learning to Evangelize Off Track
As a follower of Christ, everyone has been called to evangelize. Evangelization isn’t a responsibility for preachers and church leaders. You have been rescued to be a part of the rescue team. That being said, if you are going to set out to evangelize, you need to be prepared.
This task isn’t for the faint of heart, especially when the mission is reaching out to anti-Christians. That is the point of this blog series, making sure you are prepared for what you can encounter. I want to play a role in preparing you to lead others towards the cross. As Christians, this is something we are in desperate need of. Still, when we aren’t properly prepared for the task at hand, it can lead any Christian to never hit the streets evangelizing again.
Along with this blog post series, I’ve also published a new book, “Sowing in Hard Ground.” If the Holy Spirit has been prompting you to evangelize, I encourage you to take advantage of some of the lessons I have learned the hard way. A copy of the book can be purchased here.
How Do We Begin?
How do we speak the truth without being soft on sin, without preaching prosperity, without twisting scripture, without suggesting God’s Word is outdated because the world has changed?
I will use the track You Already Know God, 7 Surprising Facts to illustrate the key points you could make when given a chance. We will look at one of these facts in each post of this series. Let the Holy Spirit lead you in the moment. Don’t stay on a track when the Holy Spirit is leading off the track. The track is simply there to, well, keep you on track if you need it.
Before we get to the track, I have a few 30,000-foot-view thoughts.
Firstly, we must start with an assumption that everyone we speak to about Christ, including people going to church, has some arguments going on in their head that fit last week’s post, How The Non-Christian Sees You. The safest way to speak is to the lowest common denominator. If you can cover the abject anti-Christian, the hardest ground, you will cover every latent doubt in the casual Christian’s mind as well.
Secondly, we need to define our objective. Our job as a disciple of Jesus is to introduce them to a relationship they don’t know exists. That is it. God does the rest. If we can convince them that it’s a good idea to start the relationship, we’ve done our job.
I’m sure you must have questions. What about making sure they repent? What about making sure they understand what Jesus did on the cross? What about…
Most of us want to either preach or teach the person in front of us. Preaching won’t help—don’t kid yourself that they care that you, or anyone including God, says they are a sinner. Society says they aren’t, and they say they aren’t, case closed. And teaching won’t help either. There is enough time for them to get educated. They don’t need a human teacher in the very beginning; they need the Holy Spirit. Education won’t save them. Only a desire to fall in love with Jesus will save them.
The sequence of the average unbeliever/casual Christian becoming born again is simply this.
1. Skeptical about everything anyone says. Doesn’t want to be a “Christian,” as they know them. Not going to believe it until they experience it personally. An emotional decision-maker (despite how logical they think they are).
2. Wants to be heard, not talked at. Willing to tell you what they think about God if encouraged.
3. Willing to hear there is a relationship available that will help them find peace, love, and joy in this life, but the relationship is not easily obtained (few find it). Glad to know it’s their decision and up to them to pursue or not.
4. Made a personal decision to pursue a relationship with Christ by reading/listening to the Bible for themselves.
5. The Word convicts, washes clean, and transforms. They become born again in the only way they ever could, by the power of God.
The Bible is not only the power of God; it opens eyes, is a shield of refuge, a precious seed that can grow to produce 100 fold, and the source of blessings. We are leading them to the Word of God.
I have a couple of things that I believe are not the job of an evangelist. If you hear these now, you won’t be looking for them in the track and wondering why they aren’t in there.
These are two “aren’t-supposed-to’s.”
1. You aren’t supposed to convict them of sin; the Holy Spirit will do that. Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, so neither should you. Indeed, nobody ever made it through the narrow gate because they were afraid of hell. Jesus strongly criticized the Pharisees for pushing others to follow the rules out of fear of the consequences. Falling in love (all your heart, soul, mind, might) with your Savior is the only way to eternal life.
And, pertinent to the average westerner who may be skeptical about the afterlife, falling in love with your Savior is the only way to a blessed life now!
Frankly, Jesus talked little about the afterlife. Instead, he spoke extensively about the Kingdom of God/Heaven, which He ushered in 2,000 years ago to be a society of committed followers. Entrance into the Kingdom happens as soon as you are born again. If people know there is value in living in the Kingdom today, only a fool will wait like a thief hanging on the cross until their death bed.
And speaking of value, do you know there is value in living in the Kingdom today? If you call yourself a Christian because you want to save yourself from hell or want to go to heaven to see your relatives, I fear you may not be a Christian at all. If not, please get back to the basics of your relationship with Christ.
Sorry if that sounds harsh, but I trust you are mature enough in faith to hear the truth if you are reading this. Sincerely, please stop right now and ponder, journal, and pray. Why are you a Christian? I pray your answer is something like: “I love living as a follower of Jesus. I love my King! My life is amazing compared to what it was before I fell in love. I will take a bullet for Him. I will do anything for Him because He is my King.” If it isn’t, I fear you may not be on the rock of Jesus Christ.
To recover your first love, “Listen, Learn and Obey”—get in the Word every day, 30 minutes a day, and build/rebuild your relationship and then live it out through obedience. Secondarily, I urge you to continue to read this booklet, so you may know the essential truths of establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you fell for Satan’s deception that “Life is hard as a Christian,” you have been duped, or you are pridefully patting yourself on the back, or you have no memory of life before salvation. Everyone saved later in life knows the difference: life in the Kingdom rocks! Life without God is a merciless hell on earth.
Many of you know this is true but aren’t willing to say it or believe it because you don’t want to be a prosperity or name/claim believer. But it’s easy to avoid both of those:
You don’t tell people they will get rich if they give money, or tell them God wants them to be rich, or tell them they will never experience bad things again.
You don’t tell people God owes them something for being a good child or that He grants their prayers because they demand it. Indeed, God owes us nothing, and we owe Him everything. We serve to glorify Him.
You must tell them the truth. To avoid saying that life is better in Christ than out is tragic! Even the worst that life throws at us, pain, rejection, and torture, is far better in Christ than out. Christ promised it, I’ve experienced it, I’ve watched others discover it, and I’m shouting it from the rooftops! Join me and tell the truth. “Blessed are…” is real, straight from Jesus’ lips, and His born again disciples know it!
2. You aren’t supposed to teach them how to live as a Christian before they are a Christian. They are not a Christian before they get through the narrow gate. They are not through the narrow gate until they are hungering and thirsting for Christ. Therefore, until they are hungering and thirsting for Christ, and even then, only with great delicacy, judge their lifestyles, beliefs, idols, and sins. You are supposed to be modeling trust in the Holy Spirit, yet if you keep sticking
your nose into the Holy Spirit’s job, how much of a Christian are you?
As a Christian, you are a signpost, pointing to Christ, the Word. Trust the Holy Spirit to teach them how to live as a follower of Christ. He will. Just keep pointing them back to a love relationship with encouragement and joy. Be available to answer questions about the scripture they are reading. And be available to hear their journey, their questions, their concerns, their “but, I heard this…”
And even once they are a committed disciple of Jesus, keep letting them know it only gets better and more profound the longer they stay committed. They are heading for joy so immense that even under persecution, Jesus promises we will be blessed. That is a radical promise of living better in the Kingdom! He promises not an avoidance of persecution and hardship, inevitable in this life, but a blessing while in it. This blessing is supernatural grace! Believe!
In next week’s post, we will take an in-depth look at allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us with each evangelizing encounter. If we are going to set out to do God’s work, we need to be willing to allow His Spirit to have His way for us. He is the guide, and we are His servants. Only with this approach do we experience the joy and freedom that comes with pointing others towards the cross.