Spiritual Disciplines: Evangelism

We continue our reading of Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life together this week by turning our time and attention to the topic of Evangelism. If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing, you can read about it here: Will You Read Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life With Me? Last week, we discussed worship. In that post, we discovered that meditating on Scripture is unlocks yet another door to experiencing more of God. As we dwell on His Word our affections are stirred towards worship.  

Each week I issue something similar to the following reminder: delight not ritual and routine lead to the growth we seek. Simply walking through the motions won’t help you grow in godliness. Engaging in the Spiritual Disciplines because they get you more of Jesus helps you become more like Him. Keep this in mind each week as you study and read. 

Summary

Nothing causes more anxiety among Christians than to be reminded of the call to evangelism. Fear of rejection and what others might think keep too many of us from engaging our friends, family and especially strangers with the gospel. “Godliness requires that we discipline ourselves,” Whitney said, “in the practice of evangelism.” 

Evangelism is first and foremost a faithfulness issue. Will we be faithful to what the Lord calls us to do, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel? That’s exactly what God is calling Christians to do in every area of their lives—trust and obey Him—and talking about Jesus is no different. Yet so many of us remain content to seek obedience in other areas, while neglecting God’s clear call to point others to Him.  

Sharing the faith is expected to be natural and normative for the believer. “He calls all believers to be His witnesses,” Whitney said, “and provides them with both the power to witness and a powerful message.” Not only is it the calling on the believer's life, but an empowered calling. The Christian’s, “efforts in evangelism,” Whitney said, “are empowered by The Holy Spirit.”

He is with you, and working through your words to change hearts. It may not seem like it, but He is at work. Even when the door is slammed in your face, or when the person is hostile and aggressive towards you, The Spirit is doing His thing. Success in evangelism isn’t measured by outcomes, it’s measured by faithfulness.  

The gospel is the power of God for salvation and sharing it with others is His prescribed method for saving. “The goal is not just to rub shoulders with unbelievers,” Whitney said, “but to dialogue with them in such a way that their hearts and minds might be opened to the gospel.” In short, Christians are to build real, genuine and deep friendships with those far from God. 

Relationships are imperative for they provide the context in which we can ask good questions, comfort the hurting and love people well. Evangelism is at its heart relationship oriented. Yes there is much fruit in sharing Christ with strangers, but more often than not we are going to find a soft spot to land the plane and discuss deeper issues with those we know.  

This of course assumes we can clearly articulate the story of the Bible. “You can’t be saved by a gospel,” Whitney said, “you don’t understand and believe.” Christians must get comfortable having spiritual conversations and comfortable with discussing what God in Christ has done for them. They must learn the gospel inside and out. “There is a correlation between the pursuit of godliness and a passion for God’s message.” Whitney said, “The more we pursue Christ, the more we want to proclaim Christ.”  

The overarching principle of this chapter is this: God has called believers to share the good news of the gospel with those who don’t know Him. You have been shown much grace. Share it with others.  

Reflection

I used to think that I wasn’t being faithful if I didn’t get a full gospel presentation into a conversation with a non-Christian. It wasn’t until I read Tactics by Greg Koukl that I realized that not every conversation needed one. Some encounters are brief and leave only the time for a question or two. Which is why I have found Greg’s guidance so helpful. Over the last year or so my goal has shifted from “get to the gospel as quickly as possible” to “ask them a good question that leaves them thinking.” 

The following two questions from Greg completely changed how I have spiritual conversations. When someone puts forth a differing view I quickly pull out these two questions. They help me learn what they mean in their own words and give me the lay of the land so that I know how to proceed.  

1. What do you mean by that?
2. How did you come to that conclusion?

Next Week

We will continue with the next chapter (chapter seven) of the book next Sunday. We’re in the middle of a series on Spiritual Disciplines, and would love for you to get the book and join in. Click here to see what ground we’ve covered so far. 

Your Turn

I’d like to hear what stood out to you this week. Please feel free to post your reflections, and thoughts in the comment section below. If you have shared your thoughts on your own blog, please link to it as well. Do not feel the need to be profound or to share something new. Simply share what caught your eye, or stirred your heart as you read. 
 

Asking for permission

You’re going to have to tell people things they don’t want to hear. 

Maybe they did something to offend or hurt you, or perhaps you’ve noticed something in their life that is out of whack and needs addressing. 

Whatever the reason, your love, and care for others will require you to have hard conversations. 

How you go about doing so is paramount. 

One of the best sets of questions comes from Scott Kedersha who will ask, “Can I share something with you?” or “Can I give you some feedback on some things I have seen in you?”

That’s exactly how you approach a difficult conversation. 

Conversations go smoother when you lead by asking permission to share hard things. 

Sadly, people more often choose the opposite approach. 

Be different and stand out from the crowd. 

Care and love enough not only to have the hard conversation but to do so with a soft and gentle touch.

‘You catch more flies with honey’ as they say. 

Look To Christ Not Self-Discipline

The default position of the human heart is set towards earning. We assume that we must work and work and work to achieve absolutely everything, including God’s praise. 

“We all automatically gravitate toward the assumption that we are justified by our level of sanctification…We start each day with our personal security resting not on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ but on our present feelings or recent achievements in [religion]. Since these arguments will not quiet the human conscience, we are inevitably moved…to a self-righteousness which falsifies the record to achieve a sense of peace.” —Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life

Hit pause for a moment before heading out the door to worship or whatever it is on your calendar this day. Look at your heart and life. Consider its defaults position and ask yourself examining questions. Questions like, “Do I place too much stock in my own self-discipline?” Or, “Have I come to believe that I am saved by my own efforts and will?” Better still, “If someone were to look at my life, would they conclude the same?” 

I struggle and fall into this trap far too often. I can allow how I am doing and how disciplined I am to become the measure of my relationship with God. I feel close and pleasing to Him when I am doing well; and distant and displeasing when I fall short. 

Neither of those things is true. My standing before God does not change regardless of how early I get up, how much time I spend reading the Bible, or how I pray. It also does not shift or change when I choose to sin. 

Right behavior and discipline are not the foundation of our relationship with God. Christ’s is. He measured up in every way we fall short and more.  

Look to Christ for security instead of at your subjective performance. It’s a far more stable foundation. It will not fail.