Reclaiming Evangelism



Reclaiming the Work of Evangelism

 
If a new restaurant came to town and you discovered the very best chicken fried steak meal of your life, what would your response be?  This steak is perfectly battered, deliciously seasoned and so tender you could cut it with a fork.  The mashed potatoes next to it are light and fluffy and the green beans were the right combination of cooked and crisp.  The gravy was pure heaven.  And the moment you think the meal could not get better, a delicious piece of chocolate cake arrives at the table.  After this amazing experience, do you just go home and tell no one?  Or do you post about it on social media, text your best friend, call you mom?  Most folks would want to share their experience at this new restaurant. We share things all the time that enrich our lives, yet we sometimes find it hard to share about the work God is doing in our life.
 
Evangelism has become a taboo word, both within and outside of the church.  According to a recent Barna Group study, “A startling six in 10 Americans believe that any ‘attempt to convert others’ to one’s own faith is ‘extreme.’ More than eight out of 10 ‘nones’ say so.
To be clear: A majority of US adults, and the vast majority of non-religious adults (83%), believe that evangelism is religiously extreme.”  While that can be seen as bad news, Barna also reports that 54% of those same non-religious adults, would welcome a conversation about Jesus Christ.
 
When done poorly, coercive evangelism can do harm, but done well, after the example of Christ found in scripture , Evangelism is a lifeline to a broken and hurting world.  Here are some ways to think about evangelism that is healthy, whole and life giving.
 
Evangelism is our sharing and inviting others to experience the good news that God loves us and invites us into a transforming relationship through which we are forgiven, receive new life, and are restored to the image of God, which is love. – Knight and Powe
 
“Evangelism is being, doing, and telling the gospel of the kingdom of God, in order that by the power of the Holy Spirit persons and structures may be converted to the lordship of Jesus Christ.” – Delos Miles
 
“Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.” – Pope Francis
 
“Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread.”-D.T. Niles
 
“Evangelism is bringing people to Christ and bringing Christ to people” – attributed to many
 
“Evangelism is the linking of human life to the story of Jesus Christ.” – Emilio Castro
 
Evangelism is following in the footsteps of Christ, carrying out his work to the world as commanded in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)  The English word evangelism is not so much a translation as a modified transliteration of the Greek word euangelion, which is composed of two parts: the preposition eu, meaning “good” (as in euphoria or euphemism); and the root angelos, meaning “angel” or “messenger.” The content of evangelism is the gospel, the euangelion, the good news. The one who brings good news, the messenger, is an evangelist, a euangelistēs. Jesus brought a message of good news, the euangelion. The first mention of Jesus’s message, depicted in the earliest Gospel, precisely uses this word: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news [euangelion] of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news’” (Mark 1:14–15). The word euangelion occurs twice in this encapsulation of Jesus’s vocation: Jesus proclaimed the good news of God (to euangelion tou theou) and told people to “repent, and believe in the good news” (metanoeite kai pisteuete en tō evangelic̄).
 
As a church we must reclaim our evangelistic work.  If we do not offer the good news to this world, how will the next generation come to know the life transforming power of Jesus Christ?  If we don’t offer Christ, who will?  If we don’t tell the story, how will it be told?
 
Each Wednesday leading up to the Evangelism Summit on February 19th, The Smith Center will release ‘Resources for Practical Evangelism’.  Our hope is to resource local congregations with basic practices of how to offer Christ to this world.  How to move past the stigma of the word evangelism and to move you into following Christ example in this vital work as a church and an individual.  
 
****
If you are looking for a good practical resource to share with your Evangelism Outreach Team, the Lewis Center has interviewed Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, author of the new book Models of Evangelism.  This video and the book show pastors and congregations how they can more authentically engage a variety of evangelistic practices with confident and integrity.  You can view the video at this link: https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/doing-evangelism-with-integrity/?fbclid=IwAR1wk4rSUfJdB-I8qEqhf_ywJGUM7d1UsWgmdbtX3CAAXjR4Ummai7XgjGE
 

Priscilla Pope-Levison is a  Research Professor of Practical Theology at Perkins School of Theology.  Her area of specialty is the  Theory and Practice of Evangelism
 
MAGNIFY CHRIST – Evangelism Summit 2022 REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN
   Notes:
Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith; Knight and Powe; Discipleship Resources
Pope-Levison, Priscilla. Models of Evangelism (p. 5). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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