What is evangelism? What does it mean? What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it mean to be an evangelist?
I believe that if you ask those questions to a random group of people, you’d get as many answers as there are people in the room. Everyone has their own idea of what evangelism is and what it looks like.
But what does God think? What does He say it is supposed to look like? Does it have to be preachy? Is it supposed to be intrusive? Is that really what God wants from us?
Yesterday I spoke about the importance of caring about the salvation of others besides ourselves. It’s hard for me to convince myself that I love God if I sit by idly while His children are perishing for eternity. That’s not real love. If you really love me, then you’d care about my kids because you know that’s what I care about. Same goes with God. You can’t care about God without caring about God’s kids.
But for most of us, the problem isn’t that we don’t care about evangelism, but rather that we don’t know how to do it…or when to do it… or what to say… or how to say it… or who we should say it to and who we shouldn’t say it to. In short, we agree with the concept of evangelism, but it’s not an easy thing to do.
The word evangelism comes from the Greek word "evangelion" – which originally meant “a reward for good news given to the messenger” (reference). The word doesn’t mean preaching or baptizing people; it just means “sharing good news.” That’s it. Nothing complicated. It’s something we do all the time.
I remember when I was a kid hearing my mom and her friends talk on the phone about whatever great deal they found at the grocery store that day and what they heard was going to be on sale next week. THAT’S EVANGELISM! That’s sharing good news. They’d find a deal and then they’d call one another and say “did you hear the good news?”
(Keep in mind, this is way back in the Stone Age before there was email and cell phones. At the time there were pagers, but they were only used by drug dealers and doctors. SHOUT OUT TO THE 80s!).
The point is this. Evangelism isn’t preachy. It isn’t offensive. It is simply discovering something good and then sharing that good news with others.
Want to guess who was the first evangelist in the New Testament? Who was the first one to share the good news of Christ and His salvation? Not Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Not the Samaritan woman. Not even John the Baptist.
The first evangelist appears in Luke 2:10-11:
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
That’s all evangelism is. You don’t need an advanced degree for that. You don’t need years of training. You just need to be someone who has tasted of something good and then you’re able to point others in the right direction to find it too.
In Acts 1:8, the Lord Jesus tells His disciples exactly what He expects from them in the way of evangelism:
“You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Witnesses! Not salesmen – trying to persuade people to believe. Not scholars or philosophers – debating the unanswered questions of humanity. No advanced degree or special training is needed to be a witness. All you need is a willingness to open your mouth and say “This is what I have seen.”
So what is evangelism? Evangelism is SHARING THE GOOD NEWS and WITNESSING about what you have seen.
You don’t need to sell anything or persuade anyone. You are an evangelist if you can simply open your mouth and say “my life before Christ was ____; but now, with Him, it is ____.” That’s a witness!
As for me, I can tell you this: my life before Christ was meaningless; but now, with Him, it has eternally significant. My life before Christ was empty and in vain; but now, with Him, it is rich and full of glory. Before Christ I had no hope and just lived day to day; but now with Christ, I have a hope and peace which surpasses all logic and understanding. That is why I love Him. And that is why I worship Him.
That, my friends, is evangelism.
For discussion: what do you think about my definition of evangelism? Would you define it any differently?