Evangelism Vision: a Lifetime Change
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary Evangelism Vision: A Lifetime Change A Paper Submitted to Dr. Harold D. Bryant In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Course Contemporary Evangelism EVAN 565 By Michael McKelvey 19 August 2011 What is the first thing that pops into your head when you think of evangelism? That’s scary! Am I going to be rejected? It’s not my spiritual gift! This paper explains the Great Commission and its relationship to evangelism on the vision and challenge of what God is doing in my life in the area of evangelism.
It also looks at how I think of evangelism, gives explanation of evangelism and challenges my rethinking on how evangelism could be done in a way to help me begin to share my faith in new and natural way. The Christian interpretation of the Great Commission to share God’s Word through evangelism is defined outside the walls of the church and best understood by first discussing the nature of evangelism in Christianity. The writing of Dr. David Earley and Dr. David Wheeler, Dr. Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Richard Leach, William Fay, and the videos from Dr.
David Wheeler have helped my fears of evangelism. This semester I have learned and developed new perceptions and challenges about evangelism which has challenged my way of thinking. The way I think centers around three aspects of Christian witness: Physical Service, Spiritual Conversation, and Intellectual Conversation. The first aspect of evangelism can be characterized as physical includes things like: Social Justice, Acts of Service; feeding the hungry and clothing the poor—anything that embodies benevolence and/ or philanthropy.
It is the physical service that we provide for people who have needs anywhere at any time. For example Dr. Wheeler says that “Ministry evangelism and servant evangelism . . . intentionally seek to meet people’s needs in order to open the doors for the gospel message. ” This act of caring service will lead to a Spiritual conversation resulting in the Holy Spirit taking charge. The second aspect of evangelism deals with making spiritual conversation a priority. I think the gospel itself is expressed during this phase.
I regularly look at my day and wonder about the conversations I might have with people. I look at my list of friends that I’m praying for and see if I’m being led to go have the next conversation with them. I’m at a stage of life where I don’t have enough contacts; therefore I’ll work at making some. Furthermore, following the Holy Spirits’ lead by verbally proclaiming the gospel and inviting the listener to respond is what we can call proclamation or declaration—it is the verbal expression of the gospel message.
McRaney states that, “Ultimately, only God opens and prepares the heart to receive the gospel. It’s also the actual evangelism aspect. I list this second because it then leads into the third aspect. The third aspect of evangelism is intellectual conversation, where I must be able to possess and capable of utilizing Systematic Theology and Apologetic. Saying I use Systematic Theology or Apologetic technique is just a fancy way of organizing my thoughts on what I believe about God and why I am a Christian.
Apologetics is how you answer questions concerning the faith that you have and explaining your reasons for holding them. At this point, the use of Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear” book will come in handy. But I have learned that ultimately we have to rely on the Holy Spirit—remember our role: we are responsible for contact, while God is responsible for conversion. However, part of that contact doesn’t necessarily involve being prepared to use the intellectual aspect of our Christian witness, but mainly relies on one’s testimony. Dr.
Earley says, “Sharing your story makes evangelism personal and relational . . . because when people listen to you, instead of being a professional salesman, you are a satisfied customer. All three are important aspects of the Christian witness, but it is important to understand that, while demonstrating and explaining your faith contribute to the evangelistic process, only proclaiming the gospel is evangelism. As we know from Scripture, where there is not a vision, the people will perish. With this in mind, my personal vision as it relates to the integration of vangelism into every part of my life has become a great burden upon my heart. The vision that I hold not only for the coming days but more so as a way of life can be described utilizing the concentric circles of concern as outlined by Thompson. Describing the concentric circles Thompson states, “Many of us come to study evangelism to go from Circle one how to Circle seven to save our consciences because there are ruptured relationships encircles two through six that we prefer to skip over. ” With this in mind, starts my vision for integrating evangelism into every part of my life.
First is my relationship with Jesus Christ, second is my relationship to my wife and then to my children. Third, is to my brother and my sisters followed by my relatives and so on such as neighbors and associates, acquaintances, and person X. One of the most significant impact this class has had on my views on future ministry, evangelism, and multiplication, involvement in church planting as a teaching minister is my desire to answer the call of the Great Commission as I incorporate my teaching duties toward fulfilling the commandment.
The Great Commission of making disciples of all nations has been a burden and vision shared by me. A prime component of my conversion experience and of the Lord bringing me to repentance was embracing the responsibility to be a doer of the word and not a hearer (or talker or knower) only. As I began to take small steps to align my life and walk with God’s word, great changes occurred in my method of ministering to the lost. Leach and Wheeler noted that ignoring the opportunities for ministry or have done things for others without having a servant spirit is a sin.
So, how can I overcome this guilt of not aggressively sharing my faith? My hope is that by God’s grace, He will keep me sensitive to where He is at work. As I consider a church plant and having an “evangelism ministry” to my community I know my personal walk with the Lord Jesus is where it all begins. The kingdom of heaven begins first, in my own heart. My desire is to be consistent in prayer even when it feels like He doesn’t hear me. To read and study God’s word even when new and fresh insights are not coming.
To resist temptation when passions are strong and no one (except God) is watching. To serve others when I am weak, tired, or out of energy. This is where evangelism to my community begins sharing the fruit of a changed life. In order to answer the call to evangelize, one must first understand what the Great Commission is. In the book “Evangelism is . . . ” by Dave Early and David Wheeler, Earley explains the word commission as “a military term meaning an authoritative order, charge, or direction. ” I have learned servant evangelism by creating a hunger to share my faith with others.
Evangelism has gone from being a fear inducing concept to becoming the way I want to live in Christ: as walking testimony to Him and answering the call of the Great Commission with my words, my daily actions, my servicing others, and by disciplines others to answer the call to evangelize. Most Christians want to share the gospel, but never envision a future in ministry that involves evangelism multiplication or church planting as it relates to developing true disciples who passionately desire to multiply their witness.
In the near future I hope to develop a workshop that focuses on how to build relational bridges to those with whom you want to share the gospel. Reading Dr. Leach and Dr. Wheeler’s “Minister To Others” enlighten me to the fact that, “No matter what your role is in ministering to someone-whether building a bridge, praying, meeting a need, relieving a burden, encouraging, or sharing the gospel-God is inviting the person into His kingdom through you. ” To live a lifestyle of evangelism I must live “Incarnational” by reflecting my faith in the truths of the Bible through my attitudes and actions.
According to Dr. Wheeler, “Incarnational” Apologetics is the representative public and private life style of a Christian that validates to the world the absolute truths of the Bible. Living an “Incarnational” life style is a problem with today’s church members who are reluctant to share their faith. This is another area where I admit to being guilty due my many church activities. Learning how to share Jesus without fear is accomplished by learning to be effective communicators in all that we say. For example, in “the Art of Personal Evangelism” William McRaney Jr. eminds us that, “our goal is to be effective communicators and clarifiers because people matter to God” William Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear” is one of the most impacting books I have ever read. Fay says that there are two types of people “Those who talk about the lost and those who talk to the lost. ” Because of this course, I have learned how to spend time with family and understanding its importance has increased greatly because of this course. Dr. Pipes noted that, “88 percent of the children who grow up in our churches leave the church and never return.
In other words, discipleship must begin within the home with parents spending time with and instilling Christian values in their children. Learning the importance of family in evangelism firmly believes that relationships and community are the essential qualities of the Christian life. More importantly, they are the characteristics of the will of God in our lives as Christians. As McRaney states in his book The Art of Personal Evangelism, “God’s call for restoration is not a call to live out the Christian faith in isolation. God desires to restore community and family among the redeemed. We have been made in the image of God and that includes the desire for relationships. As the Triune God, He is perfectly relational within himself yet He afforded us the ability to become part of that relationship through His son, Jesus Christ. Recognizing and developing a successful evangelism ministry to my community first starts with a healthy family life. God, in his divine wisdom, has prearranged the perfect boot camp for future evangelists. It is called your family. I need abundant life in my home before I can offer abundant life to the community.
You see, I have a daughter who is 28 and has not accepted Christ. As the aforementioned composite statement of the great commission by Pipes and Lee says, it “begins in our own home. ” However, my endeavor is not only to realize this vision in my home, but also help the other households in our church to rise to the call. By multiplying Godly households that are full of life can and will change our communities. This class has been without a doubt the single most impacting class I have ever taken. One of the biggest changes thus far has been in the way I pray. Successful evangelism greatly depends on daily prayer.
In addition, I have learned to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make me sensitive to opportunities to share the Good News. It requires me to live out the charge of the great Commission through servant evangelism, information apologetics, and incarnation apologetics. I have started carrying a pocket-sized New Testament with William Fay’s “Share Jesus Without Fear” model written in it everywhere I go. Now that I realize I can’t fail whenever I share my faith. I’m ready to take the step of obedience. By acknowledging the power of the Holy Spirit the individual has the confidence to witness.
Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27 NASB). Right after he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke a powerful message to the Jews. His empowerment by the Holy Spirit resulted in 3,000 getting saved in one day (cf. Acts 2:14-41). Later Peter filled with the Holy Spirit testified boldly to the rulers, elders and scribes of the Jewish nation (cf. Acts 4:5-12, 18-22).
After Peter and John were threatened they prayed. These verses prove that Holy Spirit definitely equips us with power to witness. We will go as Christ went, teaching of repentance and forgiveness, baptizing those who trust in Christ by the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and making disciples by teaching them to obey all that He commands. ” Ministering to the non-believer through the power of the Holy Spirit prepares the hearts of unbelievers for the gospel. E. W. Kenyon states that “It is necessary that we understand how the Holy Spirit deals with an unsaved man, so that we can let Him work freely through us. The Holy Spirit today is making real to human hearts the work of the Son of God. The Spirit’s teachings and communications are not his own; they are Christ’s. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to reveal to men what Jesus brought about by His death and resurrection. To show every man that Jesus became sin on man’s behalf so that they may become righteous. He also shows every man the tragedy of rejecting Christ’s substitution sacrifice. He further describes the Holy Spirit’s work in the following manner, “The Holy Spirit comes to impart the nature of God to the spirit of man in the new birth (John 3:3-8) and then fill the new creature (II Co. :17) with the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19). ” As a result of studying evangelism this semester, I have learned the importance of following-up with newly saved believers. Jesus did say, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptize them and teach them all that I have told you” (cf. Mat. 28:19-20). He did not say “Have them say a salvation prayer and they will be just fine. ” Many in the evangelistic world are concerned about the “Back Door Syndrome. ” This involves people coming to church and getting saved, but then they leave out the back door without any further or very little church involvement.
Others are rightly concerned about people saying the prayer, but these people do not follow through with their commitment. Some church leaders have found ways to resolve this issue. But these solutions require the body to have vision and they normally involve establishing relationships which require considerable commitments of time. Mentoring, new believers groups, home meetings, life groups and special interest groups are some the methods that have been successfully implemented. New believers need to belong to a church where they will be encouraged in their new life with Christ.
While at church the Holy Spirit assists in their maturing process by ministering to them through the five-fold ministry. It is through fully understanding the totality of the above (relationships, community, and evangelism), that my heart became burdened. I recall the questions asked by Dr. Adrian Rogers in one of his sermons on evangelism, “Are you loving people straight to hell? ” It was at this time that I realized my personal failure in sharing the Good News. Nonetheless, there was still a great deal of fear within me when it came to the issue of personal evangelism.
However, that fear was starting to change as I was introduced to the principle of servant evangelism. Oddly enough, I had been practicing the servant action but without the evangelism. Now it is time to combine the two for effective and practical servant evangelism. In conclusion, the Christian interpretation of the Great Commission to share God’s Word through evangelism is defined outside the walls of the church and best understood by first discussing the nature of evangelism in Christianity.
Building strong relational bridges based on trust and mutual respect will allow you to lovingly speak God’s truth into a person’s life without damaging the friendship. Relational evangelism begins by seeing people as Jesus does, spending time with them, having Christ-like attitudes, and learning to communicate so people understand. In the context of authentic Christian community everyday Christians experience the power of the Holy Spirit and bear fruit for the kingdom. As Dr. Adrian Rogers has said many times, “I am a nobody, telling everybody, of somebody that can save them. I believe that Saint Francis of Assisi put it best, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words. ” Bibliography Earley, Dave and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is… How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2010. Fay, William. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville, TN: B&H, 1999. www. derrick-martin. com. A Personal Look at Evangelism. Kenyon, Edward. The Bible in Light of Our Redemption-Basic Bible Course Lynnwood, Washington: 1999. McRaney, William. The Art of Personal Evangelism. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2003. Pipes, Jerry and Victor Lee.
Family to Family, Families Making a Difference. Lawrenceville, GA: Jerry Pipes, 1999. Thompson, W. Oscar, and Carolyn Thompson Ritzmann. Concentric Circles of Concern: Seven Stages for Making Disciples. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999. Wheeler, David and Richard Leach. Growing Disciples Series: Minister to Others. Nashville, TN: Lifeway, 2009. Wheeler, Dr. David. Incarnational Apologetics. Liberty University, (Accessed May 10, 2011). ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Dave Earley and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is…: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2010), 300. 2 ]. Will McRaney Jr. , The Art of Personal Evangelism (Nashville, TN: B&H Group, 2003), 215. [ 3 ]. bid,. 248. [ 4 ]. Oscar Thompson, “Concentric Circles of Concern” (Nashville, TN: B & H 1999), 20. [ 5 ]. Richard Leach and David A. Wheeler, Growing Disciples Series: Minister to Others (Nashville, TN: Lifeway, 2009), 57. [ 6 ]. bid. , 75. [ 7 ]. Earley and Wheeler, Evangelism Is… How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence, 21. [ 8 ]. Leach and Wheeler, Minister to Others,73. [ 9 ]. Dr. David Wheeler, “Incarnational Apologetics” Liberty University (Accessed July 26, 2011), 1. 10 ]. McRaney Jr. , The Art of Personal Evangelism, 70. [ 11 ]. William Fay, Share Jesus Without Fear (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1999), 8. [ 12 ]. Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee. Family to Family, Families Making a Difference. (Lawrenceville, GA: 1999), 1. [ 13 ]. McRaney Jr. , The Art of Personal Evangelism 17. [ 14 ]. Pipes and Lee, Family to Family, 32. [ 15 ]. bid. [ 16 ]. Edward Kenyon, The Bible in Light of Our Redemption-Basic Bible Course (Lynnwood, Washington: 1999), 265. [ 17 ]. bid. [ 18 ]. bid. , 254. [ 19 ]. www. derrick-martin. com