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shutterstock_90779018How can I get better at evangelism? As a pastor I love this question. It comes from a heart that understands the priority of the great commission while also feeling the conviction for unfaithfulness to it. When I think through evangelism and the privileged responsibility to boast in Christ, there are two primary areas that I have had success focusing on: savoring Christ and slaying self.

Savor Christ

We talk about what we love. Whatever has our heart also has our mouths. You might say, “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”. Therefore, if we want to change the content of what we are saying we must fill our heart with something different. In other words, if we want to boast in Christ then we must find ourselves increasingly impressed with Christ!

Do you remember when you were a new Christian? Did anyone honestly have to tell you to tell others about Jesus? Of course not. It was a natural as breathing. Nobody could keep you quiet. Why is this? It is because your heart was filled with the joy of the new birth. The burden of sin was so freshly removed, the cross was so vividly in view, and the promises of God so freshly adorned your formerly hopeless mind. Evangelism was a reflex.

So what do you do? You need to revisit the worth and work of Jesus Christ. John Owen had it right: “On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world.”

Consider anew the matchless beauty, love, holiness, and compassion of your Savior. See him again touch the leper and heal him, while remembering how he has cleansed you from your sin. Think often of the blind man and how Jesus gave sight, then remember how he has given you spiritual eyes to behold him in love instead of hatred. Revisit the raging sea of Galilee and watch him calm it with a word, then remember how he has calmed the raging and relentless waves of your conscience with the word of his grace. Behold him feeding the multitude out of simple elements and remember that he daily sustains you with his wonderful words of grace. Behold him again on the cross praying for and inviting sinners who are fast bound in sin, and remember that he has graciously called you to do the same. Dear Christian brothers and sisters: savor Christ by beholding his worth and work.

Slay Self

As Christians we have a taste of heaven with the abiding presence of sin. We love the king but we also love ourselves. So, what do we do? We are to put self to death. This is not in the physical sense of course but in the spiritual sense. We are to slay (kill, crucify, put to death, or the old word: mortify) sin.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

The Apostle Paul, himself a faithful evangelist who struggled with boldness (cf. Eph.6.19), made the powerful distinction: either you are a slave of Christ or of man—you can’t be both.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

So often we cling to excuses of evangelism that sound good: we don’t know what to say, we are afraid that someone is going to be hostile towards us, or we don’t know how to answer questions. However, the issue for so many of us is not education or protection but rather selfishness. We love ourselves. We worship ourselves. We would hate to have anyone look at us crookedly, make sport of us, or perhaps suffer the consequences of living faithfully for Jesus in this world.

We must remember that the issue of fear of man, selfishness, or self-worship, is not strictly an evangelism problem. This is the same issue for all of our Christian lives. We disobey God’s word in other areas because we fear man rather than God (cf. Rom. 3.18 for the summary of what sin is). So, we need to get this worked out whether we are talking about evangelism or being a better husband, student, or friend. We need to get to work on slaying self.

Conclusion

The good news here is that savoring Christ leads to slaying self. When we behold the beauty, greatness, and unrivaled glory of Christ we want to put everything else in our lives, that does not conform to this, to death. This is what we see in Colossians 3. In light of the first 2 chapters painting the picture of the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus we are told to savor him then slay sin:

Savor Christ: ”If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)

Slay Sin: ”Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:5-9; See also Hebrews 12:1-2).

If you or your church are looking for evangelism training you may find this curriculum helpful: Gospel-Shaped Outreach

Image Credit: Shutterstock.


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5 thoughts on “How Can I Get Better at Evangelism?”

  1. Chuckt says:

    How do you get better at evangelism?

    Just do it. Giving people the truth of the gospel. There are so many people who won’t give people the gospel and they find reasons. Will “I didn’t wan’t want to give someone the gospel?” work on judgment day? Or will “I didn’t want to ruin my witness by giving them the gospel?”

    We’re not responsible for results. The miracle of evangelism is God’s job.

    Being afraid of not knowing the answer is really not our job. The reason is that people say, “no” to God and no amount of apologetics can make someone say, “yes”.

    Our internal screen saver is what hurts us. What do we do when we aren’t doing anything? I know. We watch television. We waste time.

  2. Chuckt says:

    If you look at the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, the seed was planted and the yield was 1 out of 4. On top of that, there were studies out of the 80’s that the average person needed to hear the gospel many times before they would understand the gospel and part of that problem is that there are verses used by people who are unclear about the Gospel. Failing shouldn’t get us discouraged because it will happen to you just like it would happen to me. If someone is going to say, “no” then it doesn’t always matter if there is someone teaching or preaching better than me because the answer was “no”. The answer was based on the soils or the bad environment. I should base my evangelism on the idea that I can get a response out of 100 people and that I’m going to fail but there should be the same response out of the next 100 people. If I don’t see the response then it is possible that my plant will respond by someone else who waters or God who will give the increase. I was preached to at as a young boy but the result wasn’t seen for years later.

    It doesn’t matter if I have the best apologetics because people have their minds made up and those who are based on good ground (Matthew 13:23) or good understanding but those that do truth (John 3:21) come to the light but those who agape (love) evil John 3:19-20 don’t. So failure isn’t based so much upon me or you. There are those who don’t waste their time on the unwilling but they try to get to the willing because they understand that failure isn’t about them. The failure is based upon people who don’t want the truth and the reason why people don’t want to go to church is because they don’t want to hear someone telling them the truth.

  3. Chuckt says:

    About 40 years ago, my mom made me go to church. My sister didn’t like Church so she said bad things about Church, the Bible and told me, “not to let them get me” so I went along with my sister’s suggestion as a child not knowing any better and how much better my life might have been if I had not listened to her and I could have been a wiser and older Christian had I known better. There was nothing they could have said to me back then because I didn’t want it and they didn’t know that there was sibling pressure but that is what we find in the soils which are the cares of this life.

  4. Robert says:

    Thanks for the article. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t ring true to my experience. Like many Christians in the UK, I was brought up by Christian parents and going to church, but treated my Christian faith as something “private”. As a result, when I gave my life to Christ at age 15 (and I know it was a genuine conversion), I still kept my Christian faith secret from non-Christians. My friends at school didn’t know I was a Christian, although the fruits of my conversion included being forgiving, being patient and controlling my anger, and I stopped doing school work on Sundays so as to be more committed to my church. It was at university that I started to learn the importance of evangelism and began to be bolder in speaking about my faith. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t come naturally. And I don’t think I’m wrong to say I’m quite unusual – most Christians I know continue to keep their Christian lives and public lives separate. I think we fear being seen as fanatics. Perhaps it’s because we love a life of comfort and ease more than Christ. I think all my Christian friends appreciate the Christ-centred preaching at our church, but Monday-Saturday I don’t think we do very well really at savoring Christ as you suggest, except perhaps in our *private* devotions. I’m not sure what to do about this problem – but perhaps somebody can point in the direction of some answers?

    One other note – I’m not sure about Owen’s quote. Surely the painted beauties of the world are good to admire when we remember the God who made them? They should encourage us to rejoice in Jesus more, not provide a distraction from him. If I regarded the created world as a distraction from Christ, I would have to immediately quit my “secular” job in order to focus fully on Christian ministry – I don’t know how else I could avoid being “distracted” by things of the world. (Of course, actually a lot of Christian ministry involves the same distractions – raising money, planning meetings, building projects – it would be futile to try to escape the painted beauties of the world!)

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Erik Raymond


Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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