EvangelismEvangelism is a scary word for many Christians. Whether it’s because we fear rejection, feel unqualified, or are uncomfortable with making a truth claim in a pluralistic culture, we often shy away from evangelism, either by retreating to the realm of personal testimony or by avoiding spiritual conversations altogether.

Our pastor, Mike Lee, recently preached on evangelism by offering five questions that need to be answered by those who seek to be faithful in following the Great Commission. I’ve adapted these questions here and added a sixth. I commend them to you because they peel back the layers of our defensiveness toward evangelism and help us see what needs to be in place before we will be confident, joyful, and effective tellers of the good news.

Answer “no” to any of these questions and your evangelistic passion will suffer.

1. The Compassion Question: Do we care that people are dying without faith in Jesus Christ?

Before we can hope to be “good news tellers,” we have to be formed by the good news into compassionate and loving people. If we believe that people without Jesus truly are lost – both in this world and in the next – then compassion ought to be a motivator for our evangelism.

Takeaway: We share because we care.

2. The Culture Question: Do we understand why people reject the gospel? 

What are the most common objections people give for choosing not to believe in Jesus? What cultural trends make it difficult for people to believe, whether intellectually (existence of God, reality of miracles), morally (God’s purpose for sexuality), or experientially (inability to accept God’s forgiveness)?

It’s said that Francis Schaeffer was once asked how he would share the gospel with someone in an hour. He said he would spend 55 minutes listening and five minutes talking, because only then would he know how to share the gospel in a way that would overcome objections.

Takeaway: Good missionaries know their culture and listen to people.

3. The Content Question: Do we know what the good news is that we’re sharing?

I’ve been particularly burdened about helping people know the answer to this question. It’s why I wrote Counterfeit Gospels and Gospel-Centered Teaching. We won’t be effective tellers of good news unless we’re clear on what the good news is. Therapeutic and moralistic distortions of the gospel abound in a culture awash in “moralistic therapeutic deism.” How do we present the gospel in a way that is faithful to Scripture?

Takeaway: Evangelists must know the evangel they are proclaiming.

4. The Confidence Question: Do we believe that God really saves sinners?

The way to counteract your feelings of inadequacy in evangelism is not by growing in confidence in yourself or your persuasive abilities, but in growing in your confidence in the power of the gospel to save! People who doubt the reality of conversion are not likely to share the gospel. People who share their faith, trust that God can use their stumbling, imperfect gospel presentations. Those who see God change lives are most likely to get excited about evangelism. The power is in the gospel, not us.

Takeaway: Confidence in the power of the gospel is what motivates us to share it.

5. The Commitment Question: Do we believe God has given us the responsibility of evangelism?    

Do you believe God has given this responsibility to you? Do you believe that the proclamation of His Word is the way He saves people?

If, deep down, you’re an inclusivist who believes God may have other ways of saving people, then you’ll stay quiet about the gospel. If, deep down, you’re a Hyper-Calvinist who believes God will save people whether you share your faith or not, then you’ll stay quiet about the gospel. The question here concerns commitment: Do you believe you’ve been given this amazing privilege and weighty responsibility and that the Holy Spirit will use you to draw people to God?

Takeaway: We won’t share the gospel unless we understand the privilege and necessity of evangelism.

6. The Calling Question: Are you willing to ask someone to repent and believe, and then disciple them in the faith?

Sometimes we talk about Jesus but never arrive at the point of inviting someone to repent of their sins and put their faith in Christ. We spend time sowing seeds but are reticent to reap the harvest. Maybe it’s because we are afraid they will say no, but maybe it’s because we are afraid they will say yes! If someone receives Christ, we now have the responsibility to bring them into the church through baptism, and “teach them to obey everything Christ has commanded.”

Takeaway: We won’t call for conversion until we are committed to the people we are evangelizing.

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16 thoughts on “Answering “No” To One of These Questions Will Kill Your Evangelism”

  1. Brandon says:

    Thank you, Trevin. I believe these are important questions. I would make one suggestion. I believe the compassion question should actually be “Do we care people are living without faith in Jesus Christ.”

  2. Right on Trevin. I went through the TRUTH PROJECT. One statement that always rings in my ear is, “if you believe what you believe is really true, than how will you live.” If we claim to know Christ and that truth what are we doing about it.

  3. Ben Coleman says:

    I would add one more question to this list, that may actually need to be the first question. Do you know people who need to be evangelized? I’m convinced that a large portion of American-Christianity answers “yes” to these questions, only to be left with no one to go evangelize. Many don’t know how to be comfortable around or socialize with sinners, let alone be a “friend of sinners”. As a pastor, I often feel guilty filling my people’s schedule with so many church activities that it takes their few remaining flexible hours away from their mission field/neighborhood. Our people want to see others saved, but are waiting on a program from the pastor that gives them permission and a plan to do it. Somewhere along the way, we are going to have to reverse that trend and teach people how to simply be “friends of sinners” again.

  4. James says:

    I believe your ‘inclusion’ of the word ‘inclusivist’ in point #5 unfortunately posits ‘inclusion as the polar opposite of ‘hyper-Calvinism’. The truth is genuine ‘inclusion’ theology, rooted in the Christ-centered, perichoretic relationship of the Trinity, is not the same as universalism (your unfortunate implication). Universalism and hyper-C may cause one to not participate, but ‘inclusion’ motivates one to want to share the Jesus-centered gospel passionately and joyfully.

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  6. Indiana_Matt says:

    Feel free to correct my thinking, but couldn’t one possibly hold the view that #5 and #6 are mostly the responsibility of the church (which means some members and not all members of the body). The body is made up of diverse individuals with different talents, unique strengths/weaknesses and (in the case of the ordained leaders) responsibilities. I believe whole heartedly that every member is called to be a witness to the truth. We should all be ready to give reason for the hope we have. But the work of an evangelist in scripture, at least sometimes, seems to refer to a specific role for certain people. And I definitely think discipling is not something for every member, but for the mature. As your piece says, you would “bring them into the church.” Together we make up the institution called to these things. I think this lessens the pressure that potentially leads individuals to think they have to be everything to everyone.

    All said, thanks for the article. Several points to consider closely.

    1. Josh says:

      What does Eph 4 tells us the role of the Evangelist is? I think unfortunately your question betrays an idea of the role of the Evangelist as solely an ‘evangeliser’ rather than Equipper of Saints. If the Evangelist is called to Equip the saints for ministry then it is logical and consistent to assume their role is that of equipping saints to evangelise.

  7. Vladimir says:

    Thank you. The second question is very disputable though: the Scriptures say people reject the Gospel because things of God are foolishness to an unregenerate heart (1 Cor 2:14), and because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Everything else is just an excuse. Knowing the culture around you is of benefit, and a good example of that is Paul in Acts 17, but only for us to be able to share the good news in a culturally-relevant way, not to figure out ‘their problem’. Their problem is their conscious rebellion.

  8. Steve says:

    7) Are you captivated enough by the gospel such that you really believe it to be good news? If you have no joy in Christ and in his salvation you will not be effective ay communicating the wonder of the good news.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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