By Phil Pillans
A fair amount of time at church is spent on preaching and teaching about the Great Commission. In other words, Christ calls us to make disciples of all nations and to baptise them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Does this scare you? Guess what – this is perfectly normal.
The first thing that you should know is that Christ can use anybody – whether you are a so-called people’s person, or shy. The first requirement of the Great Commission is faith. You can nurture your faith through prayer, reading the Word, and connecting with other believers.
So what’s next? Here are a few pointers.
1. It’s not about you. Always show respect for the other person’s beliefs and private life – we cannot change them, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:15-16).
2. Pray in the Spirit. Pray quietly in tongues and listen to them and the Holy Spirit while the other person is speaking. You are changing the spiritual realm around you and may receive a word of wisdom or knowledge for them. Tongues is also a weapon of spiritual warfare (2 Cor 4:4, Eph 6:18 & 2 Cor 10:3-5).
3. Spread the Good News. It is especially important to tell potential believers that God loves them and they were put on this earth for a purpose (John 3:16).
4. You can’t be a person’s conscience. Don’t try and be the Holy Spirit and convict people of their sin. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job (Romans 2:4). It’s the goodness, patience and kindness of God that leads to repentance because love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8) for we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
5. Be a friend in Christ. If a person on the street responds and you lead them to the Lord, try to walk them down to the church so they know where it is, and if available offer them coffee/ tea/ biscuits and, most of all, friendship. Jesus didn’t say we should make converts, He said we make disciples, which happens when a person is integrated into the life of a church, sits under biblical teaching, builds relationships, and matures in the Lord (Matt 28:19).
God will always take the little faith we have and multiply it!
Over the course of this term, we’ve aimed to answer big questions about who Jesus is. Every week a new question was asked and the truth to that question discovered. What we hope to have done is teach our children more about how wonderful Jesus is and the need for them to keep seeking him and growing in knowing him. But there is more. Our focus this week is that because Jesus is so incredible, we cannot keep him for ourselves. We need to tell others about him too.
As a church, we have a proclamation that says: To know Christ and to make Him known. We discussed this with our children. We looked at what Jesus said at the Great Commission. We looked at the instructions he gave the disciples: to wait for the Holy Spirit to anoint them to reach the world and share the good news of what Jesus did for all. This Sunday we encouraged our children to desire to tell others about Jesus. To help explore this practice, we used candles and sweets (not together) to help emphasise the need to share this wonderful news.
Help your children think of ways to share the gospel. Children don’t fear offending people like we adults do. They would be happy to tell others about Jesus. Help them to meet people (be it family or friends), help them pray for the unsaved, help them with their testimony and how they can share it. Remind your children often of the Great Commission. And be the example as always. We long to see great evangelists birthed in our children.
– The Children’s Church team
Often in our Christian walk we buy into the idea that people need to believe first before they can belong. In fact, sometimes we have taught – subtly or openly – that people must not only believe but also behave before they belong. But this was not Jesus’ way in the scriptures.
What we’re trying to do with our Love Joburg Equipping course is shift the way you feel and what you perceive when you hear the word ‘evangelism’. This is the most used word to describe what we want to present as a lifestyle of sharing your life of faith with others. But does the word ‘evangelism’ make you cringe? Does it make you worry? Does it remind you of something you don’t like? What picture appears in your mind when you think of evangelism?
The first thing to do is cover what evangelism isn’t. Here is a brief list to make you think:
Evangelism is not a sales pitch.
Evangelism is not apologetics (clever arguments about God). Apologetics has its place, but it’s not how most of us are wired.
Evangelism is not trying to make people into ‘church people’.
Evangelism is not convincing people that your church is ‘cooler’ or ‘nicer’ or ‘not like “those” other churches’ etc.
Evangelism is not the phrase, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.” It is both words and action.
Evangelism is not filling churches. Full churches are a result of people coming to Christ, but full churches are not the goal per se. The goal is churches that are full of people who are going people.
Evangelism is not a cool event or a ‘crusade’. These might help, but they are not how we define evangelism.
Evangelism is not handing out tracts at street corners. There’s nothing wrong with handing out tracts, only that it isn’t how evangelism is defined.
Evangelism is not shouting out in the streets that people are going to hell. This might be necessary in some cases, but it’s not how we define evangelism.
Evangelism is not knocking on doors or going to hospitals. These could form part of it, but it’s not how we define evangelism.
Evangelism is not a notch for your spiritual belt – God is not measuring how many people you are evangelising to, and is not more pleased with you if you evangelise more than someone else. Sharing your faith does make God happy, but it does not make him more or less pleased with you.
By now you would have noticed a trend. Evangelism is how you live your life. You have faith in Jesus and you are simply sharing that faith with others because that faith defines your life.
However, sometimes the idea that evangelism is a lifestyle can be too vague, leading us to never know how to practically share our faith. Which is why we have courses like Love Joburg to help us. Sharing our faith is a culture that we develop in our churches and in our lives over time – and it’s our prayer that we will learn and grow into this more and more.
On 4 May, we re-launch our Love Joburg Equipping Course. It will be a 12-week (two term) course where we will learn how to live a lifestyle of evangelism.
We’ll be publishing a series of posts that are adapted from the new material that will be made available when the course begins. In this part, we want to highlight some of what we’re doing – trying to create a lifestyle of evangelism, rather than evangelism that is ‘event’ based.
A lifestyle of evangelism is simply living out our faith and sharing it with others. Evangelism is a fruit of our faith and our genuine love for God and others. You don’t need to hype yourself up for it. Evangelism is actually not an event, a programme, but a lifestyle. It’s not calendar-driven, it’s relationship driven.
Here are some interesting stats that support the point. In a U.S. survey of 15,000 people, the following statistics showed the primary influence in conversion:
1% were converted at ‘crusades’ (a large, tent-based outreach event)
1% were converted at a ‘visitation’ (door-to-door evangelism or something of that kind)
1% were converted due to some kind of crisis
3% were converted due to some kind of ‘cold church contact’ (a face-to-face discussion, a pamphlet )
3% were converted at some sort of event (outside of a ‘crusade’)
5% were converted in or through Sunday School
6% were converted due to having a relationship with a pastor or some-or-other ministry leader in the church
80% were converted through a friendship with a Christian.
Most people, in a similar survey in the UK, had a gradual conversion to Christianity (69%), while others were converted in a ‘crisis moment’ (a Biblical example of this would be Paul). This shows that people do need time to come to Christ – you don’t need to convince them in one conversation!
Interestingly, of the factors involved in conversion, almost 0% was due to a TV or radio programme.1 Why this is interesting is it shows that some of our evangelistic strategies that require the most financial investment might bring very little result. Ultimately, the best results come through your relationships.
Relational evangelism is far more effective than any other kind of evangelism. Your relationships.
People really are interested in the gospel, if they’re told the gospel and not something else. Which is why we really do need to know the gospel, and you really need to understand how key your friendships with others are in presenting the gospel. In our Love Joburg course, we want to cover this in more detail.