I was in Miami for a week on vacation. On the last day, my family and I were getting ready to leave. My mom informed me that someone was coming to repair her dishwasher. The repair man showed up at the scheduled time and he knew an awful lot about me. He knew that I had come in town to visit, and that I had two small children (scary, I know). He also knew my brother was slated to come in town next week on Spring Break from Louisiana. How did he know all of this about me? Of course he found these things out because my mom told him. He had previously come to inspect her dishwasher, and during his visit my mom began to tell him all of the things that excited her! How did she know he didn’t have children of his own that he wanted to discuss or that he even cared to hear her good news? She didn’t know how he would respond. That’s when it hit me. Evangelism is designed to work the same way that my mom shared her good news with the dishwasher repair guy. Let me share a few of the takeaways I learned from this occasion.
We share what we are excited about
So many times when evangelism is discussed we talk about methods and tools, but not enough about excitement. Jesus told His disciples to preach the gospel (good news) to everyone, and that is what they did (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 8:4). This was more than just a burden placed on these men’s hearts, they were generally excited and glad to do it. No one made my mom share the upcoming events with this stranger, she was simply excited and it bubbled forth (cf. Mt. 12:34). She was excited about the arrival of her kids and grandkids, and that is what she talked about. What is in our hearts comes out of our mouths (Pr. 4:23). We don’t need more discussion about the types of fishing poles (evangelistic methods) to be used as we fish for the souls of men, we need a greater love for fishing. If we are honest, we would have to say that we are simply more excited about politics, march madness, and the latest iPhone than we are about the gospel. That’s why we discuss these things with ease.
We may not want things to be this way but that is the way they are. We can fix this though. We need to dig back into the New Testament and rekindle our love for God and for what Jesus did for us. We need to spend more time with His Word and thinking about how much we love Him. Then, when we encounter people, we will not be able to help but speak of these things (Acts 4:20). If we are excited about the gospel, we won’t need a pep rally or a Christian camp to motivate us to share the good news about Jesus.
Possible rejection shouldn’t discourage us
As my mom shared this news with the repair guy, he could have told her that he was not interested. He could have said he has grandchildren of his own, and that he doesn’t want to hear about hers. While all of these are possibilities, my mom did not let these things stop her from sharing the news that she was excited about.
Too many times we rationalize through evangelism with thoughts like “maybe they go to church somewhere else and don’t want to hear the truth,” or “he doesn’t seem interested in religion” or maybe, “I tried evangelism once and failed, I’m not doing that again.” We know we don’t use these excuses when talking about a favorite book or TV show with someone in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, but when it comes to evangelism it seems acceptable. Rejection is a possibility, but we can’t let that stop us from attempting to save some (Mt. 10:14; 1 Cor. 9:22).
People remember what we emphasize
I wasn’t there when my mom spoke with the repair guy. However, I doubt she mentioned the events of my coming in passing with her library voice to fulfill an obligation. I’m sure she seemed excited. She made it seem like it was important, and that he should care about these things too. When this man saw me he remembered the things she had emphasized to him.
When we share the gospel and put emphasis on its importance not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those with whom we are speaking, they may not agree with us but they won’t forget it. I am not talking about being weird and running people off, but I am talking about sharing the gospel with people and letting them know that they are missing out if they choose to ignore this message (Jn. 8:24).
Evangelism is easier than we make it
I have preached on evangelism many times and have made things more complicated than I needed to. Evangelism really is not confusing and does not take special training in Greek and Hebrew to be successful. So many times we are thinking that if we get the right book, or the right sermon CD, or if I get the right preacher to talk to this person, they will obey. The truth is, evangelism doesn’t work this way. Evangelism is telling the truth about Jesus to others with love in our hearts for men and the message. When you look at the evangelistic examples in the Bible, you do not find highly complicated formulas, or weeks of curriculum to decipher through.
The New Testament shows men inviting others to come and see what they saw, telling what Jesus had done to them in accordance with the scriptures, and encouraging others to do the same (Jn. 1 :45-46; Acts 22:1-16; 26:2-23). If we can invite people to come to know the Jesus of scripture, tell people what Jesus has done to and for us in accordance with the scriptures, then then can evangelize (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
A repair man taught me a few lessons about evangelism that I really needed to learn. People will talk about what excites them, we need to be excited about the gospel (Phil. 4:4), if put emphasis on the gospel people won’t forget it, and evangelism is not as hard as it seems. I’m reminded of what Jesus told a man that he healed on one occasion: “And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you’” (Mk. 5:19).