What is the strongest ministry in your church? Would evangelism make the top 5? The top 10? Would it come to mind at all? Why don’t more Christians evangelize? Do we lack “the gift” of evangelism in the church of Jesus Christ today? What is evangelism supposed to look like? Do I invest my time building relationships or do I go door-to-door on Thursday evenings?
May I suggest to you a fairly short read (about 40 pages)? It is Evangelism in the New Testament by Jon Speed. Pastor Speed has an interesting account of how he came to be “soundly saved” after being a pastor for 12 years! You may explore more of his story and ministry at The Lost Cause ministry website. At the site are Audio, Video and Reading articles – free for your use and study.
I have not read a more balanced study of evangelism as the New Testament protrays it, then in this booklet. Far from condemning and attempting to saddle readers with guilt, Speed patiently instructs the reader in how God’s Word describes and prescribes evangelism. He begins with a definition of “contact evangelism” – basically speaking the Gospel to strangers, and continues with Scripture supported dialogue of how evangelism was “done” in the Gospels, Christ’s life & ministry, the book of Acts and in the early church.
Speed deals with such statements as “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and we must “earn the right” to speak the Gospel into relationships. (These statements are often embraced by those who would espouse “friendship evangelism” or “lifestyle evangelism”). The author gracefully points the reader to Jesus’ command to go into all the world and share the gospel with everyone. He invites reader interaction to study the way he uses Scripture to support his views and communicate to him where he might be exegeting passages incorrectly – a gracious invitation, rarely seen in authors on any topic.
Here is a quote that particularly caused my heart to burn:
“…are [we] allowing our fear of the repurcussions of contact evangelism to dictate our methodology? Is it because of our fear for our own comfort, our own safety? Have these fears ever been endorsed as valid reasons to refrain from preaching the gospel, biblically speaking? Of course not. If fears paralyze us, in any kind of evangelism, it is because we do not have adequate love for the Lord or for the lost (1 John 4:7-21)…”
Jon Speed speaks to pastors and church leadership and the need for their encouragement of biblical evangelism. He speaks to the need for the local church to be supervising evangelistic outreach and training of it’s members to equip them to evangelize more effectively. He suggests this while keeping a very balanced approach in the area of the sovereignty of God. His approach leaves you firmly understanding that the reader need not “panic” at lost opportunities, nor sit back and idly disobey the command to evangelize as if God would do all the work Himself. I really appreciate this approach.
I consider Evangelism in the New Testament a must read for every believer. It ought to be referenced from time to time by those in church leadership to keep perspective clear and motives pure. Please pick up a copy of this booklet today over at One Million Tracts – it’ll be the best $3.50 you’ve spent in a long time.