I am a big advocate of evangelism as a lifestyle.
When I read the book the Acts, I see how evangelism played out in the life of the apostles and early believers. They spent time with people. They shared their faith, and the “Lord added daily” to their numbers.
How can a believer experience a lifestyle where evangelism occurs in the ordinary routine of life?
Doug Cecil has expounded on this question in The 7 Principles of an Evangelistic Life, without falling into the trap of teaching “witnessing without words.”
The principles Cecil maps out could help the ordinary believer find ways to incorporate evangelism during the ordinary course of life.
This is a practical and accessible book, not overly academic or dry. As he goes through the book, Cecil is good at including appropriate stories and biblical references. The stories come from his own life.
The foundation of personal evangelism
Cecil starts recognizing that evangelism starts out of your own relationship with Jesus. (Principle 1). Without nurturing your own relationship with Christ, you’ll lack any passion or motivation to share.
While he recognizes that there are different styles of evangelism, he confronts the copout “that’s not my style” and shows how each of us are called to share our faith, no matter what our preferred tendency is. The section on the dynamics between the closeness of our relationship with people and what strategy we should adopt is very eye opening. We should not ever have a reason to say “That’s not my style.”
Definition of Evangelism
Like many writers, he starts with defining evangelism. Cecil clearly defines evangelism as the particular conversation where the gospel is shared. For Cecil, evangelism is an event in the process of disciplemaking.
Evangelism is an event and not a process. We are to do the work of an evangelist. The definition of evangelism has two main parts: information and invitation. One part without the other is out of balance. One should not think of presenting an invitation without any information. And likewise, providing only the information without an invitation to trust Christ will leave the listener frustrated and still unsaved. After a person trusts Christ, instruction in the spiritual life starts the person down the road toward spiritual maturity
On the one hand, I agree with his definition of evangelism. A strict biblical interpretation of meaning of evangelism would be the actual proclamation of the gospel.
On the other hand, I would see all the appropriate activity and conversations leading up to that particular moment as part of the evangelistic process as people walk through stages of their journey to Christ. He would call that “witnessing.” It’s a slight difference of nuance.
The Seven Principles of an Evangelistic life
1. Keep Your Priorities Straight
There is a great commandment before there is a great commission. You may have the slickest method, the slickest presentation, and be the most silver-tongued person around; but if your relationship with Jesus Christ is out of focus, evangelism is out of balance. (Location 276).
2. Evangelism is an Event in the Process of Disciplemaking
The people in the relational-strategy camp talk a lot about the cultivation and talk little about the harvest. The writers in the aggressive-strategy camp talk a lot about the harvest, but talk little about the cultivation. Normally a person has to choose between one of the two strategies. It seems to me that both are correct, if properly employed. We ought to target some sort of middle ground where we see the two united with such terms as cultivation, sowing, and harvesting. There is a proper time for cultivation, a proper time for sowing, and a proper time for harvesting (Location 496).
3. Make the gospel clear.
There are two main parts: (1) Christ died for our sins, and (2) He arose from the dead. Notice now that Paul supplies biblical evidence and also empirical evidence for each statement. The statement “Christ died for our sins” is followed by the biblical evidence, “according to the Scriptures.” And following the biblical evidence, Paul supplies the empirical evidence, “He was buried.” “He [also] was raised on the third day.” Again, Paul supplies both biblical evidence, “according to the Scriptures,” and empirical evidence, “He appeared.”
With both biblical and empirical evidence, Paul declares the Good News. The Gospel, the Good News, is: Christ died for my sins and arose from the dead. (Location 1005)
4. Evangelism is more spiritual than methodological.
The question in evangelism is not how you can get better equipped or find the newest and latest method of sharing the Good News. The main question in evangelism is, What’s holding you back? If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ, because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life, sharing Jesus Christ is a passion. This brings about the fourth principle of evangelism: Evangelism is more spiritual than it is methodological (Location 1297)
5. Being a good witness means passionately pursuing the lost in love.
Being a good witness is being salt and light in a tasteless and dark world by living by grace and truth. Being a witness is more involved in cultivating relationships and sowing seeds in the process of disciple making. But being a witness is anything but being passive in life and not being involved with people. Being a witness is passionately pursuing the lost in love and being intimately involved with people. You are a witness for Jesus Christ because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in your life. You are to do the work of an evangelist. You can be either a good witness for Jesus Christ or a poor witness for Jesus Christ, but one way or another you are a witness! (Location 1514)
6. Evangelism moves forward as God’s people get involved in ministry and service.
We were not created to be alone. We need each other. How can we harness the power that is found in the body of Christ to corporately reach out to a lost world around us? What are some of the things that we can do to reach out to the community? (Location 1963)
Here is another basic principle of evangelism. Evangelism moves forward as God’s people get involved in ministry and service. If I am able to get my people involved in service, and they give themselves away in ministry, evangelism will take care of itself. (Locations 2038)
7. Disciple, nurture, and assimilate new believers into the church.
Follow-up is the process of establishing a believer in the faith. Notice two things about this definition. First, follow-up is a process and not just an event. We never arrive in follow-up. Secondly, the person being followed up may or may not be a new believer. There are a lot of people sitting in our pews who have never effectively been followed up. (Location 2723).
Each chapter has relevant story of the principles involved, plus there are additional chapters that tease out
Quotes I liked:
- How we live serves as a foundation for evangelism, not as a substitute.
- The greatest obstacle to [evangelism] is the church that is preoccupied with its own existence.
- Being a witness is passionately pursuing the lost in love and being intimately involved with people.
- Doing evangelism centers on proclaiming that Christ died for our sins and arose from the dead.
- I believe that the Father’s heart is expressed in three ways: a concern for the world, a compassion for the lost, and a passion for reconciliation.
- If you just feel compassion without showing mercy, then you really have not experienced biblical compassion.
- Until the Gospel is actually presented, evangelism has not truly occurred. It is good to keep in mind that all relational strategies must become aggressive at some point; otherwise, that person is still lost.
- You start by being a good witness for Jesus Christ. But what exactly is a good witness for Jesus Christ? Being a good witness is being salt and light in a tasteless and dark world by living by grace and truth.
- An evangelistic personal testimony is a clear statement of your conversion with a Gospel presentation woven in
Doug Cecil has done a tremendous service to the body of Christ in his newest book on evangelism. His work is a must read for every Christian who wants to be used by God to expand the family of believers. – Keith Ferguson
Order your copy
Order your copy of The 7 Principles of an Evangelistic Life from Amazon. I will receive a small commission. Doug Cecil is the author.
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