Many evangelists feel the urgency to share their faith.
Urgency is what propels them to
- Find a conversational opening to start a faith sharing conversation
- Gather at 7pm to go witnessing or soul winning at the bus station.
- Go to the public square and proclaim Christ.
- Start conversations with strangers.
The urgency of evangelism propels me to:
- Train others in sharing their faith conversationally
- Pray for friends who don’t know Christ
- Live in such a way that shows I’m a Christ follower.
- Serve on the mission field in another culture that I’ve come to love.
But is there a place for time and persuasion?
Or to phrase it another way:
Is evangelism a process (over time), or an event (proclamation)?
The counterbalance to urgency is the persistent observation that people need time to hear and process the gospel.
The kingdom of God is like. . .
The parable of the sower is found in the first three gospels:
- Matthew 13:4-9, 18-23
- Mark 4:3-9, 14-20
- Luke 8:5-8, 11-15
In it, the evangelist can find great comfort as to the different reactions that will be encountered:
- Fell on the road
- Shallow /Rocky Ground
- Thorny Ground
- Good Soil
The contact evangelists will argue that their methods of public proclamation is scattering the seed as far as possible.
The relational / lifestyle evangelist will argue that they spend time preparing the soil to get a good harvest.
The word of God is compared to the seed, which needs time to germinate and grow.
Likewise, in Mark 4:26-29:
Then Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who plants seed in the ground. Night and day, whether the person is asleep or awake, the seed still grows, but the person does not know how it grows. By itself the earth produces grain. First the plant grows, then the head, and then all the grain in the head.When the grain is ready, the farmer cuts it, because this is the harvest time.”
The story suggests the passage of time.
Count the cost
Jesus tells this parable:
Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower. If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job. If you don’t, you might lay the foundation, but you would not be able to finish. Then all who would see it would make fun of you, saying, ‘This person began to build but was not able to finish.’ “If a king is going to fight another king, first he will sit down and plan. He will decide if he and his ten thousand soldiers can defeat the other king who has twenty thousand soldiers. If he can’t, then while the other king is still far away, he will send some people to speak to him and ask for peace.33 In the same way, you must give up everything you have to be my follower. – Luke 14: 27-32
There is a time process involved in counting the cost.
Do people need time?
People who don’t know the Lord may need time.
They don’t know what Jesus did for them and need to learn.
They don’t see the need for Jesus in their life.
They may not even believe that the Bible is a valid truth source.
They may not even believe in God.
They may not want to sign up for a lifetime commitment into God’s service, where they may only have weird examples of Christ followers in their mind.
They may have an understanding of Jesus that is incorrect and need further information.
They may have had bad experiences in the church, and therefore want nothing to do with church people.
They may need to see the rational side of the Christian faith – a place for apologetics and personal reflection.
Examples of time in Acts
Felix was in conversation with Paul for nearly two years, and never came to faith. Acts 23:35-Acts 24:1
Some Athenians wanted to hear more on the matter. When Paul was in Athens, he must have said something that brought them to the point of asking “May we hear you more about this matter?” (Acts 17:19)
Paul connected with local tentmakers Aquila and Priscilla, and spent 18 months in Corinth. At some point, the couple became believers. (Acts 18).
Paul would spend weeks at a time, reasoning in the synagogues and marketplaces.
The role of persuasion in Evangelism
Ultimately, this begins to hint at the role of persuasion in Evangelism.
Apologetics has a role to demonstrate that the Christian faith is rational.
Conversations give people the chance to
- Learn more about Jesus
- Answer their own questions
- Count the cost about following Jesus.
Part of the goal of preaching is persuasion: to participate the process of helping people see their need for Jesus.
Persuasion cannot happen in a vacuum or in an instantaneous moment.
It can only happen over the course of time.
Do you need help in Personal Evangelism?
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In this 70 minute MP3 AUDIO recording on personal evangelism you will learn:
- How church invitations are part of evangelism
- How to discover and share your own journey to faith
- What you can say about the gospel message.
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