I want to continue the evangelism definition discussion on with “Joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign love of God.”
For this part, we focus on the activity: Sharing.
As I travel and speak, I discover many different definitions of evangelistic sharing.
What comes first to my mind is conversation.
For others, what comes first is deeds.
Which comes first?
In most every occasion, our faith needs described as well as defended.
We share the content of our faith. Jesus died for sins, paid the price for sins, etc.
We explain how we are separated from God by sin and that Jesus was God’s provision for solving that.
We explain how God calls us to repentance, to faith in Christ, etc.
All of this is explained in the course of conversations, sermons, books, events, etc.
We share through a variety of means words, images, sermons, printed materials, etc. There is content to communicate. Many evangelism books and tracts focus on this.
I’ve written on about scripts that people use and various models of evangelism. These focus on content.
For other people, what comes to mind is actions. A famous quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi is “Preach the gospel everywhere. If necessary, use words.” (Did Assisi get it wrong?)
For example, during a health outreach our church did for its neighborhood, one unchurched person commented,
“I don’t like to listen to sermons, today I saw one.”
Our service to the community was interpreted as we wanted – a tangible demonstration of the love of Christ that we have for our neighborhood.
It’s a witness to the world thru actions.
Yet that interpretation came about because we gathered all the volunteers at the beginning and I explained to them why we as a church are doing this outreach. We are serving because God first loved us and we want to demonstrate that to the community.
In our committee discussion last week, we got into a debate over whether sending church teams to build a Habitat house, or taking our week’s turn for providing overnight housing for the town’s homeless ministry was evangelism.
I get into this at: Is Community Service really Evangelism?
Servant evangelism focuses on actions. Many churches have social outreach programs to their local areas, but often, many find that doesn’t increase significantly to church attendance or new members.
When it comes to action based activity, I want to be clear – I’m not convinced it’s evangelism in and of itself.
Good works demonstrate our faith. But those good works need an explanation.
Without any overt explanation that our actions are propelled by God’s love for whom we are serving, what makes our good deeds any different than what a social service agency provides, or what good corporate citizens provide?
I’ve written more about this in a prior post.
Actions can be a good support or point of contact for evangelistic conversations.
It’s not an either/or proposition for me. Both are necessary forms of sharing. Deeds are love demonstrated, but a further explanation of the gospel is necessary.
Giving food to the hungry, tutoring underprivileged kids, providing free medical care are all good deeds. They demonstrate love.
But beyond the demonstration comes explanation. It is my view that many churches that only serve are not growing because there is often no conversational explanation of the gospel to go along with the service.
Let me ask you this?
How do you see deeds in relationship to evangelism?