I just want to say up front that my thoughts on evangelism are not just random ones. They’ve been birthed in the crucible of my long and gruelling history of failure in the enterprise at hand. Having failed miserably on many occasions to achieve anything close to an evangelistic encounter I have certainly earned the right to speak on this subject.
Because the gospel itself is simple and straight forward, I have sought to keep my thoughts on the subject simple and straight forward as well. Evangelism need not be as difficult as people like myself have sometimes made it. All you have to do is follow the three steps outlined below.
1. Open your mouth.
Studies show that it’s easier to get words out of an open mouth than a closed one, unless you’re a ventriloquist. Even then, the mouth is usually partially open as long as the lips don’t move. Of course, if you’re far enough away from your audience the lips can move slightly. If you would like more information on how to speak without moving your lips I’m sure there are many quality ventriloquistic courses available on the web. In evangelism it doesn’t really matter if the lips move or not. And you certainly don’t need a dummy sitting on your lap. The important thing is that the mouth is open wide enough for words to get out of it. So the first step in effective evangelism is to open your trap.
When the Apostle Paul spoke before the Sanhedrin the high priest ordered someone to smack Paul in the mouth (see Acts 23). Why? Because the high priest didn’t like the words coming out of it (Paul’s mouth). He understood that an open mouth often leads to talking, which could include words you don’t want to hear. Which brings me to the next step.
2. Say something.
Once the mouth is open, the second step is to actually say something. Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with saying: “Preach the gospel at all times, use words when necessary.” With all due respect to Saint Francis, evangelism implies, dare we say requires, the speaking of actual words. I suppose you could communicate the gospel through body language but the potential for misunderstanding is enormous. You might think you’re communicating your excitement for the gospel when in fact you’re really telling someone that you need to use the bathroom. Such are the difficulties in reading body language.
3. Say something about Jesus.
Talking about the weather or the Blue Jays or even Donald Trump doesn’t qualify as evangelism. Sometimes even atheists use their mouths for talking. There are even reports of talking Hindus and Buddhists. In fact, there are unbelievers who can’t shut up.
In order to evangelize someone you must talk about Jesus (see Philip the Evangelist in Acts 8). This is the difficult part of the process. Most people are fairly capable of enacting steps one and two. It’s this pesky step three that really causes the most problems. Some would argue that it doesn’t really matter what you say because “God knows your heart.” You might be talking about the colour of your hair or the tattoo on your arm but God knows that you really want to communicate the gospel so He is able to transmit that information directly from your heart into the head of your unbelieving communication partner. No need for the info to come out through your mouth and into their ears because God is able to work a miracle.
To date, however, there have been no confirmed reports of anyone receiving the gospel through osmosis. Most people hear the gospel through the open mouth of a Christian. Yes, occasionally God speaks to people in dreams and visions but even then the subject usually seeks further explanation from a seasoned believer. Again, that further explanation would require an open mouth saying something about Jesus.
To recap then, the process is indeed a simple one:
Open your mouth
Say something about Jesus
If you’re not comfortable with these steps then simply do what most other Christians do; leave it to the professionals, which would include pretty much anybody whose last name is Graham.
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