Evangelism is the reason the Good News of Jesus Christ spread throughout the world. Yes, Jesus’ life was shocking to the culture and challenged the mindset and level of comfort people of faith felt. He was radical and His life changed lives. But what made His influence spread was evangelism.
Jerusalem was where Christianity started to grow. Many people of this great city were feeling compelled to sacrifice everything for this Man who lived perfectly, died gruesomely and resurrected from the grave three days later (Acts 2-4). His life challenged others to live as He did; sacrificially and with a servant’s heart. His love and goodness spread throughout the city of Jerusalem. Jewish leaders were taking notice and were trying to stop the progress of the Good News. But they could not contain Him! Some of them even came to believing in Jesus and gave their lives to Him! (Acts 6:7) But at this point, the spread of Christianity was happening in Jerusalem because Jesus told His disciples to stay there. Jerusalem was a key place of influence, and the disciples were to stay there for a time. In that time they received the Holy Spirit, as found in Acts 2. This started the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
But the Word of God was not only meant for Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. The Great Commission Jesus gave us at the end of Matthew (28:19) tells us His Gospel was meant to be shared with everyone, in all corners of the earth. Jew and Greek, male, and female, slave or free; it did not matter because His Gospel was meant for everyone (Galatians 3:28-29).
It is interesting to see how evangelism was started. In Acts 6 and 7, we hear about Stephen, a faithful servant and disciple, who became the first martyr of the Christian faith. After His death, a great persecution broke out (Acts 8) fueled by Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul (Acts 9). In essence, the spread of Jesus’ life and message happened as a result of persecution. It was death threats and beatings that spread the church leaders of the time. But it was only effective because they “stayed and waited” in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come and fill them with His power and authority.
All of this is key to understanding the value and importance of evangelism. Evangelism was not some reaction to a lack or a void in the faith. Nor was it a “marketing promotion” where your goal is to sell and push a product. No, it was a call set before the people of faith before it formed and challenged its believers. God’s presence was established and the task became a marching order when His Spirit came.
Today, we have the same call the early disciples had. To go into all the world, to love one another and to share the Gospel. The task never changes for us, but at times, the method may. God’s Word is unchanging, but it is also living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It was relevant 2,000 years ago and it is relevant today. Oftentimes, though, our evangelism isn’t relevant. The Greek word for evangelism is translated as, “an announcer of the Good News of Jesus; a bringer of good tidings to those who do not know it yet.” Our call and responsibility is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to go into all the world and make disciples.
We can’t overthink this and overcomplicate the act of evangelism. More than an act, it is obedience. Relevant evangelism means you listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit as Philip did with the Ethiopian in Acts 8. It means you serve and love well. It means you listen before you talk. Relevant evangelism is not about gaining converts, it’s about representing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with your life and your words. I love the fact that Matthew 28:19 tells us to “go and make disciples”, and not to go and make followers. There may never be a specific solution and how to for evangelism, but there are specific keys to know and understand before we go share Jesus. Listen before talking , love unconditionally, be obedient to what God is saying and be in it for the long haul. Remember, we are called to make disciples, not converts. Love and relationship are your greatest tools for evangelism. How are you using them to God’s advantage?