“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only…”
– James 1:22 (ESV)
When it comes to evangelism it is all about love. In response to the two greatest commandments – loving God and loving people (Mark 12:28-31), can you think of any greater way to demonstrate that love than through the proclamation of the gospel? While many readily declare their love for the Lord and their neighbor, often others are apprehensive and reticent to share their testimony and bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Why is this so? Ben Johnson shares survey data in his book, Evangelism Primer, and cites ten barriers to traditional evangelism:
1. “I don’t want my friends to turn me off because I’m religious!” (Fear of rejection)
2. “Other persons are more gifted in personal witness than I.” (Not gifted)
3. “I lack the depth of experience of the Holy Spirit who could enable me to witness effectively.” (Lack of experience)
4. “I’d rather not introduce emotionalism into the life of the church. It causes confusion and creates division.” (Fear of emotionalism)
5. “As mainline Christians we are too sophisticated to engage in evangelism. Let the uneducated and the Pentecostals do it if they like, but not us.” (Too sophisticated)
6. “I don’t think I understand the gospel well enough to convince someone else.” (Uncertain of the gospel)
7. “Even if I wanted to evangelize my neighbor, I wouldn’t know where to start.” (Lack of skills)
8. “I’ve always felt that a person’s faith was private and I don’t know want to intrude. Besides, it’s not polite to talk about religion in public.” (A private affair)
9. “I think we hire the preacher to do the evangelizing.” (A hired Christian)
10. “Most evangelism I know about discounts persons by manipulating them to make decisions they later regret.” (Fear manipulation)
Interestingly, Ben Johnson notes fear was the #1 reason persons gave as a barrier to evangelism. But, God is not a God of fear and timidity. (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore, the spirit of fear and timidity is not of God, rather of Satan, and can be overcome by the believer through prayer and fasting. The bottom line is, lifestyle evangelism is non-traditional and does not require a strategy: rather, living the life that Jesus calls us to live. The only strategy Jesus gives us is to follow Him. (See Luke 9:23).
Beloved, did you know the best argument against Christianity is the life lived out by a professing Christian? Consider Sheldon Vanauken quote from his book: A Severe Mercy (HarperCollins 1977): “The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.” May I ask you a question: Are you a doer of the word and not merely a hearer only?
Next week: conclusion
The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.