Saturday, August 1, 2009

Helpful Definitions on Evangelism

Evangelism is sometimes misunderstood and not every ones most popular subject to engage with or practice. I find the following definitions of evangelism thought-provoking and empowering. I pray they are useful for you.

1) Evangelism is ‘the set of intentional activities which is governed by the goal of initiating people into the Kingdom of God’ (William J. Abraham: the logic of evangelism)
2) Evangelism is ‘directed to those outside the Church, intended to bring them to a definite and acknowledged faith’ (George E. Sweazey: Effective Evangelism: the greatest work in the world)
3) Evangelism is every possible way of reaching outside the church to bring people to faith in Christ (George E. Sweazey: Effective Evangelism: the greatest work in the world)

What I like about the above definitions is that evangelism is not defined as an event or a one off happening. Sometimes I get the feeling that many people feel evangelism is simply an event or a one off something they do but in fact this is not so. Abraham is convincing in his text that evangelism is in fact many many activities that we may be engaged in that interlink with each other and play a great part in seeing people become committed Christ followers. Evangelism is every possible way of reaching outside the church to bring people to faith...this is encouraging.

The above definitions make evangelism 'doable'. Many people I speak with, feel that the task is not doable because they feel evangelism is only 'praying the prayer' with someone! They feel under pressure to get people 'across the line' so to speak. Now, I know you probably don't think that but the way we conduct evangelism inside the four walls of our churches certainly may lead people to this view point.

From where I stand, evangelism is about the things we do everyday with people as we journey with them. It is on this everyday journey that people get to see Christ in us and through us and it is on this journey that we are given opportunities to be witnesses to Christ on the earth.

With the pressure off, with the adoption of the above definitions of evangelism, I am confident that we can have a great shot at the great commission.

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