What Evangelism Isn’t

Because of your calling to plant churches, it's important to know what evangelism isn't. Let’s say you’re in. You agree with the apostle Paul when he wrote: “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others…. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For…

evangelism isn't

Because of your calling to plant churches, it’s important to know what evangelism isn’t.

Let’s say you’re in. You agree with the apostle Paul when he wrote:

“Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others…. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (II Corinthians 5:11, 18–20 NLT)

How then do you answer this question, also posed by Paul?

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14 NLT)

Obviously, the Bible is asking these questions rhetorically. Nobody’s life will be impacted for Christ unless somebody impacts it for Christ.

So how do you do that? How does someone who is a Christ follower impact someone spiritually in a positive way who isn’t a Christ follower?

What Evangelism Isn’t

I can tell you what won’t reach those who are far from God. They won’t read a tract that you leave in a bathroom stall. They won’t listen to Christian radio or podcasts or watch Christian television or movies. They won’t read a bumper sticker that says, “Jesus Loves You” and feel like pulling their car over to the side of the road and reorienting the entire trajectory of their life.

So how do you impact a life for Christ? The answer is you become an evangelist. I know this immediately raises images of somebody pushy, obnoxious, loud, opinionated, and annoying—everything you hate. You probably don’t even like the word evangelism itself. Probably the first thing that enters your mind is going out and knocking on people’s doors or standing on a street corner with a bullhorn.

Trust me, I get it.

But that’s not what evangelism is about. The core dynamic of evangelism is investing and inviting.

Invest

Let’s start off with the invest part. Investing in someone is simply about building a relationship. Getting to know them, spending time with them, entering into community with them.

Only within the confines of a relationship will there be the trust to be authentic and to have conversations about what matters most in life. You already have these relationships built into your life. You have friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers. You have people that you interact with through your kids at school or with sports teams.

But if you’re going to make an impact on them for the cause of Christ, you have to be intentional about those relationships. You must serve those relationships. You need to invest in them as someone who is on mission for them and their life.

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James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.