The following are responses to a series of questions asked by one of our college students:
Is evangelism the most important job of the church?
The most important job of the body of Christ is discipleship, which begins with evangelism, but continues to maturity. We’ve reached maturity when we pass our faith on to others (which brings us back to evangelism).
Is everyone an evangelist? Why or why not?
I’m not sure everyone is an evangelist (Paul lists it among a set of spiritual gifts that are given to some, but not all, in the church). But everyone is an ambassador for Christ. So we all represent Christ to the world. All followers of Jesus should be praying for the lost, living with an open heart toward the lost, and playing whatever part God gives us in leading them to faith.
What is the most important characteristic one should possess to be an evangelist?
The ability to listen: both to listen to the person, and, even more importantly, the ability to listen to the Spirit of God by paying attention to your conscience. When I am in the midst of spiritual conversation, it is my conscience that teaches me when to speak and when to keep silent, when to convict with God’s commands and when to comfort with the message of grace.
How do you think people in the church generally perceive the idea of evangelism?
I think most people have embraced our role in the mission of the church, but are still trying to figure out what part they play in it individually. My encouragement is that wherever people are, that they stretch themselves. For most, it starts with making a habit of praying for the lost. Then we begin building relationships. Then we learn to tune into God’s Spirit in those relationships so that we start having conversation about things that matter. Finally, evangelistic conversation becomes a natural part of life, and you start to miss it when it is absent.
Is there a central Bible passage or theme around which you guide your understanding of evangelism?
John 10:10 – Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Evangelism is the process of inviting people to experience the only life that is really worth living.
How does Trinity Lutheran church carry out evangelism? What about the grade school?
The school (and childcare) are presenting lots of opportunities for us to connect with people who are lost, or who are Christian in name only. We continue to encourage our congregation simply to build relationships with the lost (whether at Trinity, or at work, or in their neighborhoods) and then to be watching for what Jesus wants to do with those relationships. We work to help people become comfortable with spiritual conversation and praying with people, because once that becomes a natural part of your life with believers, those skills form the foundation of reaching unbelievers. We also have leaders in our congregation who devote considerable time to mentoring people individually, so that there are always more people in our community who are growing in their ability to make disciples.