By Jon Hansen, District Representative, Mountain Central
Village Missions uses a list of five vital signs based on what the early church had in common in Acts 2 that helps us evaluate the spiritual health of our churches. These vital signs are Instruction, Worship, Prayer, Fellowship and Evangelism. Each year I focus on one of these signs as I visit with missionaries and churches.
The Basics of Evangelism
This spring I shared on the topic of Evangelism as seen in John 3:17 (ESV, here and following), which says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” This text spells out God’s plan for evangelism. We notice that evangelism starts with God and proceeds through His Son Jesus, being sent on a mission to provide salvation for the condemned.
I am fascinated by the word send. This word means to be on a mission as a sent one. Jesus was sent on a mission to save the condemned. He did not come to condemn but to save. The word condemn is interesting: It means to pass judgement. Jesus at this time did not come to pass judgment, but to save.
Village Missions & Evangelism
We, too, have been sent on a mission to bring people to Jesus for salvation, not to condemn them. The lost are condemned already. We don’t have to do that. As believers on a mission, we need to focus on declaring to the lost that Jesus saves. The word saved clearly defines for us what our message should focus on. It means to rescue. We are on a rescue mission.
How do we take this message to our lost friends? Let’s follow the example of Jesus.
First of all Jesus made God The Father and His will the sole purpose of His life. When you look at John 17 you see that Jesus came to glorify The Father. Salvation means having a relational knowledge of God through Jesus. John 17:3 tells us, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Luke 22:42 tells us that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said “Not my will but thine be done.”
To evangelize in a Christ-like way, we need to first make God The Father and His will the sole purpose of our Life. Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ” and in Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, “Seek Ye first the kingdom of God.”
We need to look at our own heart and ask the question, “What is the sole focus of my life?”
To illustrate this, draw a large circle and then draw a center circle and then smaller circles around the center.
This is a picture of you.
Write in the center circle what the main focus of your life is. You may say, “You mean what it should be, or what it is right now?” That is a good self-revealing question.
Then, next to the smaller circles, label other things or people that are the secondary interests of your life. If the Father is your center, then even if your secondary interests eclipse your focus for a time, you will still be a example of a God-centered Christ-follower and a good evangelist. Your life will be a true testimony to your lost friends. They will notice that you are stable even when your secondary interest points let you down. They will be able to answer the question about you: What is the center of your life?
Evangelism Means Loving the People
Now draw a similar set of circles to be a used as a picture of lost people that are in your relational world. Do you know them well enough to identify what is the center of their life?
Jesus lived among the lost and so should we. Jesus knew the people of His mission field and so should we. To be effective evangelists, we need to know God well, which comes through knowing the Bible. Secondly, we need to know people in our relational world well.
This is why Village Missions transplants our missionaries into the community and expects them to build a personal relationship with people. This is what we mean by “Love The People.” Every evangelizing believer must have a personal relationship with the Father through Christ and a personal relationship with the people to bring them to Christ.
Think of those lost souls in your life. How well do you know them? Are you part of their lives? How well do they know you? Do they consider you part of their life? This is what we ask all our Village Missionaries to do.
Once you have that kind of relationship, you may ask how do we present Christ to them? In the book “Jesus Among Secular Gods” by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale we find six questions we can use to help engage our friends with the gospel.
Evangelism: Understand Their Perspective
The first three questions help us understand their perspective.
1. “What is your biggest objection to Christianity?”
- The most common answer is: “Christians are hypocrites.”
- Our answer to them is “Yes we are. Christ is not finished working on us yet.” This will often surprise our friends and show them that authentic Christians are real people, like them.
2. “Have you ever had an experience in your life that made you think or wish there might be a God?”
- This question will help us understand were our friends are hurting so that when the time comes we can present a God who cares and is the answer to their particular issue.
3. “If God exists, what do you think He thinks of You?”
- This will reveal your friends misunderstanding of who God is.
Clarify & Present the Gospel
The last three questions give the opportunity to clarify and present the gospel to our friends with the hope that they will respond.
4. “Would you mind if I explained the central message of Christianity to You?”
5. Would you be comfortable if I prayed for you?”
- If they say yes, then pray for what is important to them. You might remember their answer to the second question.
- Pray for them in their presence. This way you will live your Christianity in front of them and let them know you and God care.
6. If I asked you what keeps you from giving your life to Jesus, what would you say?”
- They may say, “nothing”. If this is the case, then lead them to Christ.
- If they are not ready, then continue to walk and build a closer relationship with them, praying that they will open up to the Lord.
Remember that according to Acts 2, God is the one who added to the church. In other words, God is the one who saves. Our job is to be devoted to God and love the people so that we can share Christ with them. It is not our job to save, but it is our job to present Christ whom we have a relationship with, hoping that they two will want that same relationship. This is true evangelism.
As was once said, “We win the lost to win the lost…” Our goal is to win the lost, then disciple them to win more lost people for Christ. This is how evangelism and discipleship go together.
My prayer is that this method of evangelism will help you as you endeavor to evangelize your relational world. If you are reading this and have questions about your own relationship with the Lord, please feel free to contact Village Missions.