The Evangelical Experience: Ethics and Praxis – Evangelism


Continuing The Evangelical Experience series, this quotation is from Chapter 6, which details Evangelical ethics and praxis.  The following is a discussion of the methods of evangelism that are sometimes used within the Evangelical faith.  
 

"While acts of service and the loving way that Evangelicals live in the world should draw others into the faith, explicit Evangelism is also a necessity. You can’t just go around “being a good person” and expect people to get saved. At some point they have to hear the gospel message and accept Christ for themselves.

Evangelism, or explicitly spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, can be done in many ways. In some churches, evangelists are sent out to interact with random people they meet on the street or at a mall. These evangelists may approach others out of the blue and begin to share the gospel, perhaps using the Romans Road presentation discussed above. This method of evangelism is rare, and many Evangelicals would see it as extreme or off-putting. But it does still happen. I have been a part of these groups and sometimes the interactions are even video-taped for later review. Jesus, in the Gospels, instructs his disciples to go out two by two spreading the message of the Kingdom of God. Modern believers, in this way, take up the same cause using the same method.

Another way that the gospel is sometimes spread is through Tracts. In these short pieces of literature, the gospel is laid out in some form or another, sometimes as a surprise ending to a story. Tracts can be handed out to random people on the street, but they can also be left in mailboxes or in public places. Like any movement that is looking to spread, literature can sometimes be an effective aid to that end. Personally, I have left tracts on buses, on seats in coffee shops, in clothing stores in pockets of shirts or jeans, etc. Like street evangelism, handing out tracts is not done often, especially by those more mature in the faith. They can be seen as tacky and most pastors probably wouldn’t endorse them. But this method is still used from time to time.

A third way that evangelism is performed is through television. Not only do you have classic televangelists, but often regular Evangelical churches will buy cable access time and broadcast their sermons over the air. The hope here is to expose people to the content of their church and welcome them to come on Sunday. Sometimes pastors will add an invitation to accept Christ at the end of their services on the air, but oftentimes they will simply air sermons aimed at their congregation. This is a growing method of evangelism.

A fourth method of evangelism is the Mega-Rally, which is often aimed at youth. In this method, middle school and high school youth group members are encouraged to get their non-Christian friends to come to the rally; here their friends will hear the gospel and potentially accept Christ. These events are often exciting, with Christian rock or hip-hop music, special effects, engaging speakers, and testimonies of those who have accepted Christ -telling how God has changed their lives. Like the great revivals in the 18th Century, these are emotional events and the attendees are encouraged to accept salvation for themselves. These rallies are often very effective in getting 'decisions for Christ' from youth. A highly related method is the summer church camp in which youth are encouraged to invite their friends for a week of fun and introduction to the faith.

A final method of evangelism is simply developing relationships with non-Christians and eventually 'sharing Christ' with them. This is probably the most common method among adult Evangelicals as they are usually not going to bring their adult friends to a rally or hand them a tract. Sharing Christ with your friends can take many forms and will be determined by the individual’s personality. Maybe the friend is asked to read a book and discuss it. Maybe the friend is presented the Romans Road. Often they are simply invited to church. It’s up to the individual believer as to how they practice individual evangelism, but everyone is encouraged to do this in some way or another.

You can’t overestimate the importance of evangelism to Evangelical Christians. Based on Evangelical theology, if you haven’t accepted Christ, you are destined for an eternity in Hell, which is usually interpreted as eternal conscious torment. If you truly accept that theology, you have to be pretty heartless to just watch your friends go there without trying to get them saved. When I was an Evangelical Christian, any time I was talking to a non-Christian friend or stranger, this was pretty much all I could think about. The only important question was: Have they accepted Christ or not? I had the key to eternal paradise and if I didn’t share it with them, they were doomed. My conscience wouldn’t let me not share Christ. The only thing getting in the way was me feeling awkward about bringing up the gospel in normal conversation. But how selfish could I be that I wouldn’t risk a little social awkwardness for the eternal destiny of my friend! To the Evangelical mind, no cause is more important than bringing people to Christ. No social issue could be as important as saving souls. This world is temporary; salvation is eternal. The necessity of evangelism weighs heavily on the consciences of committed Evangelical Christians."

 


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