Dear Pastor Lawyer,
In May, our church began having two services on Sunday mornings. The first service is geared to Christians and the second service is more oriented to non-Christians. We were wondering what you think about the best way for a church to “do evangelism”. Thanks for the help.
John & Constance
I should probably point out that in Christian circles “evangelism” is one of the most feared words there is. One of the reasons evangelism holds such a fearful place is that we don’t really know what we’re doing. This is because Christians think they need to “do” evangelism rather than to follow the Biblical of bringing people to Jesus. If you had a friend visiting from out of town, you wouldn’t have trouble introducing him to your neighbors or telling the folks at work about him. Evangelism is just like sharing the joy of a special friendship with other friends. Who Jesus is is what makes the task a bit different, but essentially what you’re doing is telling your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors about the most important person in your life and why He holds that position.
With this in mind, let’s look at the best way a church can go about “doing evangelism”. First, everyone ought to prepare (write out) the story about how he came to know God. This story should include 3 parts: (1) an element of one’s former life, including mention of one’s to sin, guilt for sin, and need for a Savior from sin; (2) what God did in Christ for him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the price for sin. This death and His subsequent resurrection took God’s wrath away and set him free from sin and death. This is the Gospel, which is the power of God for salvation and must be present for a person to come to Christ; and (3) last, there needs to be an explanation of the response a person made when he believed the information about Jesus’ death, how when he believed, he turned to God with a great sorrow in his heart for the past years of rebellion, how he hated his sin and turned from it to follow God, and how he begged Him to forgive him and to allow him back into fellowship with Him. He should also include how when He forgave and freed him from his past life, he praised Him with every fiber of his being. You need to make sure that the non-Christian you’re talking with understands that becoming a Christian is easy, but the life of a Christian will not be. There is incredible joy, which comes from knowing God, but the Bible also says that anyone who wants to walk with God will experience suffering because of that friendship.
Once the story is written and remembered (‘memorize’ seems like such a rigid word), the church members need to pray for God to bring opportunities to share their story with the people they meet and chat with throughout the week. They should also be praying for boldness so that they won’t shrink away in fear and let the chance to talk about God slip by. They should pray for wisdom so that the story will fit the situation and the person they are talking with. Remember, we are bringing people out of their suffering into a glorious new relationship with the living God. It is a wonderful ministry we’ve been given. Praise the Lord!
Finally, the church itself should make the Sunday worship service the most wonderful time of celebration and worship it can (for God’s blessing). The people should be prepared ahead of time to participate in the service and everything should be done decently and in order. It should be a serious and sacred assembly. It should be characterized by a realization that it is the Creator of the universe they are meeting with. Flippancy and familiarity should be left at home. This is a serious, but joyful time (Lewis called it solempne). This is the optimal setting for bringing a non-Christian to church. When a non-Christian comes to church, he wants to see Christians doing what Christians do. If God is working in his heart, drawing him to Himself, the non-Christian needs to see Christ when he looks as Christ’s body. He needs to hear the preaching of the Word; he needs to hear the singing of the Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; he needs to see the fruit of the Spirit as it emanates from the hearts of the saints in worship of their God. This is the Gospel witness that non-Christians need to see and to experience.
I hope this helps,