When you think of the word Evangelist what or who do you think of? Does it bring back memories from childhood of Evangelists leading revivals in the local churches? Do you think of the Billy Graham Crusades when you hear evangelist? According to the Thesaurus evangelist means: 1. A Protestant minister or layperson who serves an itinerant or special preacher, especially a revivalist. 2. A preacher of the gospel. Evangelism is defined as the preaching of the Christian Gospel or the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others with the intention of conversion. Whoa! That sounds pretty intimidating doesn’t it? Let’s think about this a minute.
I thought so to until I started reading a book that broke it down a little bit and explained it. Now I get it and I want you to get it too. Women are notorious for sharing information. We share all kinds of information. When we find a good product we want others to know about it. When we find an easier way to do a task she shares that information. When we find a good recipe most of the times we want to share that as well. Women share good news and the bad news. Women share over cups of coffee (or tea); lunch, phone conversations and sometimes we stop in the store and share with other women. We like to share things.
Men are the same way; they just don’t admit it. I have proof. We were in a grocery store recently. My husband who likes a certain brand of coffee was in the coffee aisle and had just picked up a brand new container when a man stopped and asked him if he really liked that brand of coffee and my husband was off and running about how great it was and the best way to fix it. Men often stop and ask my husband about his truck and pulling campers. I love to get in crowds and stand back and watch the men; they are talkers too.
So we have established people like to talk and share things. Most of the time it is good things, but there are times we share with others prayer concerns or those things bothering us. The author pointed out that there are times we share our faith in the same way. When God has done something or has blessed us in some way we are often quick to share that. We love to share what God is doing or has done in our lives; maybe not as often as we should but when we get the chance we share it; unfortunately, most of the times we share it with other believers or our friends and often times our family.
I loved what it said about evangelism in the above paragraph; it said evangelism is defined as the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others; a practice of relaying information to others….sharing our faith. It doesn’t say this is only for clergy, it’s doesn’t name Billy Graham or any of the TV Evangelists. It just says a practice of relaying information. Now if we use the word Evangelism in that way that means anytime we are relaying any information about our faith we are evangelizing. Well, if we are evangelizing then we must be Evangelists right?
So we have moved from thinking of Evangelists as those Ordained, saintly men to we who are ordinary everyday housewives and husbands and workers, and friends. If we share our faith we are Evangelists. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12 The Message. We are to take our everyday, ordinary life, going-to-work, walking –around life and place it before God as an offering. An offering is simply giving back to God what belongs to Him already. So that means we are to take our lives give them back to Him and share with others what God has done for us. The neat thing is we can do this over lunch, over coffee, over the phone or any way that is comfortable for you. The important thing is you do it.
I will admit I remember those revivals growing up and sometimes the Evangelists were loud and kind of scary. I never thought I wanted to be one before. Now though understanding evangelism is nothing more than sharing some vital information about our faith with others over a cup of tea, or lunch or even a shopping date doesn’t sound so scary and so bad.
The one thing I think we need to be aware of is this: it’s great to share this information with others in the church and those we are comfortable with, but that’s not where God calls us. He calls us to step out of our comfort zone and reach those outside of our comfortable circles and those in the wilderness. I bet in your neighborhood alone you can’t count the number of people who do not attend church. What if you decided to take one of those neighbors under your wings, took them out to lunch, had them over for a meal and started a relationship with them. What if you took time to really get to know them and what they are all about? What do you think could possibly happen after a relationship develops and you begin to slowly, bring the topic around church or faith after several visits and in a casual conversation? Evangelism is not starting off sharing faith in a threatening way, but developing a relationship and a friendship and then slowly as trust begins, as a relationship starts developing and as God prompts you to bring it around to your faith and sharing what God has done for you. It’s also called mentoring someone into a relationship. It’s bringing others to see that faith is not scary, church is not such a bad place and it’s about showing them God’s love for them. It’s all about relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others about one’s faith.
Every day we relay information about everything; the next newest electronic, the best cell phone, the best place to shop, etc how about relaying the information of Christ’s love with others in a setting that isn’t threatening or intimidating? Let’s put evangelism back into the world in a less frightening way and still accomplish the task of winning souls for God. Who is going to evangelize with me?
Dear God: Evangelism is one of those churchy words that can be scary and frightening. It’s something we think you have to be ordained to do or have a special talent or we just want others to do it. When we think of relaying information about what You have done for us and sharing that with others in a simple way it doesn’t seem so scary. Give us the heart to do evangelism with those in our neighborhoods, where we work and those we come in contact with outside of the church. Teach us it’s about building relationships, trust and friendships. It’s about caring for those around us. Help me as I step out of my comfort zone and start evangelizing. Amen.