Joy in Evangelism

Joy in Evangelism … sadly, this phrase is a contradiction to many followers of Jesus. Yet this past Sunday in Luke 10, we noted two motivations for faithfulness in our evangelism that work to ensure we experience joy in the privilege and responsibility of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. Those two motivations are trusting in God’s sovereignty (Luke 10.2-3; the One with all authority sends us out) and treasuring our salvation (Luke 10.20; don’t be most joyful over what we do for Jesus, but what He’s done for us).

With these motivations in view, here are three closing exhortations of application, from Colossians 4.2-6, regarding our methods of evangelism.

  1. Live in prayerful awareness (Colossians 4.2-3).

Devote – give yourself over to prayer; continue on in it. This isn’t speaking of a passing fad but a persevering mark of the people of God. Who are the people whom you have begged God to save for years? Be devoted … stay devoted … trust that your prayers matter in the scope of redemptive history.

Awareness of what? When he says in verse 3 “while you are at it,” it seems as though he is saying, pray for us what you are praying for yourself. Pray we will have opportunities to share clearly about Jesus to those who have yet to hear. In verses 5 through 6 he picks back up on this. Paul seems to be saying BE AWARE/BE WISE in the way you see unbelievers, so you will be watching for and able to make the most of opportunities. Do you think about the people you interact with on a daily basis, and are you praying for them? Psalm 5.3 reminds us of the watchfulness that is to accompany our prayers. CLC: pray, eagerly await, and be involved in this exciting work! This leads us to:

  1. Intentionally engage with others (Colossians 4.5).

Wisely engage people with the message of Jesus, and look to make the most of your opportunities. Engage with others … practically, this means stop living as though you are promised tomorrow, that there is always time to get around to the gospel! I’m not saying to head out and force the most mutually awkward conversation in the world. Don’t be insensitive to how the Spirit is working because when we force the gospel and the conversation tanks, we usually walk away saying, “I’ll never do that again.” Don’t do that. Start with prayerful awareness, and when opportunities are presented be faithful and ready to engage. In my experience, very rarely are opportunities explicitly offered (for example: someone coming up and begging you to share the hope you have). While these don’t seem to be normative, 1 Peter 3.15 calls us to be ready and to give a defense. Paul is asking for prayer, not just to react well to questions but to be quick to bring up/initiate conversation about the good news of Jesus. This is for God’s glory, their good, and OUR JOY. When we do this, we will increase our joy in the very promises we are sharing with another.

CLC: join me in begging God for faithfulness, and a willingness to risk, so that a culture of evangelism is prevalent among our church. A culture of evangelism is not a program-based approach, or a one and done view on sharing the gospel. It is a culture where this boldness and faithfulness happens at grocery store over the conveyer belt, on the front porches of our homes, or at the gym when we actually take our earbuds out to engage others around us. But a culture of evangelism doesn’t happen in isolation of the church. No, it happens in community!

Jamie Dunlop and Mark Dever, in recalling the story of Walter a former addict who was homeless, jobless, and without Christ, share the following. Brady was out looking for people to share Christ with when he met Walter. A few meetings later, Brady invited Walter to meet some of his church family. One of those friends sang a song on Easter about Jesus being alive. Then, “A few weeks later, with the lyrics ‘Jesus is Alive!’ repeating through his head, Walter suddenly believed Jesus was alive. On his knees, he trusted Christ. By the time he was baptized, dozens in the church already knew his story. So who led Walter to the Lord? Was it Brady, who had the courage to walk up and explain the gospel? Was it Andy, who met him a few days later and shared Christ? Was is Mark, who preached one of the sermons God used to pierce his heart? Was it Shai, who sang that song?” Evangelism in Walter’s story happened both on the personal and corporate level. Personal in that it involved explaining the gospel in the context of a friendship. Corporate in that without introducing non-Christians to the local church, we ignore the greatest evidence we have for the truth and power of the gospel.

My prayer for CLC is that in two months, at our April prayer meeting, we would have at least 10 people stand to say, “pray for me as I begin hosting lost people in my home/office for a bible study” or “I joined a rec league to build relationships for sharing the gospel.” Or that CLC would begin to grow on the stammering tongues of the likes of you and me as we hold out the glorious gospel! May God use us as He used Marilyn Kunz and Kay Schell. In 1960, these ladies recognized that many people would be interested in the bible if they had an opportunity to learn what it said. So they began to invite their lost/unchurched neighbors, co-workers, and friends into small groups to study the bible together, while encouraging a few other Christians to do the same. Within five years — 5 YEARS! — 200 groups met in the northern suburbs of NYC. Will you be one of the 10 who stand and ask for prayer to take initiative and risk for the glory of God, the joy of another, and myself!

As a church, we stand to grow a lot here. The majority of our growth has been from Christians relocating or finding us. And PRAISE GOD FOR THAT. But this is not the only growth we long for! We long to see people cross over from death to life through the saving power of Jesus Christ! Dunlop and Dever note, “the way there isn’t found in us shortening our services, opening up service opportunities to nonmembers, or catering more to lost people … no the church will never be able to out-world the world. The main way non-Christians will come to the church is through a relationship they have with a Christian in the church. Our best strategy for reaching the world is to fain the local church into a raging inferno of supernatural witness that will be far more attractive than adjustments to music, sermons, or small groups could ever be.”

Last exhortation:

  1. Be marked by winsome speech (Colossians 4.6).

Let your speech be seasoned with salt. That is to say palatable, easy to receive, making you want more. Our words and tone ought to not be accusatory, self-righteous, abrasive, argumentative, or judgmental. No, seasoned with salt means our speech ought to be humble, vulnerable, caring, interested, warm, appropriate, influenced more by that person’s condition/God’s glory than your agenda. Church, be unafraid and trust God because you have confidence in the Christ and message you are sharing (Romans 1.16). When you share the gospel, are you Christ-like in what you say and how you say it?

CLC: be bold amidst your fear. This isn’t a new program, it’s a way of seeing, being, and living radiant, Jesus-soaked lives in our everyday routines. It’s a way of allowing God to use us to bring people to Himself—for His glory and for the good of who knows how many … maybe 12, or 100, or thousands through the life of this church. To God be glory!

Justin Perry

Posted on: February 2, 2016 - 12:20PM

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