O’ Comfort Where Art Thou?

In one of my favorite books Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis wrote,

In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

In our society and culture, it’s far more inviting to talk with people about the positive benefits of following Jesus rather than the negative consequences of rejecting Him. We much prefer the good news to the bad, the comfort over the discomfort, and mercy instead of judgment.

But… the Christian message does not begin in comfort; it begins in dismay, and we won’t be able to receive God’s comfort until we face our dismay.

While completing my undergraduate degree at Campbellsville University I got to witness a group show up every semester to stand on the sidewalks on campus with signs and bullhorns “informing” the students there of the condemnation that was going to be heaped down upon them if they didn’t turn from their ways. Most of the statements they rallied around were very legalistic and their approach was all but gracious.

Standing on a street corner with a bullhorn shouting to people that they are going to Hell unless they turn to Christ tends not to bode well. It seems as if we, as the church, have no concept of the middle ground. We can’t share only the positives, but we can’t ignore the outcome of no decision made. Somewhere along the line, some Christians have missed the part about how our speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt.

Colossians 6 tell us this,

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

We are to respond with gentleness and respect like we are told to do in 1 Peter 3:15,

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

My natural personality aligns better with the gentle approach, but the older, or more seasoned, I get the more I’m learning that gentleness doesn’t have to mean “soft.” I can gently and respectfully talk with someone about Jesus, but that doesn’t mean I have to shy away from presenting truth. In fact, one of the most respectful things I could possibly do is talk with someone about the consequences of our sin and how we don’t want an eternity void of Christ.

One of the problems we face is that not everybody shares the same concept of truth. If someone is a secular humanist, who doesn’t believe in a universal Moral Law or a personal Power behind that Moral Law, he or she is not losing sleep over whether or not they have broken the law and put themself at odds with that personal Power. It’s hard to convince someone that they need saving when they don’t consider themself needing to be saved.

If you don’t believe you’re sick, you’re not going to listen to the doctor, and if you don’t believe the bad news, you’re not going to search for the Good News.

Herein lies the reason the Good News is called good. It is good, because it gives us a way out of the bad. The bad news is bad, because it takes us away from the good. When we realize that we have wrongly chosen the bad path, which and all of us have…

Romans 3:23 tells us,

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

It’s then, and only then, that we begin to understand the hope of the Gospel and the good news of Jesus and what He has to offer! Jesus met the demands of the Moral Law, for He never strayed off the path that leads to goodness. He is God in the flesh who saves us from the consequences of our own path, which is eternal separation from God. In other words, we cannot be open to receiving the good news and the comfort that accompanies until we understand the bad news that we see in Romans 6:23,

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Once we have a grasp on our despaired and broken state, that bad news that we all have sinned and the price of that sin is death, we will be open to receiving the good news that we see in 1 Peter 3:18,

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

If you stop to think about it, the claims of Christianity are quite terrifying and comforting all at the same time. When we face the brutal fact that we are sinners and our position is wholly desperate, it is terrifying to think of the eternal consequences for our wrongdoing. But there is also great comfort in knowing we have a loving, personal God who has provided the way out through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In John 14:6 Jesus says,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

So… again in closing C. S. Lewis once wrote,

In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

We are all sick and need the doctor. The bad news is our sickness is terminal… but if we listen to the Doctor we can find the Good News of an eternal cure. The Christian message does not begin in comfort; it begins in dismay, and we won’t be able to receive God’s comfort until we face our dismay.

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Kingdom First

Let me ask you a question…

What if the members of our churches started sharing their faith, but it wasn’t in a way that brought more people to our church? Would we celebrate and encourage that?

If not, we may not be as much about kingdom growth as we think we are.

We hear a lot today about church growth… and church growth is good. A healthy church should be growing just like a healthy person should grow. A healthy church cannot help but grow! Like any revival draws people from all over to it, genuine Spirit filled believers are drawn to a movement from the Lord.

A lot of churches are starting to evaluate every program and decision according to how much it helps the church grow. Are we too traditional? Too contemporary? Is our music too loud or too soft? Do we need a coffee bar, a younger more hip worship pastor, a funnier preacher?

Evaluation is good and healthy as long as we look at the big picture. The big picture that I am talking about is the Kingdom of God. Matthew 6:33 says,

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

We do not seek his kingdom to get what we want, but as we seek first the kingdom of God our lives and ministry cannot help but grow.

Church growth cannot be the only reason we do what we do in our local churches. There is a much higher calling to grow the kingdom of God.

In the book Externally Focused Quest Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson have a great discussion about the Kingdom. Here’s some highlights that may challenge your thinking:

How important is the kingdom? The word kingdom is mentioned 152 times in the New Testament and 116 times in the Gospels. By contrast, the word church is mentioned just three times in the Gospels – all in the book of Matthew. The first public words of John the Baptist and Jesus were to announce the kingdom (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). The first prayer request that Jesus taught his disciples was “Thy Kingdom come…” (Matthew 6:10). The first priority for the believer was to seek God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

 

What is the kingdom? The kingdom of God is any place over which God has operative dominion. The kingdom is where the King is reigning. So if Jesus is reigning as king in your own life, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

In the book Liberating the Church Howard Snyder writes,

Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy, and truth. Church people think about how to get people into church; kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church; kingdom people work to see the church change the world.

The church does not exist for itself. The church exists to proclaim and demonstrate that the kingdom is near.

So… what’s the difference between church thinking and kingdom thinking?

  • CHURCH: local, internal, evangelism the goal, programmed, gospel explained, Sunday, growing MY church.
  • KINGDOM: global, external, evangelism the starting point, organic, gospel lived out, Every day, growing THE church.

Jesus said in the great commission to go into all the world and make disciples. Those people that need to be reached and discipled in all the world don’t just include people from our local communities that will attend our local churches.

As people use social media to make new relationships and keep in touch with friends who have moved away, more aspects of our lives are happening without regard to geography. From crying with a friend going through a divorce, to celebrating the joy of childbirth, many of our most intimate moments are being lived through Facebook Live, Skype, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and FaceTime.

More people who share their faith are doing it online, too. Which means that the friends and family members they’re sharing it with are becoming less likely to be able to attend church together.

These recent nuances in connectivity and communication provide great potential for our church’s participation in kingdom growth, even if it doesn’t always result in the numerical growth of our local congregation.

I love the mindset of the senior pastor I work under. When he is asked about programs we could add like youth sports, Celebrate Recovery, etc… he normally redirects the conversation to a local church in our area that does that particular ministry with excellence and says, “Why would we try to compete with another ministry in our area instead of just sending people to that ministry to be nurtured?”

Sometimes our evangelism and discipleship can end up with us encouraging someone to follow Jesus to another church!

In the western church world, we have become so used to tethering evangelism to our church’s programming and attendance that we can forget they’re not the same thing.

NEWSFLASH: Church attendance isn’t the goal of evangelism. Following Jesus is the goal.

What if a church was teaching and practicing evangelism in such a way that people shared their faith in Jesus at work, in their neighborhoods, with their families and online, not only as part of a church program, but as a natural outgrowth of their faith? We must always remember that, while church attendance is a vital element in our spiritual growth, church attendance isn’t the goal of evangelism. Following Jesus is the goal – even if it means they attend a different church than ours!

We must remember that Jesus didn’t call us to make congregation members… He called us to make disciples. Making disciples comes first!

Let’s focus on the Kingdom and be just as happy when someone comes to Jesus and attends another good church as we are when they attend ours. It’s great when a church member invites an unchurched friend or family member to come to church with them. But it’s even better when that person invites someone to follow Jesus with them. People need to know we’re concerned about them more than our church’s bottom line. The kingdom of God is always bigger than our little corner of it.

 

Set the Table

A couple of months ago my wife and I got to do a couple of longer hikes in the Rocky Mountains. To save money and time, we decided to pick up Subway sandwiches on our way each day and eat them in the car before hitting the trails. It was so much fun eating sandwiches and other, primarily unhealthy, snacks picnic-style because there was fresh air, a beautiful view, my wife, and no real expectations or civilized rules regarding how or what I ate. I didn’t have to eat my sandwich before my gummy bears, keep my elbows off the table, or use my forks in the correct order… I mean how many forks can a person possibly need to eat a meal?

Another memorable meal was when I was in college. As a Public Relations class heading towards graduation we went to a conference to rub elbows with some possible future employers, and “professionals” in the field. After that conference there was an elaborate meal with waiters, multiple courses, fine dishware, and tons of utensils. The etiquette and expectations were high and completely different than my previous example.

As a kid we didn’t get out the classy dishware often, probably because my mom was afraid we would break it, and we would, or maybe because we didn’t have any? I’m not sure… but both of those examples paint a picture of my point, the way the table is set can determine the expectations for the meal.

Think about it! The dishware is not the reason you sat down at the table… the food was! But the place settings can determine the context and direction the meal will take.

As worship leaders, we set the mood for what is expected for the worship experience for the majority of the congregation. Obviously, there will always be those who are bold or mature in their faith who we don’t need to bring to the throne because they are already there. But for the majority of the church, we set the table and the layout for what is generally expected during a worship service. We can be the examples of what kind of worshipers we are called to be. I know that a meal with fine china versus a picnic will have two different moods… both are fine and enjoyable, but different. In the same way, a small group setting with an acoustic guitar has a much different feel than a Sunday morning service with a full band. Both are great and both can be incredibly powerful times of worship, but they are different styles. The table for each scenario is set differently.

As Pastors and leaders we are called to do the prep work through prayer, devotion, study, and thought to find out what message we want to convey to our congregation, what place setting and context we want to put before them. I once heard a quote that went like this,

Worship ministry is not about telling people where to go, but about leading them as you go there yourself.

Every week I try to encourage this mindset in the way our team leads. Whether the position is deserved or not, if you are onstage or have a role on the worship team, you are seen as a leader. What you do dictates to the majority of the congregation what is acceptable or inappropriate for the service.

However, as worship leaders, we can’t make the congregation do anything they don’t want to do. Just like a table-setter or host of a meal, I can bring you the finest dishes and cups, decorate the table extravagantly with candles, and set out fancy silverware, but I can’t make you eat the food or even like it, and I shouldn’t try to… that is not my job. If our goal is to lead people to worship and we begin to judge our services based on how many people raise their hands, we will become very effective manipulators. If we take a close look at Scripture, however, we can see that isn’t our job. In Psalm 23, God Himself does nothing more than prepare a table for David in the presence of his enemies, and it is David’s choice whether or not he will partake in the “meal.”

That Psalm says,

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What good is an elaborate meal with a way to eat it? Table-setting is about giving people the tools to eat the meal. Likewise, it is our job to prepare the setting for worship and then get out of the way.

I imagine that our experiences are often like Moses’s after he came down from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19.

Exodus 19:7-17 says,

So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.  And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

 

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

 

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.

In Exodus 19 Moses had a literal mountaintop experience with God and was told to go down and tell the people to prepare themselves for worship… to prepare to have an experience with the Almighty God. Then on the third day, he led them up on the mountain so they might worship God.

Do we realize that when we worship we do so standing before an Almighty God?

One time I was exploring an old train tunnel with a buddy and once we got inside we were immersed in total darkness. As we trudged through the mud and water trying to catch a glimpse of the light emerging from the other side time seemed to drag on and on. After an hour or so I asked, “Have you been here before?” My trust had wavered over time and my primary concern was that he was experienced in the path we decided to take.

As many worship leaders, Pastors, or “creatives” do, we put a lot of time, prayer, and effort into our weekly services. We map out the flow of the songs so there aren’t any distractions, and we tie them together with the topic or theme we are trying to convey. As Moses did, we lead people up the mountain. But do you think the Israelites would have trusted Moses and followed him up the mount had he not gone before them already? He was experienced… he had been there before!

I highly doubt that Moses would have held the trust of the Israelites had he not first been to the mountain himself and stood before God. You cannot lead someone where you have not been yourself.

It is easy to gauge a service by how well the band played, how the tech team did, and if the congregation sang loudly or only a few people raised their hands. I fall victim to this mentality quite often, but leading worship is centered around trust in God. Craig Groeschel once said,

If we blame ourselves when things go poorly, then we will be tempted to credit ourselves when things go right.

The act of table-setting can be scary.

But we can do nothing more than that. So as you plan your service this week, think about what table you are trying to set. We lead our congregation to the table, not by pointing a finger, but by saying, “Come alongside me as we go together.”

A Call to Share

Studies show that one in five Americans don’t believe in a deity. Many of you might look at those numbers somewhat optimistically… but when compared to the numbers the Hartford Institute of Religion Research have on church attendance the real issue begins to show it’s head. The numbers on church attendance show that more than 40 percent of Americans “say” they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20 percent are actually in church. In other words, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends and then answering differently on questionnaires or polls. Those same Americans “believe” in a deity… but their beliefs aren’t impacting their actions or decisions.

Psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University has said,

The large declines in religious practice among young adults are also further evidence that millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history.

That’s a scary thought… but a harsh reality. How do we right this ship?

Matthew 28:19-20 is a passage referred to as the Great Commission that we are familiar with. It says,

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Evangelism was born with a simple command from the risen Jesus to “go.”

Our task is as Believers is well defined: outreach. Our territory is well laid out: the world. Our message is plain: Jesus. And fortunate enough for us all we need is made available: “behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

No congregation, no pastor, and no Christian can afford to ignore the call of evangelism. 2 Timothy 4:5, says,

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In this passage we can see the apostle Paul writing to the young pastor Timothy, affirming that the work of the evangelist is inseparable from gospel ministry.

Christian missiologist Ed Stetzer has said,

It’s essential to understand that, regardless of our personal comfort level, we are called to share our faith because Christianity is a missionary faith. Despite the change in our culture and the way our faith is regarded, Christians are commanded to tell people about Jesus. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus called fishermen as his first disciples and told them he would make them “fishers of men.”

His disciples are still called to be fishers of men.

Even in our multi-faith environment, this calling should not be offensive to those of other faiths or no faith at all. Evangelism does not mean coercion. We can and should respect each other and strive for tolerance across varying beliefs, but that does not require pretending those differences do not exist. One of the core beliefs of Christianity is that Christianity should be propagated.

It isn’t necessary for every Christian to rent a stadium to proclaim the gospel to thousands. Most Christians can gain a hearing for the gospel while exchanging life stories at the coffee shop, taking a meal to a hurting family or standing for justice in an unjust world.

What evangelism requires is that when we care for a friend or speak out for a cause, we tell others that our faith is the reason. We tell them the good news that was told to us.

Evangelism can be defined as the person-to-person outreach of believers to nonbelievers with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the act of leading those who do not believe to repentance and to acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. All too common is the notion that this work belongs to the pastor alone, but the fact that the pastor is called to lead does not relegate the work of evangelism exclusively to them. So… you might be asking, “How can I be a successful evangelist?” Let’s think together!


Be Ready.

Having traveled playing music and been around musicians off all ages and genres I always find it interesting to see what an artist is like when they are off the stage. Many of them aren’t at all like they appear to be on stage. Sometimes in the hours leading up to the show you can watch them physically and mentally prepare and morph into what their fans expect. If you were to catch them “off guard” and throw them up on stage early they might not be able to perform to the best of their ability and give the people what they want.

The first key to successful evangelism is to always be ready to evangelize! 2 Timothy 4:2 says,

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.

Successful evangelism is not seasonal. Nowhere in Scripture is there even a hint that evangelism should be a seasonal endeavor. On the contrary, Acts 2:46-47 indicates that accessions to the truth occurred daily. That passage says,

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The church must remain true to the Great Commission and rescue evangelism from the realm of the “occasional” and anchor it where it belongs: in the down-to-earth, ongoing, daily life of the congregation. Evangelism is not something that may be turned on and off like a light switch. It is a year-round way of life mandated by God to invite “whosoever will” to come into God’s kingdom.

If we are to be ready “in and out of season” then we are going to have to have the Word of God “dwelling in us richly” because we know that Romans 10:17 says,

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Being prepared for successful evangelism is rooting ourselves in a healthy biblical theology. God is passionate in His desire to save. No matter how much we may “psych” ourselves up for evangelism, unless our understanding is rooted in the reality of God’s unquenchable desire to save, His ability to save, and His purpose to employ us in the saving mission, we run the risk of leaving many of the vast resources God has provided to His people unused, which will leave us disheartened or dissatisfied.

A healthy biblical theology will guide us to a complete dependence on God for the mysterious work of conversion that He alone can accomplish.

We must be always ready by being always dependent on God, his Word, and the resources that He provides.


Be Present.

In Colossians 4:5-6 Paul tells the church to,

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Paul isn’t just saying evangelism is our responsibility; he’s telling us to do it “in person” and wisely, “making the best use of the time.” Unfortunately, to a lot of us evangelism can seem like an out of body experience because we aren’t comfortable with or “present” in the moment.

I’m reminded of the more passive Christian who “checks” evangelism off their list by wearing a “trendy” Jesus t-shirt, hat, or WWJD bracelet while secretly hoping that nobody acknowledges it, or that it doesn’t create an evangelistic opportunity (although I never have seen that happen). Or, on the alternative side I think of the zealous Facebook Christian who posts Bible verses, Christian memes, or might troll statuses and pages in order to start conversations to defeat arguments, while losing people in the process.

Don’t allow the comment section to become the new street corner. 

Matthew 6:5 says,

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

There are only 3 ways of viewing time: past, present, and future. We must evangelize in the present. The above approaches are foolish and not “present” because they treat people like projects to be completed, or arguments to be won and not persons to be loved. It is looking at what they could be in the future instead of what they are now.

Have you ever been on the other end of an evangelistic project? Perhaps from a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon at your door. You don’t feel loved; you feel used, like a customer being pressured into a sale. Go to any restaurant around with a wad of cash for tip money and you will find someone willing to be your “friend,” go empty handed and see the difference.

In the above passage out of Colossians 4 Paul says, “know how you ought to answer each person.” This means that most of our Gospel explanations will be different, not canned. It also implies that we are present and listening in our evangelism. How can we know how to respond to each person, if we don’t truly know each person? This advocates a present and relational evangelism strategy fueled by the love for people with “no strings attached.”

When Francis Schaeffer was asked how he would spend an hour with a non-Christian, he said,

I would listen for fifty-five minutes, and then, in the last five minutes I would have something to say.

Evangelism is not a program but a way of life. For each of us it is an opportunity each day to witness to others about the power of the crucified, risen, and soon-coming Lord.


Be Committed.

What’s the difference between wisdom and knowledge? Wisdom comes with a requirement of gray hair!

In Colossians 4 Paul isn’t just telling us evangelism is personal; he’s telling us to do it with wisdom. Wisdom possesses more than knowledge; it expresses knowledge through understanding. In evangelism another word for this is love.

By many peoples standards love is inefficient. It slows down long enough to understand people and their objections to the gospel, and views them as more than projects. Love recognizes people are complex, and meets them in their need: suffering, despair, indifference, confusion, etc…

A successful evangelist is committed for the long haul.

Unfortunately the “fast facts” way of evangelism that many of us have been “trained” in for a long time is ineffective and almost seen as an insult anymore. Rehearsing a memorized fact, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins,” isn’t walking in wisdom even though the whole statement is truth.

We need to explain and display these important truths not simply assert them, and that takes commitment and relationships. It takes a love for people.

We need to see evangelism as a long-term endeavor. Stop “checking the list” and defeating others with your knowledge of the Gospel and your machine gun mouth. Slow down and practice listening, and most importantly… love them for who they are and not for who they could be! Most conversions are not the result of a single, point-in-time conversation, but the culmination of a personal process that includes doubt, reflection, gospel witness, love, and the work of the Holy Spirit, and those things take time!

Don’t feel pressured by numbers. Successful evangelism is measured by faithfulness to the task. If faithfulness is measured by numbers, then Noah would probably be considered a failure. Noah started building the ark when he was 480-years old. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:7 that Noah moved with fear,

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Prior to the Great Flood the earth had never flooded in that manner (some would even argue that it had never rained, see Genesis 2:5-6 and Hebrews 11:7, but I do not wish to enter into that conversation); yet God told Noah He was going to flood the earth with rain. Now when God gives Noah the command to do this, it is 120 years until the Flood. This is what you would call a long-term project. Noah preached the Word of God, gave warnings to the people, and was ignored and ridiculed. Only his family boarded that Ark.

We learn from the experience of Noah that faithful evangelism doesn’t so much have to do with the numbers and response as it has to do with proclaiming God’s message boldly out of obedience and love.

In sum, if you evangelize apart from love you will be holistically unsuccessful. With love comes patience, and that means we are evangelists for the long term.


In conclusion, we are all called to be evangelists. We will all be presented with differing opportunities and platforms. Many of us will see different “measurable” successes. The parable of the seed falling in different kinds of soil puts things in-perspective for us. Inevitably, the word that we proclaim or teach falls, like the sower’s seed, on a variety of surfaces. That is why successful evangelism cannot be linked exclusively to numbers. A great part of the success is that we have simply delivered the message faithfully. Our task is especially to care for those who are represented by the good ground, and to continue to pursue the others in the hope that the ground of their hearts will soon be receptive to the seed.

Successful evangelism is well within the reach of every person. Paul’s admonition to young Timothy to do the work of an evangelist is framed in a context of a call to faithfulness, consistency, and longsuffering. The evangelist who has these qualities will succeed.

And remember, don’t put pressure on yourself; conversion is in God’s hands. We just get to share the incomparable news of Jesus!