Should We Evangelize?

Currently, I am part of a small group that is exploring the topic / issue of evangelism. The curriculum we are using, which I disagree with at many points, attempts to redefine evangelism (what it is and how we do it) and even rescue it from some of the modern day crazy preachers. Actually, the driving theory behind the studies has to do with the idea of "servant evangelism". The concept is not to be a Ray Comfort, soap-box, type of evangelist or even a Benny Hinn type one, but rather a servant one. So, the way to evangelize is to simply share the love of God through acts of kindness to people, in other words, to serve them. The Church where I am currently serving, does a whole lot of this, which I like. It is a much less confrontational and a much less guilt-tripping way of sharing the Good News of God's love; it's quite different than traditional ways of "evangelizing" per se. Still, some might find these types of things frustrating or offensive. What do you think? Should we even eavngelize (keeping in mind that the Greek word "euangellion", our English equivalent "Gospel" simply means, to share "Good News")? Or, is there another way to make God's love known to people that you prefer?


  1. "Should we even evangelize ...?"

    We are commanded to make disciples. Discipleship implies making the Good News explicit at some point, does it not?

    As you know, I feel strongly about this because heavy-handed attempts to convert me drove me to avoid faith conversations for decades.

    It was necessary that I be around loving, nonjudgemental, non-pressuring Christians long enough to develop respect and trust. This respect and trust was the foundation that made their modelling and testimony effective.

    I believe that servanthood is a very effective way to lay this foundation. At some point one must discern when to explicitly share the gospel. Hopefully one is doing all this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who will alert us to the time and provide the opportunity.

    I'd love to see you turn this into a series that engages in more detail the specific issues you're wrestling with.


  2. A related point is that nowadays "sharing the gospel" is often not simply a matter of telling someone about Jesus for the first time. IME it's more often a matter of gradually and delicately helping them disentangle the true good news from all the hurtful baggage they associate with it due to their earlier encounters with religion.

    If you have enough of a relationship that you are demonstrating as well as explaining the fruit of the Spirit, then you are giving them the tools to discern what was/is true vs false in their past and their present experience.

  3. Well I thin evangelism involves both word and deed. I do not think words alone or deed alone will work but both in conjunction are effective for winning people to Christ.

  4. Brian,
    Thanks for commenting. Another thing, I wonder if we should continue using the language of "winning" people to Christ? What are "we" winning first of all? Does that make them feel like "losers"? Is the game or competition imagery helpful in our culture? Blessings bro,

  5. wsk,
    boy, i don't know if i can turn this into a series...we'll see. thanks for sharing about your experiences here!

    i agree that serving is much more effective than drilling or grilling people with the Gospel.

    your notion of sharing as a process instead of a one-moment thing goes well with the book we're following. i think many christians heretofore have viewed the "process" as not urgent enough. i also believe that once saved, always saved has contributed largely to it all. that makes me sad!!!

  6. Well, if we use the language of spiritual battle (e.g., Ephesians 6 and other text in which it explains the Lord trains people's hands for war and their fingers for battle... then we can call it winning.

    Otherwise we'll just call it pointing people to Christ.

    Either way it has to be done in both word and in deed.

  7. Brian,
    I'm not so sure that in Eph. 6, where Paul is using warfare language that he is doing it necesarrily in the context of "evangelism" per se. It appears to me that he is adopting that language from the image of a Roman guard who is guarding him while he's in prison and that he's using it to subvert the notions of "magic" in Ephesus (see the Grk. Magical Papyrii, for example).

    Thus, I'm not so sure that I would use that language in "evangelizing". I think the imagery of "servanthood" or "serving" works better in this realm and was often used this way in the NT (e.g. serving the widows and poor is true religion, etc.).

    Another reason I don't like the warfare language or the "lost" langugage is because it paints an us vs. them narrative. I'm more conformtable witha reconciliation type of narrative. After all, when I think of servant evangelism, I remember that I am doing it to reconcile all things to the Creator through Christ. Paul certainly uses this language in the context of making the Good News known.

    Agree? Disagree?

    ...it does have to be done, you're certainly right...

    but the way it is done is just as important if not moreso. and our philosophies and theologies undergirding it are incredibly important!!!

  8. Certainly spiritual warfare isn't the only means of Christian witness. There is also the one you mentioned - service and also proclamation. Lots of different ways to describe evangelism.

  9. Brian,

    Hey, why do you have your site set up for wordpress bloggers to comment only? I tried to leave some comments but couldn't. BTW, I saw the Jesus Painter once and along with hundreds of others, got to help apply some random paint to his canvas, which, in the end, turned out to be an amazing portrait like the one in the video you posted. It was a great experience.

  10. I guess I didn't realize that about the comments (I am kind a stupid on these things) - I'll look it over and try to fix it.

    As to the warfare image in evangelism - I think it is valid at points - we have an enemy who seeks to defeat the purposes of our God and to destroy his people - this enemy wants to take as many as he can to his domain - when this happens some are lost others have to be "saved" in a sense. When the lost are getting saved than are we "winning" them to Christ?

  11. came across this while cleaning out the mailbox...

    you said:
    "Another reason I don't like the warfare language or the "lost" language is because it paints an us vs. them narrative. I'm more conformtable with a reconciliation type of narrative."

    I agree that reconciliation is key. The way i think about the warfare aspect is that it is against the powers that hold some people prisoner. Isaiah 61:1 comes to mind. the "them" is not the lost but the powers that strive to keep them from coming to faith.

  12. wsk,
    great point, very great point. sounds very walter winkish!