A Return to Promiscuous Evangelism

This might be the only time I’ll write about the benefits of being promiscuous.

You’ve probably only used the word to discuss something much different than evangelism. But the definition demonstrates that its meaning extends far beyond our normal usage. To be promiscuous means “demonstrating or implying an undiscriminating or unselective approach; indiscriminate or casual.”

And when it comes to evangelism, we need a lot more of that.

Shift Toward Apologetics

In a time of increasing hostility toward Christianity, believers’ efforts toward evangelism have shifted from promiscuous, freely sharing the gospel, to apologetic, defending the Christian faith.

That’s important, and will continue, but the need for apologetics must not lead to a de-emphasis of sharing the gospel with as many people, and as often as possible.

Apologetics can help alter the perception of the church as anti-intellectual. However, we see in church history when the pendulum swings more toward apologetics, evangelism can be de-emphasized.

In other words, when we focus solely on defending or explaining the gospel we often forget to share it.

Instead, we need more apologetics and promiscuous evangelism.

Lacking Gospel Confidence

Many believers hesitate to share the gospel due to a lack of confidence in the gospel. They are unsure of what the gospel actually is and how they can relate it to culture. This uncertainty has led to an engagement in reaffirming beliefs and strengthening of apologetics.

This has led many Christians to read great books like Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. While this book and others like it hold information Christians must know and feel comfortable explaining, we must not behave as if every Christian should have philosophical training before talking to someone about Jesus.

Read the book (it’s great) along with other great books, but in the meantime, be evangelistically promiscuous.

We must return to a place of supreme confidence in the gospel that saves. When we grasp that, it naturally leads to promiscuous evangelism. Only then will we experience the most abundant gospel sowing.

No, you don’t have to read another book to share the gospel. You just have to decide to be more indiscriminate and start sharing it freely.

Encouraging Passion

I recognize that promiscuous evangelism is a simple method and we do not live in a simple time, but the church needs believers who are so excited about who Jesus is and what he has done that they simply have to tell everybody. We have lost that in our churches because of cultural shifts.

Instead, we believe that unless we can have a long conversation there’s no reason to share the gospel at all. Some people may need a long discussion to hash out questions they have. But for many people, believers just need to regain the passion for sharing how Christ changed their lives.

For too many, evangelism left the coffee shop or the water cooler and entered a book.

We need the book, more today than ever, but we also really need the confidence and boldness to share the gospel with everyone.

Recognizing the Necessity

We will see a passion for evangelism when individuals find it necessary to tell others about Jesus. Sadly, I’ve had to help some pastors understand this and teach them how to share the gospel promiscuously.

In an effort to change this, one seminary requires its students to share Christ with at least one person per week. The students must report their experience in chapel.

Some may think this is legalism run amok. But those students are naturally able to share the gospel for the rest of their lives. Thus, training in—not merely encouragement toward—promiscuous evangelism is essential to the success of their graduates.

I will take their way of doing evangelism over someone else’s way of not doing it at all.

Moving Past the Awkwardness

Sure, it is awkward at times.

When we talk about God, not just in some “big guy in the sky” way, people can get uncomfortable. If I bring Jesus into a conversation, I can immediately sense when the wince factor happens. If you share your faith, you have experienced the, “Oh, here it comes” look and posture.

Yet, in trying to save themselves and others from discomfort many Christians have backed away from spreading the gospel. Christians must return to the simplicity of promiscuous evangelism.

Apologetics tools and books can help. But on the most basic level, only when their relationship with Christ is the most important thing in their lives will Christians talk about it as much as they talk about their sports team or their new electronic gadget.

Christians have compartmentalized religion in such a way that we talk freely about it among one segment of society (the ones who already know Christ) and then shield it from the rest (the ones who don’t). We must guard against such compartmentalization.

Great movements of God occur when his people cannot cease talking about him—especially among the people who do not yet know him. We need Christians who are telling as many people as they can about Jesus.

Evangelism is one area of life where we should be as promiscuous as possible.

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Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham distinguished chair of church, mission and evangelism at Wheaton College and the Wheaton Grad School, where he also oversees the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.

Ed Stetzer
Ed Stetzerhttps://edstetzer.com/

Ed Stetzer is the editor-in-chief of Outreach magazine, host of the Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast, and a professor and dean at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He currently serves as teaching pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, California.

He is also regional director for Lausanne North America, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by and writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. He is the founding editor of The Gospel Project, and his national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.