What Evangelism Is and Is Not

Are you sharing an experience or trying to close a deal?

You were born again for evangelism. Jesus said if we follow him, we will be fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). He also said we would receive the Holy Spirit and be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). Both of these passages remind us that Christians should be evangelists. Our witness to others, however, should be as a satisfied customer, not a commissioned salesperson.

THE SALESPERSON STRATEGY

Consider this, a good salesman can sell you a car. When you walk onto a car lot, the salesman knows how to put you into a vehicle. You sit in the front seat while he points out the car’s features—its snazzy control center, entertainment system, network of cameras and sensors and heated seats. He pops the hood to show you its sleek, powerful, factory-polished engine, and points out the car’s many other desirable advantages and benefits. You might even kick the tires. He makes it sound irresistible, and you feel like you’d be a fool to say “No.”

Now, he probably believes in what he’s selling, and he may really want to get you the best car for the best price. However, he really has only one overarching desire: He wants to sell the car. And whether you buy this car or the next person buys it doesn’t really matter, as long as someone takes that vehicle off his lot and he gets credit for the sale.

THE SATISFIED CUSTOMER

Now, let’s say you decide to buy. You drive your new car to work. You’re happy with your purchase. You listen to the radio and enjoy the smooth ride and the new car smell. One of your co-workers walks over to you as you’re getting out and asks about your new car.

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You open the door and point out the same features and accessories the salesman did. But you’re not trying to sell your coworker on all these bells and whistles. You’re talking about why you love the car and why your friend might like it too.

PARTICIPATING IN THE MISSION

Evangelism is more like the office parking lot than the car dealership. You talk about what you’ve been blessed with. You share about your experiences. You tell a few of the things you understand but admit there’s plenty you still don’t understand. There’s no pressure to turn your friend into a buyer, and if he’s not interested, that’s fine. Even if he doesn’t like your new car, it’s fine. You like it, and you’re really satisfied with it. And in the future, if your friend does decide he’d like to know where you got such a good car, you’d certainly love talking with him about it and giving it your highest recommendation.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Just as the Father sent me, so do I send you” (John 20:21). God has given you the incredible opportunity to participate in his mission of reconciliation through announcing the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. Our lives have been changed by the gospel, and we are satisfied customers. We don’t share Christ with others in order to earn credit with God. We tell others of the hope, joy, forgiveness and purpose we’ve found in Jesus. We have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord.

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We love them, and we love him—our evangelism should be an effort to bring these two loves together.

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This post originally appeared on LifeWayVoices.com and is adapted from Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, 2nd ed. For more information about this book, free teaching resources, and bulk-buying discounts, go to BHAcademic.com/sharingjesus/