An Evangelism Professor’s Obstacles to Evangelism

I’m a professor of evangelism, but that doesn’t mean I find evangelism easy to do. I know that fear is often a cause for not doing evangelism, but I don’t think fear is my primary issue. No, my obstacles are sometimes far more subtle:

1. I still live in a Christian bubble. I’ve recognized this tendency for a long time, but here’s where I’ve blown it: I’ve given myself more credit for addressing it than I deserve. I still find my comfort zone among believers.

2. It’s easy to equate my pulpit ministry with doing evangelism. When I preach the gospel every Sunday, it doesn’t take long to convince myself that I do evangelism every weekend. In fact, I can evangelize a bunch of people at once this way . . . .

3. I still take Jesus for granted. I wrote the book Nobodies for Jesus to address this issue, but I’ve since learned that fighting against this tendency is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment work. None of us, regardless of our ministry positions, defaults into godly wonder. 

4. I’m so busy it’s hard to find time to be with lost people—or actually, people in general. I work more than one job – all that are ministry-related. What I must admit now is how I’ve allowed ministry busyness to get in the way of knowing people to be reached.

5. I can easily equate my missions work with doing evangelism. I love work on the mission field, and I always look forward to sharing the gospel around the world. I cannot, however, let that work give me permission to neglect my responsibility to go to my neighborhood.

6. I forget about the reality of hell. Very early in my pastoral ministry, God broke me over the death of a non-believing friend. That event took place a long time ago. Too long ago, apparently.  

7. I’m naturally introverted. I’m not the one to begin most conversations. My natural tendency is to wait until someone else starts the conversation – and non-believers seldom do that!

8. I convince myself that multiplying laborers is better than my personally doing something. “If I train hundreds of students per year,” I think, “that’s more effective than my personally doing things.” In general, I think that statement’s true – but it’s distracting and deceptive if I use that excuse not to do evangelism personally. 

9. Even though I know better, I sometimes get frustrated with God’s delays in answering my prayers about nonbelievers. I really do know better (see these posts about God’s saving my dad and my mom after many years of prayer), but I sometimes let the enemy whisper too loudly in my ear while I’m waiting. 

10. I don’t have enough prayer warriors praying Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4 for me. If the apostle Paul needed believers asking the Lord to give him opportunity, boldness, and clarity in sharing, I surely do, too. With this post, I make the commitment to fix this neglect in my life. 

Please continue to pray for me as God breaks me and remolds me for the sake of his name and the good of others.

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Chuck Lawless
Chuck Lawless

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.