8. The Magnet
Spend a few minutes reviewing this series of studies on evangelism. What fresh insights have you gained? What suggestions do you have to make to the church council about how the congregation could perhaps be more effectively involved in love-based, felt-need evangelism?
Clarification of Terms
Before we leave this subject of evangelism we ought to clarify the terms evangelistic and evangelical. They are sometimes used as if they were interchangeable, but strictly speaking the words evangelism and evangelistic simply refer to the sharing of the Gospel, while the word Evangelical refers to a particular tradition within the Christian church, one which emphasizes the authority of the Scriptures.
Within that Evangelical Tradition there are those who insist on the verbal inerrancy of the Scriptures; who claim that the Bible is an authority in all matters, including science and history; who reject biblical scholarship and who can be identified as Fundamentalists. On the other hand there are Evangelicals who, while acknowledging the authority of the Bible, recognize that any particular text has to be read within its own historical context, that God spoke through individual personalities and that those personalities gave shape to the message. They see no conflict between science and biblical faith, recognizing that each is giving expression to its own particular truth, and they welcome the insights of biblical scholarship. There are many shades of Evangelical opinion between those two portraits.
Evangelism is by no means the preserve of Evangelicals. All Christians who seek to share the good news about Jesus Christ with others are engaged in evangelism.
Do you find this distinction between evangelism and Evangelicalism helpful? How important is it to make this distinction?
The drawing power of Christ.
Read John 12:27-32
All through history, since his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has been drawing people to himself, and he has been using people of faith as his agents.
As we share in the evangelistic task of the church we can do so with the knowledge that Christ has not lost his drawing power. Our primary task is not to promote our congregation, nor to advance the cause of Christianity, but to bear witness to him who draws us and is seeking to draw all people to himself.
Read John 8:12
The light is shining. Is it shining through us? How can we allow his light to shine more fully and clearly through us out into the world?
The action of God’s Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the real evangelist. No one can convert another person to Christ. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. But God makes use of our human testimony.
The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives and hearts of people everywhere. Sometimes they give way to his leading, often they resist him, but God goes before us as we venture forth in faith-sharing. God prepares the soil for the seed that will be sown.
Do you agree with the statement that no one can convert another person to Christ. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Talk about the idea that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives and hearts of people everywhere, even in people who have not heard about Jesus. How does this belief affect our evangelism?
Here are some passages that have a bearing on evangelism. Read and talk about them.
1 Corinthians 9:16-18
Give thanks for people who have been prepared to share the gospel with you and ask God to help you seize the opportunities that come your way for sharing the gospel with others.
Pray for our congregation, its small group ministry, its Natural Church Development program and its evangelistic impact on the people in the wider community.
Pray for each member in the group, giving thanks for each one.