You can read the previous post here.
I am concerned now about what motivates us to do evangelism. In other words, if I were to sit down with a teenager and ask them, “Why should you evangelize?” I wonder what responses I would get:
- What is evangelism?
- (With shrugged shoulders) I don’t know.
- Because I heard I should do it in the lesson or something.
- Because it says I should in the bible.
- Because a whole lot of people are going to hell if I don’t and it would be my fault because I never said anything.
- Because the gospel is an invitation for something beautiful.
Ok, that last one was mine but I am sure you have heard multiple reasons why you should evangelize and some of them are good and some of them are less than helpful. I would like to at least entertain that our desire to evangelize is related to two factors: 1) our understanding of the Scriptures (and our response to that understanding) and 2) our perception or view of the world.
I cringe when someone tells me that I need to evangelize because at judgment day I don’t want to be standing next to my friend and them asking me why I never mentioned Jesus to them as they go down the vortex to hell. First of all, who said we are going to talk to other people at judgment day? Secondly, God chooses different people to plant seeds, to water but only God increases. Thirdly, what about that person I met on the airplane? Am I going to answer for that for not offering them the invitation because I wanted to sleep instead?
The call to evangelize in Scripture:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
We are told to Go, while making disciples, while baptizing and while teaching. That is the call to the disciples Jesus worked with but it seems implied that this is not only a contextual command but an overarching command to all disciples bearing the name of Jesus. We simply “Go.” That is the call. Whenever, wherever, whoever, however we simply “Go.” What I have noticed though is that students don’t follow leaders from information they follow them by imitation (heard this quoted somewhere but have seen it true in my ministry). Show me a youth group kid and I will be able to tell you the personality of their youth minister. Hence, Main Street kids tend to be weird, cynical, prophetic, fun (we have been accused of being “rowdy”) and hopeful. Which describes yours truly! So here is the deal:
EVANGELISM STARTS IN YOUR LEADERSHIP!!! ELDERS, MINISTERS AND MENTORS. YOU CANNOT LEAD A PERSON TO A PLACE YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN.
Remember that. So the call to “Go” rings forth from your leadership. You can have all of the resources imaginable (I recommend Dare 2 Share) and all of the events under the sun but if the culture of your ministry is not evangelistic then no amount of teaching will ever accomplish your task.
Secondly, We must perceive the world and look at it differently. We should feel broken at the people who are not participating in the kingdom of God. Our hearts should break when we see marriages fail, companies plunder, people turn to gods and not God, and all of the injustices we see. We must look at things differently. In the first Lord of the Rings movie: The Fellowship of the Ring it is apparent that everything has changed for the hobbits and for the world and the longing to go back has been trumped by a new task, one that is forged in fire and fraught with despair. The royal elf and Lady of Light Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, says these words about what has happened:
The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.
Leaders, students and all of us need to get to this point where we say, “The world has changed and is forever different and everything we see is now filtered through the lens of the gospel and we will forever try to live out the call to reach out as laborers in the kingdom of God.”