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I Don’t Like Being Told To Do Evangelism!

28 September 2013 No Comment

Recently, a pastor and his elders met do discuss of how evangelism was going in their church.planning meeting

Over the past two years, they have been gradually implementing the 28 strategies which we as a ministry have developed.

These strategies help churches achieve, and maintain, evangelism momentum.

These strategies are crucial if a church wants to develop a culture of evangelism - if they want to have 100% of their people active in evangelism at least once a week on a regular basis.

Evangelism is defined as “the spread or proclamation of the gospel”.

That is to say, if someone in the church gave to a non-Christian just one www.biblein11.com card (for example) in the six days between two Sundays, they would be classed as ‘active.’ (i.e. spreading the gospel). If another person actually verbalized the gospel to a non-Christian, they too would be active. (i.e. proclaiming the gospel).

After a two year journey, what is the assessment of the pastor and elders of these 28 strategies?

  1. They want to continue to make evangelism the priority of the Church.  This is because they now believe that Biblically, the evangelisation of the world is the priority of the Church. That is to say, that it is the responsibility of the Church, and that means of all Christians, to ensure that every non-Christian on the earth hears and understands the gospel at least once.
  2. They want to strive to achieve 100% mobilization.
  3. They commend the resources they are using (especially the 28 strategies) and will continue to use/implement them.

However, there is one problem, and it is voiced by all the elders and the majority of the church, but not the pastor.

angry manThey don’t like being told to do evangelism!

How does the pastor know this?  He said “it was general feedback”.

The pastor was told that when evangelists (like me) and the churche’s Evangelism Team Leader (ETL – this is the person in a church who works with the pastor to achieve 100% mobilisation) speak about evangelism, the people and the elders get the feeling they are being told to do evangelism.

They literally hate this!

In protest, they fold arms, furrow the brow, pucker up the lips, dig in, and…smoke from the  ears.

They simple refuse to do evangelism when they feel like they are being told to do it.

They want the desire to do evangelism to be internally motivated (i.e. the work of the Holy Spirit), rather than external (i.e. a person telling them what to do) – so they say.

Or better still, they want to be able to decide when and if they want to do evangelism.

When I heard this, I became extremely interested.

I already had a feeling that this particular objection was running at epidemic levels in most churches (but is rarely voiced) and is one of the major reasons why the majority of people in most churches do not do evangelism.

I have two questions. Is this objection fair and reasonable?  What would the Bible say about it?

I think Jesus would dismiss it, and here are eight reasons why.

  1. Jesus is Lord. When we became Christians, we accepted Jesus as Lord, not just as our Saviour.    It is impossible to become a Christian and not accept Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10).  When we declared publically that “Jesus is Lord” at our point of conversion,  we were saying  “Jesus, your desires and goals and aims now become mine. From now on, I will unreservedly follow you whether I feel like it or not.” For example, Jesus commanded the disciples to “go into all the world and proclaim Jesus is Lord 2the gospel” (Mark 16:15) and since we are His disciples, He is commanding us as well.  If the disciples had said to Jesus, after He had given this command (or any other command) “We are not going because we don’t feel internally motivated to do so” He would interpret this as a sign that they were not His disciples and He was not their Lord.  Remember in Matthew 7:22, Jesus said there will be people who will come to Him at judgment saying “Lord, Lord etc” and he will say to them “…away from me, I never knew you.”   In other words, it’s only the people who have made Him their Lord, and this means those who obey His commands, who are truly His. It is my observation that very very few of us make Jesus Lord on a daily / hourly basis.  This is why Jesus said “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:14). Making Jesus Lord moment by moment is hard and painful, but this does not mean it’s impossible.  We have the Holy Spirit to encourage, inspire, and empower us.
  2.  Jesus is God and our creator.  Jesus is God and our Creator, and we are created beings.  Who is greater? The Creator or the created ones?  If our creator commands something, who are we to hesitate to obey, claiming we don’t feel internally motivated?  Wouldn’t that be interpreted as the created one telling the Creator what to do?  I think so. Isaiah would agree. He says “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:9)
  3. Church leaders have a responsibility to pass on to their flock what Jesus taught. Jesus said “what I whisper in your ear, shout it from the roof tops” (Matthew 10:27).  That is to say, He was telling the disciples to boldly and unashamedly declare shout from rooftopsHis commands to everyone, especially fellow believers, and to not hold back or water them down.   A true leader, therefore, exhorts, encourages, pleads and even tells the flock to do what is plainly written in scripture.   If a command goes out and the flock responds by saying “we don’t like being told to do such and such command of Jesus” they need to take it up with the their Creator.  The pastor in today’s pulpit who is lovingly and graciously telling the saints to do evangelism is the mouth piece of the Creator, who is Jesus.
  4. The disciples didn’t object to Jesus telling them to evangelise: When Jesus sent out the 12 (Matthew 10) and the 72 (Luke 10) to preach the gospel, there is no record of any of them objecting to being told to go and do evangelism.  The Lord commanded, and they went.   They obeyed immediately and completely because they knew Who it was who was giving the instruction.  Likewise, to those who are born again, the instructions in the Bible are the very words of God. This is why we call the Bible “The Word Of God.”
  5. Jesus calls us to overcome our feelings in order to obey Him:  Jesus said “Unless a man picks up His Cross daily and follows after me, He cannot be my disciple” (Luke 9:23).  In light of our discussion here, what is Jesus saying?  He is saying that no take up crossone likes being told what to do. Everyone has things to do that they don’t feel like doing.  But when we do the things we don’t feel like doing, that we don’t want to do, that is, the “hard” commands of God, we are picking up our Cross.  Taking up a cross is painful. It is a symbol of death to self will.  As Jesus said to His Father “Not my will, but yours will be done.” (Luke 22:42). When it comes to evangelism we too need to say “Not my will, but yours be done Jesus.”
  6. Every true Christian ought to already be internally motivated to do evangelism: I have been involved in evangelism for 30 years.  It is my observation that deep down every Christian knows that they have been commanded by Jesus to do evangelism.  Where did they get this knowledge? They have received it via the Holy Spirit by simply reading their Bibles.   No one who reads his or her Bible faithfully and regularly will fail to get this idea.  That is to say, God will speak to them over and over internally.  This being so, you’d think everyone in the Church would be active in evangelism.  Not so.  Research shows only 2% of the Church ‘do’ evangelism.  So when you or I come along and tell them to do evangelism, why do they object? After all, we are only re-iterating what God has already been saying to them (internally) for years.  Could it be that they just don’t like be reminded of a failing? Or they just don’t like having their conscience pricked? Or they don’t like the pain which comes from picking up one’s cross? If so, the problem lies not with the messenger, but with the receiver of the message.  I can only conclude that the hearts of those who object to be being told to do evangelism have become hardened.   What other conclusion is there?
  7. The Holy Spirit is constantly motivating all genuine believers to do evangelism: All genuine believers are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). It is impossible to be a Christian and not be in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 1:8, the Holy Spirit was given to motivate, and empower believers to do evangelism.  The Holy Spirit does not sleep, or go off duty.  He is not savedconstantly motivating those who in whom He lives to do evangelism.  So how is it that those who say “I object to someone telling me I must evangelise” have not already been internally empowered and motivated to do evangelism by the Holy Spirit who is living in them?  Where is the blockage? Are they resisting the promptings and empowering of the Spirit within them? What can we conclude? Either they have hardened their hearts to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as I have already mentioned, or they are not in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, and are therefore not saved.
  8. Paul tells Timothy to do evangelism: Some have asked “Where in the Bible do we see Christians (i.e. someone other than God) telling other Christians to do evangelism?” 2 Timothy 4:5 is one place. Paul, a man, told Timothy, another man, to do evangelism, and there is no record of Timothy objecting.  Timothy did not tell Paul he didn’t want to do evangelism because he didn’t feel internally motivated.  Timothy simply recognised that Paul was only faithfully passing on to Him a command of Jesus, and both men had made Jesus Lord as conversion.

fair enoughWhen it’s NOT Ok for one Christian to tell another Christian to do evangelism.

Lest you think that those who object to being told to do evangelism have it all wrong, let me make three final points in their favour.

First, if we as leaders give tub thumping, rousing sermons which exhort, encourage, and even tell Christians to evangelise but fail to give them cutting edge, road tested, contemporary tools/ resources, and training (and not just one off “weekend” training but on-going training ) and strategies to maintain evangelistic momentum, we are making a fatal mistake. All we are doing is discouraging the church from doing evangelism. How so? It creates an unbearable frustration in the minds and hearts of the people in the pew who are listening to our sermons exhorting them to evangelise if we don’t at the same time give them the training and resources to do the job.   The vast majority want to obey God and their pastor to do evangelism.  But in their hearts they cry “How can I obey if you don’t show me how! Give me the tools! Give me the training! Give me the strategies to keep me going in evangelism! Help me!”

If we don’t provide the tools and resources when we preach about evangelism, those listening will despair, and so begin to develop a hard heart towards evangelism.

Second, if we as leaders are exhorting, encouraging, and even telling our fellow Christians to do evangelism, we must do so gently, humbly, winsomely, and graciously, out of a heart of great love.   If the flock feels whipped, rather than lovingly wooed, they have every right to object to being told to do evangelism.

Third, if we as church leaders are telling our people to do evangelism, but we are not doing it ourselves on a regular basis, we become a stumbling block for those listening.  Those listening will quite rightly say “Why is he or she telling me to do something he or she is not doing? What a hypocrite!”

On the other hand, it’s just wonderful when new testimonies of our evangelism encounters are regularly weaved into our weekly sermons (and I don’t mean recalling some event two years ago when we did some evangelism).

These three objections are therefore quite fair.

Conclusion?

It’s entirely biblical for one Christian to tell another Christian to do evangelism.

On one hand, and as a general rule, it would be fair to say that those who object to being told to do evangelism are either Christians who have hardened their hearts or they are not Christians.

However, there are some exceptions to this general rule.  Even genuine believers have a right to object to being told to do evangelism if those doing the telling:

  1. are not doing so in a loving, gracious, humble, winsome way.
  2. do not provide tools, resources, on-going training, and strategies to maintain momentum.
  3. Are not doing evangelism themselves.

If these three conditions are not met, even genuine believers have a right to object to being told to do evangelism by their leaders.

Lessons?

Before we proclaim /teach in our churches about  Jesus’ command to do evangelism,  we must prepare the people to receive the command. That is to say, we as leaders mustprepare for success prepare the ground. What does this mean, practically? It means at least seven things:

  1. Take a series on Sunday mornings to teach everyone in the church what it means to make Jesus Lord.
  2. Take a series on Sunday mornings to teach everyone in the church about the Bible: why we trust it, why it’s the Word of God, why it is free from errors, why its infallible, how we know it has not been changed over the centuries, how we know what was first written down was accurate, and why we must live under its authority.
  3. Take a series on Sunday mornings to teach everyone in the church on what it means to “take up ones Cross”
  4. Take a series on Sunday mornings to teach everyone in the church about heaven and hell. What they are like and who is going there?
  5. Take a series on Sunday mornings about the plight of the lost.  Who is lost and headed for hell, and who is not.  Define the boundaries clearly.  Sadly, most Christians today really believe all people in all religions are destined for heaven, as long as they are sincere in their beliefs about God.  Others believe that God will save all those who have never heard of Jesus. These and other myths must be discussed and rebutted.
  6. Have the leaders in a church learn to do evangelism regularly before the general church is trained, so that when the church is trained, they are one step ahead.  In this way, the church won’t be able to say of their leaders “why are they asking us to do something they are not doing themselves?”
  7. Teach everyone in your church how to have a powerful devotional life i.e. Spiritual disciplines.

These seven points, when executed with love and grace, will do three things: they will soften the hearts of those who have become hard hearted towards evangelism;  they will  flush out the unsaved in your church; and they will mightily encourage the soft hearted genuine believers to hunger for training in evangelism.

Pastors and leaders – if you don’t do this preparatory work (i.e points 1-7 above), your “one off” weekend evangelism seminar will Critical_Thinkingcreate some excitement, but the fizz won’t last.  You’ll only waste everyone’s precious time and resources.  Worse still, you’ll inoculate people against doing evangelism.  They will reason “We did some evangelism training and nothing lasted. Let’s not try that again.”

If you want to mobilise your whole church for evangelism, and sustain them in it,  you must do three things:  a) prepare your church for evangelism b) teach your church how to do evangelism c) provide on-going strategies to maintain evangelism momentum. All three phases are critically important. Watch this video on the 28 strategies.

Leave any one of these three phases out, and you’ll have as much chance of creating a culture of evangelism in your church as the Pope has of becoming a Protestant.

Final Question: “If you are not currently active in evangelism, try and establish the reason.”

There are only three possibilities:

  1. You are a soft hearted genuine believer who desperately wants to evangelise, but you have never been given the tools and training to get going, or the strategies to maintain momentum.  If this is you, we can help you.
  2. You a genuine believer who has become hard hearted towards evangelism.  Perhaps your pastor has told you in an unloving, dictatorial, ungracious way to do evangelism? Perhaps your pastor has told you do to evangelism but you know he is not doing it himself? i.e. he’s being hypercritical and thus a stumbling block for you? Perhaps you’ve never been provided with the tools, training, and strategies to “do” evangelism.  Perhaps all three apply to you!  If this is you, we can help you.
  3. Or are you a church goer who is not saved? If this is you, go and tell your minister / pastor and they will show you the next steps.

But don’t do nothing.

Now there is something to think about…..

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