Matthew 28:18-19 8 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,
One word that seems to intimidate us is the word “Evangelism”. When we hear this word we have different perceptions of what it is and what it means. For some it invokes thoughts of those who are on the street corners or are in parks and public places shouting scriptures and provoking people by asking them “If you died tonight would you go to heaven?” Yes it is a valid question and it does lead some to conversation and others to arguments. Evangelism also may conjure up thoughts of old fashion tent revivals or stadiums filled with those who are attending events like Promise Keepers, Women of Faith, or similar events. It may also bring thoughts of the TV Evangelists and the plea for financial support with promises of God answering your prayers. Even our own Diocese, the Diocese of Central Florida, at the Diocesan convention this year with the “Say Yes to Jesus” revival was a form of evangelism by encouraging churches to extend invitations to those outside the church to attend. And probably the scariest thought of evangelism is going from door to door – whether to personally talk to someone or simply to hang an invitation flyer on the door knob in fear someone might come the door.
When I was in seminary the Seminary was hosting an event called “SpringFest”. It was an invitation to the people in town to come to the seminary to listen to music, enjoy a free hot dog, see skits, have your face painted and to hear about Jesus. As a student that semester in the Missions class, we were required to go two by two into town, knock on the door and personally invite people to come. If they were not there, then leave a flyer or door hanger. This was not something that was in my comfort zone but I did it. Another time when I was stationed in Germany in the 70’s, the military bases had tackle football teams that would compete against each other. At one of the home games our group had a hot dog booth and we also handed out tracks that told about Salvation. That one was a lot easier to do. And similarly in the past, St. Elizabeth’s has had a booth at the 4th of July Celebration in the park and handed out information about the church and Vacation Bible School.
There are many ways to evangelize. It is not as hard as one might think when we understand what Evangelism is. The word Evangelism comes from a Greek word that means “Good News” and Evangelism simply means sharing the “Good News” of God’s salvation through Jesus. Evangelism is not proselyting (trying to convert) it is simply sharing what God has done through Jesus for us, how God in working in our lives and the lives of others, sharing our testimony of what God has done by answering prayer or a blessing you have received. It is about sharing how God may have taken you through a rough patch and even if it did not end exactly how you wanted, it is knowing He was there walking with you and sustaining you through it all. It is about sharing “Godcidences” rather than calling them coincidences and giving God the credit and the glory.
It is also about sharing God’s Word and promises with others in our own lives and that these promises are also for them. It is as simple as praying for someone or as easy as giving them one of the hand-held wooden prayer crosses. The thing is, anyone can evangelize. We can invite someone to a church function like movie night. We can invite someone to a church dinner. We can invite children to Vacation Bible School. There are many ways to evangelize. When we do we can share God’s word with them.
Jesus taught His disciples for three years. Many people listened, some followed, some rejected. The disciples were given the power and authority to go into the world and share the “Good News” and so are we. When we learn through study, when we group, we grow in our knowledge and understanding; it makes it easier to share the “Good News” of God’s grace, love and mercy for us and for the world. Evangelism is sharing the “Good News” both in word and in deed. Surprising as it may seem to some, St. Francis never said “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words”. On the contrary St. Francis was a prolific preacher sharing he “Good News” wherever he went. Jesus commissioned His disciples and He commissions us too, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”. So be of good courage, go forth into the world and share the “Good News” of God’s grace, love, and mercy with someone today.