I am writing for the anxious Christians who think they MUST evangelize, share their faith with all the people they meet. It’s not the responsibility of every Christian to make converts or even disciples for that matter. In general, believers are not told to go into the world and convince people to ‘accept Christ’ as if they fear for the souls of each person in their families, circles of friends or workplace.
But that’s what we are often made to think. How many books are there on ‘evangelism’, not sharing God’s love which is always a good thing, but rather trying to convince people to believe the same as we do.
If you read the New Testament, outside the Gospels, you will not find any explicit commands to evangelize anyone. You will however discover encouragement, commands, direction and even warnings about developing a Christ centered character, developing a lifestyle of love and forgiveness. And believe me, forgiveness is a lot harder than evangelism. You will learn how to love God, worship God and show God’s grace to those around you.
Paul, the Apostle, was certainly an evangelist but if you read his words to the churches and individuals he is most always writing about building up the body of Christ, the community of faith and developing a character whose chief quality is love.
In the Gospels let’s look at the words of Jesus. He called 12 disciples among others to be apostles and he directed them (Matthew 28) to go into the world and ‘make disciples’ which is more extensive and intensive than ‘converts’. This was a special assignment. On another occasion he sent 70 people to announce that God’s Kingdom had indeed come. He sent them as units of two to announce his coming, to prepare the towns and villages for he himself to come and preach. I am not sure how this translates into people going door to door, two by two, to win converts to a particular religion but that’s another matter.
See Jesus made disciples out of those who wanted to follow him. He was the premier evangelist but he does not declare that every follower needs to be a ‘soul winner’.
Billy Graham has been an evangelist. That’s his calling. But it’s not for everyone. We, individually, have been encouraged to be ready to give anyone an answer for how and why we believe in Christ and to do that with gentleness. (1Peter 3:15). Paul writes to the Ephesians church that ‘evangelism’ is a special gift given to some. One of those ‘some’ may be indeed one of us. But in general what we are commanded is to ‘have the mind of Christ’. We are to have the character of Christ, which will lead to loving others, even praying for one another and sharing Christ’s love with others. That will come in an almost natural way as we live with Christ day to day.
But don’t let anyone tell you that you HAVE to be an evangelist. You can I are called to be followers of Christ in word and deed. We are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth wherever and to whomever God leads us. Listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying.