History’s greatest missionary stated a spiritual truth to all the Christians in Rome: “How lovely are the feet of those bearing good news!” [Romans 10:15] To the Ephesians Paul warned that part of the equipment in the battle against Satan was “having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel.” [Ephesians 6:15 RSV] Thus, here and elsewhere, Paul taught that every Christian should be an evangelist, or bringer of good news.
Paul’s methods in evangelizing were copied from the Nazarene himself. Can there be any question Jesus was the greatest of all evangelists? Did he not send out all of his apostles to evangelize others? Did he not appoint 70 disciples to go “preaching the good news of the Kingdom”? The early Church followed this example. It was the secret of the marvelous growth: every disciple shared the Gospel with others.
In modern times this evangelism might be called “networking.” Note how the process began with Jesus in the Gospel of John:
The next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus approaching he declared: "Behold, the Lamb of The God!" And the two disciples listened to him, and so they followed Jesus. But, turning Jesus saw them following and said: "What are you seeking?" They answered "Rabbi, (which is translated, Teacher,) where are you staying?" He said to them: "Come, and see." Therefore they went and saw where he stayed, and they remained with him that day; it was about the tenth hour. One of the two was Andrew the brother of Simon Peter who had heard what John said and followed [Jesus]. [Andrew] first found his own brother, Simon, and said to him: "We have found the Messiah" (which translated means, Christ). Andrew led Simon toward Jesus. Looking at Simon, Jesus said: "You are Simon the son of John. You will be called Cephas" --which is translated Peter). [21st Century Version of the Christian Scriptures - NCMM]
The next day Jesus wished to leave for Galilee. So he found Philip and said to him: "Follow me." But Philip was from Bethsaida, from the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, telling him: "We have found the one of whom Moses wrote -- in the Law and the Prophets -- Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth." [John 1:29-45 NCMM]
Now that is networking: one friend finds another and one relative finds another --and so on, and so on, and so on. But, what motivates one person to become a Christian evangelist?
Paul stated the principle at 2 Corinthians 4:12, 13: “I believe, therefore, I spoke.” Anyone convinced of something, enthused about its value, cannot help but spread the news [evangelize]. Gossips and slanderers are experts at spreading news though damaging to others. If some even professed Christians used the same energy used in gossiping in spreading the good news they would become renowned missionaries!
Of course, it is difficult for some who are not natural talkers to introduce a strange subject to someone else. Others are gifted at such things. How can one learn to become a true Christian evangelist?
First, learn from others. Paul writes that one of the purposes of Christian elders is to teach others to spread the good news. Consider what he counseled Timothy: “What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” [2 Timothy 2:2] To the Ephesians he wrote of gifts from the Glorified King, “These ‘gifts’ given to humans include apostolic representatives, prophetic spokesman, missionaries of the good news, pastoral shepherds of congregations, and teachers within the Church. The purpose of these ‘gifts’ is to rearrange and perfectly equip all the Saints for the work of service to others.” [Ephesians 4:11, 12 NCMM] Yes, Christ has provided gifted elders within the Church - men who have experience in evangelism - to teach new Christians how to share the good news with others.
Some are particularly nervous about talking to others and this is understandable. Though some very shy persons have turned into very talkative disciples after some years of experience. How can all spread the good news and thus share in the grand work of evangelism?
One method of many is to let some kind of written material do your talking for you. The Friends of the Nazarene have prepared a number of brief four-page tracts to share with others. These can be copied and mailed to those who might benefit from them. Some of those currently available are:
Like godly seeds these can also be left in areas where people read: hospital waiting rooms, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, airports, Laundromats, bus terminals. They can be shared with fellow travelers on the bus, subways, airlines.
Some Friends like particular articles found in the monthly online magazine on the web page. These can be copied and reformatted into 2 to 4 page tracts or booklets and then shared with others.
If one is zealous to form a local Friends group then an address may be added inviting others to meet for weekly Bible reading and discussion. These Devotional Discussion groups can use materials prepared by the Friends of the Nazarene or Bible reading with open discussion. We get posts and mail from people all over the world wondering what to do. In all cases they are directed to imitate Jesus and Paul and become local evangelists. Often there is enough interest right in one’s family and among friends and fellow workers. The only limitation in the evangelizing work is one’s imagination and prayers.
I BELIEVE, THEREFORE, I SPOKE! Yes, how truly beautiful to God our those so moved by the spirit of Jesus to want to share the Evangel with others.
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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