Jul 07, 2017 | Erin Ford
Evangelism can feel challenging
I stood at a Power to Change Students booth in the middle of my campus’ student center trying to engage students walking by in conversation. No one seemed interested in stopping to chat with me. I felt bored and tired. Taking a step of faith to go out of my comfort zone and talk with a stranger didn’t feel like a task I wanted to tackle that day.
I thought, “Why am I even doing evangelism?”
I didn’t feel like I was changing the world standing at that booth, like I imagined I would.
Earlier that week I had eagerly signed up to work at the booth, eager for a chance to prove myself in ministry. I was developing a reputation in my campus ministry at being an “evangelism queen.” I had many successful ministry appointments and had even seen a few students accept Christ! It was exciting, but I wanted another chance to show off my skills in conversation and in hopes of seeing another student come to know Jesus.
When the day wasn’t panning out as I had hoped, I was quick to bail. Was this how evangelism was supposed to go?
In my limited experience with evangelism, I failed to understand how the gospel could transform my attempts to help others discover Jesus. I had the wrong attitude and perspective when it came to doing ministry. As you start to share your faith on campus or with your friends you may experience something similar as me. The good news is that the gospel frees us to share our faith with the right mentality.
Here are three ways the gospel frees us in evangelism:
1. The gospel frees us from pride
Pride is a condition of the heart that convinces us that we are the centre of the world. That our needs, ambitions, goals, and desires are more important than God’s or others (Psalm 10:4). In my pride, my wrong motivation for doing ministry was to make myself look accomplished and great. I wanted to show that I was worthy of God’s love, and worthy to the ministry that I was part of.
The gospel, the good news about Jesus, affirms that I can’t do anything to gain God’s favour. My attempts to rack up accomplishments in ministry didn’t influence how God viewed me or how he treated me. My performance wasn’t a ticket to receive more of God’s blessing and love.
The gospel frees us from pride because it emphasizes that only because of Jesus can we experience eternal life, closeness with God, share our faith, and experience change in heart and behaviour. These are gifts granted by God out of his mercy, grace, and love for us, not things we earn on our own merit (Ephesians 2:8-9). We should strive for perfection and greatness, but when we try to do it on our own it becomes exhausting. Instead, God invites us to entrust the evangelism process to him as he directs and leads us through his Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
2. The gospel frees us from shame
Shame whispers lies in your ears that “there is something wrong with you” if you don’t perform or do evangelism. Shame motivated me to do evangelism for the opposite reason as pride: if I didn’t do it, would I lose God’s love or favour in my life? Shame made me feel like I was a “bad Christian” if I didn’t share my faith.
The gospel declares that it’s not possible to lose God’s love based on my actions – since my actions didn’t earn God’s love to begin with! Even when I was at my worst, Jesus still chose to die for me. In Romans 5:6-8 Paul writes, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (ESV)
When I had nothing to offer God he still loved me and died for me in order for me to be restored to him. Thus, now that I know him, there is nothing that I could do to make him lose his love for me. Furthermore, God never uses shame to punish or direct us into taking a course of action (Psalm 103:8). Instead, God has compassion for us and the same remedy applies here: he invites us to entrust the evangelism process to him as he directs and leads through his Holy Spirit.
3. The gospel frees us to walk in God’s grace
As I continued to share my faith on campus, I noticed that I saw God work the most dramatically in the moments when I felt weakest or lacked skill in what I was doing. It was in my weakness that God showed his power to save and intervene in the lives of the students around me. In the moments I felt weak and incapable in doing ministry I reflected on Jesus’ words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV)
In those moments of weakness Jesus’ grace was enough. I realized that doing ministry really had nothing to do with me, but all about God working in and through me. It was his power that transformed my life, his power that was revealing his truth to my friends, and his power in helping others enter God’s kingdom.
Because of the truth of the gospel, we are freed to do evangelism out of God’s grace. God is more concerned with our hearts than our track record in ministry. Sharing Christ is a process – we need to constantly remind ourselves of the gospel so that we can more authentically share it with others.