Summary: Here is a dynamic model for evangelism in 21st century America
Text: 1st Thessalonians 2:1-12 (NASB)
Introduction: I have a question for you tonight. It is a little tricky so be careful in how you answer. How can you tell when something is on fire? The answer is not smoke, it is not heat, it is not light, and the answer is because it burns. Fire consumes and ignites other material and in fact, any fire that does not spread will eventually go out.
An imperative question that we must ask ourselves as a church and as individuals is this. Are we going to burn? Are we going to continue to be on fire because we reach out to others and invite them to come to know the greatest news in the world, the news that God loves them and forgives them? Or are we going to be extinguished because we never shared God’s message with our friends and family?
A fire that does not burn is a contradiction. A fire has to spread and expand if it is going to live. That is why tonight we are going to look at a value that we hold high here, so that we don’t get one, two, or five years down the road and say, “Remember when, remember the good times…” The value that we are going to look at is this.
Lost people matter to God, and therefore they should matter to me, and they should matter to you.
If lost people truly matter to us as they matter to Jesus then we will actively engage in the purpose of Evangelism. Evangelism is all one of the five purposes that God has planned both for the church as a whole and for us as individuals as well. Basically evangelism is sharing your life’s message.
In his book “The Purpose Driven Life,” Pastor Rick Warren states that your life’s message will have four parts to it.
1. Your testimony: the story of how you began a relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. Your life lessons: The most important lessons God has taught you.
3. Your Godly passions: the issues God shaped you to care about most
4. The Good News: the message of salvation.
In reality there are many different methods that we can use to actually accomplish the purpose of evangelism. However, all current Christian and secular research indicates that in 21st century America that most effective method of evangelism is known as relational evangelism, which is also known as friendship evangelism.
In other words we believe that the best way to reach other people is through life on life, friendship based influence. When asking people how they came to Christ, how they became a Christ Follower, the overwhelming majority will say, “Because someone I knew was a Christian and they made a huge impact on my life” It is not through big evangelism crusades or by watching some Christian TV special, but it through relationships! And this is no surprise because some of Jesus last words to his disciples were their “marching orders” so to speak.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB) 18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Jesus says here’s the deal… “I want you to go and communicate the good news that I have given you and lead people to faith in me. Then I want you to make disciples out of those people, I want you to teach them so that they can grow up spiritually.” Then Jesus unveils the way to do this, through the newly created church, or through the believers who meet together and fellowship. That is what we are, we are group of believers in Christ who meet together and hang out, and a group of people that depends on each other and looks out for each other. This is the way Jesus said the good news about God’s love would be brought to the entire world. Why? Because human beings need other humans, we are relational creatures that like to be apart of a group that loves and cares for them, like a family, or a church. And our mission, the mission given to the church is to be about the business of turning irreligious, far from God people into fully-dependant followers of Jesus Christ.
We are to help heal the hurting, and help turn them toward the answer for life, and freedom, and salvation, Jesus!
Famous news commentator Paul Harvey said once, “God has called the church to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.”