Summary: Evangelism sermon
Bread, Combines, & Coca-Cola, Oh My!
I know I’ve told some of you this joke before. What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Presbyterian? Someone who stands at the door and knocks but doesn’t say anything. They say Baptists are “running to the Lord”, while the Presbyterians are “walking, single file, decently and in order”.
When we speak of evangelism what thoughts run through your mind? It’s the pastor’s job? Street corner Bible thumpers? Door to door salesman type people? Pushy people who are trying to get us to see things their way or convert to their belief system? How about guilt for not saying enough about the Lord? People swarming down the aisle at a revival or other type “religious” rally? Or is it friends sharing the excitement of good news with each other? One of my favorite thoughts is this: “Evangelism is one beggar telling another where to find bread.”
Today is Evangelism Sunday. Yes. That’s right. Evangelism. Witnessing. Sharing your story. The thing that people say Presbyterians don’t do. The thing you yourselves say you can’t do. You say, “We’ll leave that evangelism stuff to the Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Pentecostals.”
Well, we’re going to look at evangelism and see if those statements are true. There are many barriers, real and perceived, to evangelizing. We’ll look at those, too.
The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful and costly tombs ever built, but there is something fascinating about its beginnings. In 1629, when the favorite wife of Indian ruler Shah Jahan died, he ordered that a magnificent tomb be built as a memorial for her. The shah placed his wife’s casket in the middle of a parcel of land, and construction of the temple literally began around it. But several years into the venture, the Shah’s grief gave way to a passion for the project. One day while he was surveying the sight, he reportedly stumbled over a wooden box, and he had some workers throw it out. It was months before he realized that his wife’s casket had been destroyed. The original purpose for the memorial became lost in the details of construction.
Dr. James Dobson, Coming Home, Timeless Wisdom for Families, (Tynadale House Pub., Wheaton; 1998), 122.
The same thing can happen to us. We can get so busy doing churchy things that we forget our purpose, why we’re here. There are 5 specific purposes given to the church and each individual believer. They are:
WORSHIP (Enjoying God’s presence)
FELLOWSHIP (Joining God’s team)
DISCIPLESHIP (Growing in God’s grace)
MINISTRY (Serving in God’s world)
EVANGELISM (Sharing God’s good news)
Evangelism is a big word with a simple meaning. It literally means "to announce good news." Of course we have the best news of all to announce, that there’s forgiveness and reconciliation and healing in Jesus Christ.
Another barrier is fear. Here are some of the fears that have been mentioned to me:
- "I am afraid I might do more harm than good."
- "I don’t know what to say."
- "I may not be able to give snappy answers to tricky questions."