Summary: This is the 7th sermon in a series of 8 on discipleship. This sermon talks about the importance of evangelism in discipleship.
Some of the text in this sermon comes from "Out of the Saltshaker" by Rebecca Pippert.
Over the past six weeks we’ve talked about several different characteristics of disciples. We’ve learned the importance of submission in discipleship. We’ve learned the necessity of prayer and study in our lives as disciples. We discussed reasons why we must make ourselves slaves to righteousness in our walk as disciples. And last week we talked about the importance of servanthood in discipleship.
If you will remember back in the beginning of June I said that my hope through this series was that you would not only be enlightened and learn something new, but that most importantly you would be transformed through this study on discipleship. I hope that each of you are striving to make these discipleship characteristics a daily part of your life. If you aren’t, I want to encourage you not to give up and become discouraged, stay with the fight. If you are, outstanding, I hope that you will keep it up. But we have yet to talk about the key to discipleship.
If you are doing all of these things in your life, but you aren’t involved in evangelism, then you are falling short of what God has called you to do. Now if you have never tried actively evangelizing or maybe you have but you haven’t led someone to Christ, please know that you are not alone. A recent church study revealed that 95% of evangelical Christians admitted that they had never led anyone to the Lord. I don’t want anyone to feel like you’re a bad Christian if you’ve never evangelized, but I also want everyone to know that God is working in a partnership with us and he not only wants us to go make disciples, he needs us to because he’s given that job to us! A disciple of God is constantly witnessing and is always prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks him about his faith. 1st Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Evangelism is the key to disciplemaking and must be the cutting edge of any lasting ministry. Evangelism brings new life into a ministry. Whether it is here at the Wesley Foundation or in your local church, people must be added to each ministry because they came to know Christ and sought a church home. If we aren’t bringing new people into the faith, our churches and our ministries will slowly die out. If we aren’t bringing people into a relationship with Jesus, then we aren’t being fruitful for the kingdom of God. We must go forth from here as fishers of men making disciples and the key to doing so is through that big scary word, evangelism!
There are several reasons why we are scared of evangelism and why that word carries a bad connotation with it. For one we worry too much about how many people we offend. There is a myth that says all evangelists are obnoxious and pushy. Think about this though, if you are sensitive enough to realize that you could offend someone in your evangelizing, then offending other people probably isn’t your problem. God hasn’t called us to spend our time worrying about how we might offend someone, instead he calls us to be bold and to step out and witness for him.
Another myth to evangelism is that you have to do it all at once. If you have 30 minutes with someone while you are getting your haircut then there’s no way you can evangelize, because that’s not enough time to share the whole ball of wax with them at one time and get them to commit their life to Christ. Sometimes evangelism takes some time. Asking someone what they believe and sharing with them what you believe can be evangelism even if you don’t have the time to lead them through the whole gospel and then through the sinner’s prayer and into a relationship with Christ.
Now one of my favorite myths to evangelism is that if we make one mistake we’ve turned someone off from Christianity forever. If we offend someone or we can’t answer one of their questions, then it’s all over. They are doomed. Their eternal destiny rested on your ability to know all of the answers and you failed them. And rather then take this chance and possibly doom someone forever, it would be safer to just leave evangelism up to the preachers and the professionals. Now come on, is God not eternal and powerful? Don’t you think he might have the ability to reach someone again even if you messed up or couldn’t answer one of their questions? Don’t you think God has the power to reach someone even if you may have slightly offended them? So many people are afraid that they don’t know enough to evangelize or that they might offend someone and turn them off from Christianity for good so instead they just smile and let their actions do the talking. Letting your actions and deeds to others speak for you is ONE way to evangelize, but let me tell you, Girl Scouts smile a lot and they do good deeds and service for others, so that certainly can’t be all there is to witnessing for Christ.