What Is Stopping Us? Removing The Barriers To Personal Evangelism Series
Contributed by Jason Smith on Sep 15, 2014 (message contributor)
Summary: This lesson looks at the barriers and excuses that keep us away from our mission as individuals.
This is lesson three in our series of lessons on personal evangelism. We have examined many ideas so far.
• In our first lesson, we looked at the Great Commission and how it applies to each one of us. We each need to love those who are their way to an eternity separated from God enough to open up our mouths to talk to them about the Lord. We also need to trust in the power of the Gospel and show our faith in this message by sharing it.
• In our second lesson, we defined evangelism from the word of God and looked at examples of evangelism, seeing how many today have redefined evangelism to make it something that it is not, to the point in which very few actually do the work of evangelism as the Bible defines it. We will talk a little more about this shortly.
In this lesson, Lord willing, we will look at the barriers to personal evangelism. What is stopping us from fulfilling the call of God to share this gospel with the lost? I would like to examine briefly at least six things that keep us from doing this work. There are more things we could talk about, but I think most of our barriers or excuses fit into one of the six categories I will mention.
1. THE PROFESSIONAL PASTOR/PREACHER MENTALITY
We may not see at times how much churches today have been affected by denominationalism. We may not call the preacher a “pastor”, but in many ways, many churches do look at the preacher in the same way as denominations view the preacher. He is at times viewed by the local church as the employee who is paid to do the work of the local church. This may not be the view of many here, but I believe it is becoming more and more common in churches today, especially churches that do not have an eldership. The preacher has become being viewed as THE leader or even THE worker of the congregation.
The evangelist is not hired to do all of the church’s work. He is supported to do his work that he is doing for the Lord. I believe such a view misunderstands the work of the evangelist. In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul says that God gave His church the offices of Apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor for the purpose of “equipping the saints for ministry.” Among the offices that God gifted His people is the office of evangelist. The role of these offices is to equip the saints for the work THEY are to do, not to do all of the work for the saints.
We may agree with this in principle, but without even knowing at times, we can make it so that all of the work of evangelism is done by the evangelist. At times, most of the work that the saints do has the purpose of getting the lost people to the preacher so he can share the gospel with them either in the sermon or in a Bible study. If we remember our evangelism timeline from our previous lesson, I showed what “evangelism” looks like at times among many churches:
As we talked about in our previous lesson, the only one doing evangelism as we see it defined and shown to us in scripture is the preacher. Evangelism defined and shown in scripture is the giving of good news. In this scenario, the preacher is the one who teaches the gospel to the lost person, whether that be in the pulpit or when he is finally able to get together with the lost person to study with them. Instead of having a professional preacher mentality in our evangelism in giving the evangelist all of the contacts and opportunities to give the gospel to the lost, we each need to see that we have the responsibility and privilege to teach the gospel to the lost. We all need to be doing this important work. And as I said in the last lesson, these other things that people call “evangelism” are good things to be doing, but they cannot replace our personal responsibility to give the gospel to a lost person. They may be good ways to open doors for evangelism to be done, but they in and of themselves are not evangelism.
All of the evangelism should NOT be done within the walls of the church building by one man. We all need to teach the gospel as we go out into the world.
2. A NEGATIVE OUTLOOK ON PERSONAL EVANGELISM
Many people say, “It is just not going to work. People are not going to be converted. The world is just too evil. What the Apostles and early church did won’t work today” etc…etc…
Many of these things may be true, but is this ever a reason to not do what we are commanded to do by God? Even in the New Testament, where we see plenty of people converted to the Lord, the MAJORITY of people did not obey the Gospel. The MAJORITY of people were not converted. On the day of Pentecost, the majority of the people in Jerusalem did not obey the Gospel. We have three thousand repent and be baptized. Do you know how many people are normally estimated to have been in Jerusalem at that time? Anywhere from 1-2 million people. Assuming there were 1.5 million people in the city, 3000 people are not even close to being 1% of the people. It is 0.2% of the people (if I did my math correctly).