Is Evangelism REALLY Necessary?
In his recently popular article Why Evangelism Is Hard, But Necessary (Pastors.com), Greg Stier addressed five common barriers to sharing the gospel:
1) It grates against social norms
2) It leads to awkward moments
3) It heightens our fear of rejection
4) It triggers Satanic attacks
5) It makes us realize how much we don’t know
The strength of the article lay in the way it honestly deals with the hurdles that many Christians face on a personal level when explaining the gospel. While most readers will likely resonate with the obstacles presented, perhaps not every reader will be motivated to action. The reasons Stier presented in the article that make evangelism necessary are right, biblical, and good. However, they come across as being a step removed from the individual reader:
1) “Evangelism, along with prayer, is the primary tool through which God’s kingdom advances on this earth.” (Yes, but doesn’t this assume every Christian has dealt with his lack of enthusiasm for the advancement of God’s kingdom? Practically speaking, that often fluctuates from day to day in the lives of many believers.)
2) “People hang in the balance between heaven and hell. If we really care about them, we’ll do whatever it takes to get the message of Jesus to them…” (Again, doesn’t this assume that every Christian has dealt with his lack of concern for the lives of those who don’t know Christ?)
Perhaps a clearer, more direct piece leading Christian readers to see the necessity of their own role in evangelism is one by a lesser-known writer, Timothy Beougher: Must Every Christian Evangelize? (9Marks Journal, Fall 2013)
In it, Beougher answers two common objections to evangelism based on misguided theology rather than feelings and practical experience:
1. The Great Commission was only given to the apostles and therefore does not apply to us today.
2. Since only some people have the “gift of evangelism,” not everyone is obligated to witness.
Beougher then details four reasons why every Christian needs to evangelize:
1. The commands to witness are given to all followers of Christ
2. The example of “ordinary believers” in the early church
3. The stewardship the gospel imposes on us
4. The “work of ministry” in Ephesians 4
Yes, evangelism is REALLY necessary. And every Christian is called to the task. As Timothy Beougher concludes his article: “Some people run from the idea of evangelism because they assume it means they must be obnoxious and pushy. There are many approaches to sharing the gospel. The only fixed method is the message: telling others about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com