What are some examples of bad evangelistic practices?
- Failure to share the gospel at all. Because evangelism is sharing the gospel, the main way to go wrong is to fail to tell the message at all. Sometimes people who are doing social work think that by caring for the poor or helping the oppressed they’re “sharing the gospel without words.” They’re not. They may be doing wonderfully kind and selfless things for others, but evangelism means telling others the message about Christ.
- Distorting the message. Faithful evangelism means telling the message in its entirety (Acts 20:27), even the unpopular truths about sin and God’s judgment.
- Teaching a false message in its place. Some people who claim to preach the gospel actually preach the very opposite, with dire consequences for themselves and their hearers (Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Peter 2:1-3).
- Presenting the gospel as a mere opinion. It is a distortion of the gospel to present it as a personal opinion that someone can reject with no real consequences. Evangelism means calling people to repent of their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved from God’s wrath. The gospel is no mere opinion and our evangelism must faithfully communicate the gospel’s universal truthfulness and binding demands.
- Pressuring someone into making a decision. Only God can give faith and repentance. If we pressure people into making a decision, they may make a decision that will count for nothing in eternity. This can falsely lead someone to believe that by his “decision” he’s become a Christian when he has not repented of his sins and trusted in Christ.
- Majoring on the minors. While we want to fairly address unbelievers’ questions, spending hours debating the problem of evil is not the same thing as preaching Christ. Don’t let rabbit trails keep you from presenting the message of the cross.
- Rudely disparaging unbelievers’ questions or objections.This is a great way to offend them and swiftly end evangelistic conversations. Peter shows us how we should respond to non-Christians’ questions when he writes, “Do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV).
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