When on the campus when I was working on my bachelor’s and doing campus ministry there were three main lies I had to get around before I could really start going out and sharing the gospel with people. Since then, reminding myself of these three lies and the truth has often been the key for me to share the truth with another person.
Lie One: No One Wants the Gospel Today
This is one of the most common lies to be believed in our culture and not just in the United States. In his book, The Call of Jesus Torben Søndergaard says this is one of the top excuses he meets in every country he goes to. It goes something like this, “I know people are successful in evangelism in this or that place but here people are just hard to the gospel”. I also often fall into this lie. Here in the US it is often put together with a kind of overarching picture of how liberal or post-modern the culture is becoming, how we can’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore, and how people are just radically against Christianity. In fact, this is just false. On the campus, I remember having a huge fear built up anytime I went out with someone to share the truth with strangers or when I asked a friend to sit down and have coffee to discuss God. What I met again and again even in people who stereotypically look like those who would start a sort of cultural battle people were often open to ask questions, open to hearing more, and generally happy you cared enough to talk with them about a real concern. I would say greater than 90% of people had this reaction and from hearing testimonies of others this is usually the case. Approaching people with a smile and the intention of really doing them well usually takes care of the majority of hostility one might face.
The Harvest is Plentiful, the Laborers are Few
Jesus addresses this lie head-on in scripture with what seems like a common phrase he used. We see it once following the conversation with the woman at the well, a Samaritan, as Jesus anticipated her bringing back more people with her to hear Jesus speak. Another time is in Matt 9, just before Jesus sends out the 12 on their first try and see mission trip. Jesus firmly taught that the issue is not with the harvest, it is not with the people out there. The lack of people coming into the Kingdom has to do with a lack of laborers, you and me, being trained and going out. The environment may seem scary but this is a lie that has been infused in our culture that is really demonic, and if we resist the devil and these cultural lies he will flee. If we get some training in how to share the truth, begin praying for others, and maybe ask some people who have gone out to talk with us about it we can go out in spite of our fear and see that the harvest is in fact plentiful.
Lie 2: I’m not Gifted in Evangelism
This is a theological lie we addressed in our talk Disciplemaking is Not for Everyone so feel free to go listen to that one! To summarize we are all called to follow and be like Jesus and Jesus disciples others and shared the truth. He also said following Him will lead us to be fishers of men (Matt 4:19). If we call ourselves a Jesus followers then evangelism is just for us! The good news is that evangelism is something every Christian will also be equipped to do (2 Peter 1:3-4, Matt 4:19). Jesus also promises to be with us when we do go out to reach others (Matt 28:20).
Some sowers some reapers?
This is a mini lie under the major lie here that has become popular among apologists in recent years. The idea is some of us are responsible for sowing the soil and some are responsible for collecting the harvest. The one verse this is based on is John 4:38, the idea being that the people of Jesus’ day were prepared by the Old Testament and nowadays we live in a time when people just aren’t so ready for the gospel. So now we need to split our work, some go out and sow a Christian worldview and other evangelist types go reap the harvest. This view is incorrect. Firstly, because nowhere in scripture are Christians called to sow, we are called to “Baptize” and to “teach them to observe all things” Jesus commanded (Matt 28:19-20). We are called to the same work that Jesus was doing before the cross (See John 17), that work we see being done in Acts, but never to go back and sow. Paul and the other disciples that reached out to the gentiles would probably also be shocked by this idea as they were going out to people just as Biblically illiterate as we do today. Finally, it’s just not true that the ground is so hard that we must simply dedicate ourselves to sowing. Philosopher William Lane Craig is a good example of going out and doing apologetic work in a gospel context, he not only uses arguments for God’s existence and the Resurrection having happened he also shares the gospel and gives people the opportunity to repent and turn to Jesus.
Lie 3: I Personally Can’t Do It
Usually, there is a slew of lies that come into this one. This is also the one we met most often when talking to individuals who are leaders or stand-out churchgoers. They give, they open their home up, they even have a lot of Biblical knowledge but when you ask if they go out to share their faith they say they are too shy or not good with words, or are simply people who can’t articulate enough theology. They are more than happy to cheer on those who go out but as for them, they are on the sidelines because they just can’t. I would just like to encourage you as I need to often encourage myself and be in front of God for encouragement. God is able to use all kinds of people to do His work. He used Moses, who killed an Egyptian to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He used a Christian killer Paul to lead the Gentile mission. God is in the business of recycling people and making them useful and fruitful. I love 2 Peter 1:3-4 and often it is a major source of encouragement for me.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.2 Peter 1:3-4
God really has equipped us with everything we need for life and Godliness, we can in fact do what He has called us to thanks to that.
Everything is Evangelism?
One point of clarity is important for this last lie. What I don’t mean is the common answer that sounds like the above but inevitably in sermons, talks and books turn into a kind of everything is evangelism kind of answer. You know the kind, like hey baking cakes for you’re coworkers and mentioning you are a Christian is also evangelism. Or inviting people to church is also evangelism. Answers that are given to help the nervous believer by telling them they are already fine and doing everything required. No, we are really called to “Go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19-20). The above things can be good from time to time but they do not make a disciple. Disciplemaking is only possible when we understand, can communicate and embody this message to a degree and we begin bringing others along into this kind of life. To hear more listen to this