HOW CAN WE PRACTICE EVANGELISM?
We spent a lot of time last week talking about what evangelism is, why we struggle with it, and the need for us to “plan to stop not evangelizing.” This week, we are going to focus on some specific practices and attitudes that will aid us in our efforts to be faithful to Jesus’ call to go “and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
The first and most important step that any of us can take as we engage in the task of evangelism is prayer. J.I. Packer writes that we should “pray that we may so overflow in love for God that we will overflow in love for our fellow men, and so find it an easy and natural and joyful thing to share with them the good news of Christ.” Such love only comes as a gift from the Holy Spirit, so we should pray that he would fill us up in order that we might be effective as he sends us out.
As we pray, we can be comforted by the reality that we are never alone as we seek to be faithful in sharing the good news. Jesus is the real evangelist, and we simply labor alongside him. As Jerram Barrs reminds us, “He, even now, is the one who draws men and women to himself, so that, whenever we seek to obey his call and take up the task of evangelism, we discover that he has already done the hard work.” When we are nervous about the cogency of our arguments are the efficacy of our words, we can cling to the reality “what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19–20).
2. Be Intentional
Faithful evangelism requires intentionality. Meaningful conversations usually don’t happen by accident. We need to place ourselves in proximity to people who don’t yet know Jesus and build in enough margin in our day so that, as Rosaria Butterfield writes “regular routines can be disrupted but not destroyed.” She explains, “This margin stays open for the Lord to fill.” Intentionality might also lead one to frequent the same restaurants and business in order to “develop relationships and hopefully create evangelistic opportunities.”
It is not often that people take the time to really listen to one another in our culture. Mark Dever comments, “Something typical of our age is a heightened defensiveness…” People tend to talk at rather than to each other.
Defensiveness is natural for us. It has been the typical human posture towards God and one another since the fall. So we need to work to help people hear the gospel. We want to live and talk in a way that causes people to reflect on themselves and their actions. We can do this by asking good questions. “But afterword,” writes Dever, “we’ll have to do what some witnessing Christians find very hard to do, something that surprises some of our non-Christian friends—listen to their answers!” Dever continues:
“Ask good questions and listen to their answers. Explore them. You may be helping them to enunciate and articulate their own thinking for the first time ever. And you don’t even need to try to pretend that this is easy for you. This is what you do for someone you love, and you surely love the person you’re witnessing to.”
4. Show Hospitality
We should not underestimate the power of hospitality in our increasingly isolated and fragmented world. According to Matt Chandler, “I think it’s more true than ever to say that evangelism is going to look like hospitality. You heard me right. As we walk courageously in our cultural climate, evangelism will look like showing hospitality.” This requires that we see our homes not as our alone, but “as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom.” We must open doors, seek out the underprivileged, and come to understand that “to gospel comes with a house key.”
 J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2012), 78.
 Jerram Barrs, Learning Evangelism from Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009), 16.
 Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), Preface, Kindle.
 Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 11.
 Ibid, 64.
 Ibid, 65.
 Ibid, 66.
 Matt Chandler, “Hospitality Is Courageous,” The Gospel Coalition (The Gospel Coalition, April 13, 2018), https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/hospitality-courageous/.
 Butterfield, Preface, Kindle.