written by Dr. Jeffrey Hallett
A few weeks ago, after returning from my second short term mission trip to Kenya, I asked my Sunday class of 8th grade boys what was hard about evangelism. The answers came. “Well, I’ve got to know my stuff…I’ve got to talk the talk and walk the walk …I’ve got to find someone who’s interested…I’ve got to get to know them, wait for the right time, and find the right words…and after all that, I might end up sounding lame anyway”
Then I asked them what was easy about evangelism. The answers came. “Well, we are passionate about Jesus…we have the Holy Spirit…we help each other…we teach each other…we guide each other…we know each other, and we protect each other.”
Notice anything? The difficulties of evangelism are all in the first person singular. The easy things of evangelism are all in the first person plural.
The Western church is full of individuals. When we set out to follow the Great Commission, we picture Paul, going door to door, saying “Caesar is not king, Jesus is, and if you don’t like it just try to stone me to death”. That’s pretty hard.
On the other hand, the Third World (actually, the Majority World), starts and ends their Kingdom building with community. When they set out to follow the Great Commission, they don’t picture Paul. They picture the Church of Acts 2:42-47. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Is it possible that evangelism, defined as God adding to our numbers, just happens when believers love each other where non-believers can see it? (Acts 2:42 & Matt 28:20) Certainly Paul would approve of this notion. He would say this fellowship in the Holy Spirit, this koinonia, is a great gift of our salvation, and the normative way to evangelize. When Paul exhorts us to “put on Christ”, he is telling us to connect to the Body and attach to the Vine.
I am convinced that the gospel spreads by Christians coming alongside other Christians in the name of Christ. When non-believers see this bond, they want to join the family. “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved” (2 Cor 2:15). When we have koinonia we have eternal treasure. When we participate in koinonia, we participate with joy in God’s recreation of the new heaven and new earth. There are no “service projects” in this kingdom building, just brothers and sisters we love to help. There is no legalism, just doing the right thing and enjoying it. There is no going outside of our comfort zone, because the Comforter is always present where two or three are gathered in His name.
Evangelism defined biblically is the same here as it is in Kenya. When we are corporate producers of the Gospel we see conversions, baptisms, miracles, and changed lives. How easy is that?
“A Word from Urbana Seminary” welcomes back Dr. Jeffrey Hallett. Jeff is committed to healing people, physically and spiritually, in Champaign-Urbana and in Africa. As his blog suggests ultimate healing is found in Christ through his body of believers loving each other and serving others. Urbana Seminary is pleased to count Dr. Hallett a friend.