By Dale Jenkins

Evangelism. The very word brings guilt into the hearts of some and makes others quake with fear. It need not.

What does it mean to say we are evangelistic? We squint and strain at the word, and I must admit it is a rather big and ominous one but the reality is, with all our materials, and approaches, with the plans and the pleas, ultimately evangelism comes down to one thing: telling another about what God has done in our lives.

Some have tortured 1 Peter 3:15 to the point that we miss what it actually does say. It does not say we must be ready to answer every question (2 Timothy 2:15 comes closer to that), it does not say we must know Christian evidences so that we can construct an argument against the most learned of atheistic scholars (though I’m glad many good students can), it does not say we must understand and be able to articulate the intricacies of the text, it does not say we should be able to narrate the Jule Miller filmstrips without the recording.

What 1 Peter 3:15 does say is that we are to be “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” It is the reason for our hope that we are to express and explain. While I am so very thankful for individuals who through the years have provided us with some excellent teaching aids, eventually a Christian should simply be able to share with another how God’s redeeming grace came into his life.

The bottom line of evangelism is your own effort of using your God-given or acquired skills to strive to bring someone to Christ via the Good News (i.e. Luke 8:39). We’ve clouded the biblical concept with things like conducting Cottage Studies, practicing Friendship Evangelism and, more recently, being Missional. None of the concepts are wrong, they can just make this sound more like a task or some performance-driven initiative than, as the saying attributed to D.T. Niles goes: “Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”

Perhaps we’d do well to just tell what the word evangelistic means. The word has had a resurgence of late in the secular world. We hear about product evangelists, evangelism marketing, or brand evangelists. Each are consumers who have used a product and loved it or benefited from it enough that they happily tell others about it. That’s it isn’t it?

I’ve known evangelistic people like Keith who asks waiters or waitresses if they know Jesus, or Mickey who would invite people to pray with them, or Pearl who loved to invite people to church with her, or Doc who invited every patient he had to study the Bible with him. They were all evangelistic, simply telling others about Christ and/or His church and how much they love it. It is a word from the Greek word euangelistes that simply means “seeking to convert others to the Christian faith.” It is just a fancy way of saying telling others what Jesus has done for you with the desire that they follow Him too.

Remember it is our mission to plant the seed (Matthew 28:18-20), God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6) and His promise is that His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). To try to excuse ourselves by saying no one is interested or people won’t respond says we do not believe in the present day power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).

I spent 18 years of my life with the most evangelistic people you could ever imagine. Dad, Jerry Jenkins studied with and baptized thousands of people with his gentle humility and persistent belief in the power of the Gospel. Here is what I learned about being evangelistic from the most evangelistic man most have ever known.

  1. Keep an active list of people you would like to have the opportunity to teach. Pray about it every day and then watch for opportunities and openings to talk to them about the Gospel. Do you have a list?

  2. Do things that help you develop relationships that can lead to studies. Dad would go to the same restaurant over and over at lunch and use the same waitress so he could set up a study with her. He would have accounts at multiple banks and always go to the same teller in each bank hoping to set up a Bible study with the banker.

  3. Take someone with you on a study: Dad believed this did two things. First, it kept him going when he was tired or busy. If he already had someone going with him he didn’t want to let them down. And second, it helped train the other person in teaching the Gospel to others.

  4. When studying with someone remember you are studying together, learning together, don’t act like a know-it-all or talk down to the person.

  5. Remember big picture little picture! You are trying to teach the Gospel to them. To get them to become Christians, you are not there to win every little argument or continually correct them. Too often we win the war but lose a soul. It is okay to ask them if you can wait about some questions they ask until later.

  6. Be kind: Leave open doors. Haughtiness, cockiness, arrogance, an air of superiority will close doors. That should go without saying for God’s People. If you are not gracious to others, it is possible you do not know what grace is.

To be clear. The answer to the question this article asks is simple – love people and look for openings to talk to them about the Lord who you also love.

This article appears in the October 2018 issue of Think magazine. To subscribe, click here.