Discipleship and evangelism can be confusing subjects these days. The short and sweet is that a disciple is someone who is transformed by Jesus and follows after him. While discipleship is really a long process, it always begins with some form of evangelism. In essence, evangelism at its root is simply the ‘good news’ of what Christ did for all of us on the cross. One big dog theologian, Michael Green, noted that this conveyance of the good news is really a “sacred duty of every Christian.” Evangelism is a hot topic in Church Planting and in most Christian circles in general. There are unlimited strategies on the subject. They range from secretive social gospel thinking on one hand to the huge public mass meetings on the other. The results of each vary. But even the apparent success of any of them may end in failure unless there is real transformation. In addition, even successful strategies for reaching out in the past may honestly just not work today. One such example may be the success of the great Sunday School movements of the 20th century which are for the most part being replaced today by small groups.
There are tons of books and guides written every year on evangelistic approaches. But yet, many of these works resemble more of a mass media marketing rather than a biblical teaching. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not some ultra-legalistic preacher here. I’ve used and plan to use outreach tools again. But the question I want to ask in this series of posts is whether or not there is any form of evangelistic principle shown in the New Testament. In short, does the book of Acts, which chronicles the spread of the Church in the first century, offer any help in the pursuit of an evangelistic approach? Really, this should be a natural place to begin when you think about the profound expansion of the Church in the first century. Paraphrasing one great missionary, “in little more than 10 years, churches were established all over four major provinces of the Roman Empire.” Imagine that kind of exponential growth and discipleship. While Luke does not set out in the book of Acts to give us a practice manual, there are a number of principles which we can pick up. These strategies were not constructed by marketing experts, but were rather simply recorded by Luke as they happened under divine inspiration. So it of seems that it would behoove modern planters, missionaries, and Christ followers as a whole to examine the work of those who have gone before us. So, in order to have a more positive influence in reaching out, it is imperative that we heed the evangelistic principles seen in Acts. In this series, we’ll look at four areas: the message proclaimed, the methods employed, the divine influence, and the relationship between human strategy and divine guidance.
But for the time being, what have you read, heard, experienced, or witnessed that has made the greatest impact on you in the realm of evangelism?