Evangelicals Have Been Getting Evangelism All Wrong, Seriously

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It’s crazy to even assert this. ‘Evangelicals’ are called evangelicals because we’re the ones that have figured out evangelism. At least that’s the idea. We’re the ones that follow the Bible (at least the parts we like). We’re people of the Book, but ironically enough we’re completely missing what the Bible says about evangelism, which is supposed to be our bread and butter. More than just a rant or click bait, I fully believe evangelicals are completely missing it on evangelism, which is supposed to be the definition of who we are. Just look at our churches. Look at the empty pews. Look at the people walking away. Look at the students graduating and never coming back. Whatever we think we know about evangelism, we’ve somehow lost sight of how to do it effectively.

So, since Evangelicals are people of the Bible, let’s look at Scripture for our authority, because it’s in the New Testament that we’re reminded of a truth that we’ve somehow managed to forget. In 1 Corinthians Paul recounts how he came to the city of Corinth, evangelizing the people and telling them the good news of Jesus. His words should stop us in our tracks:

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Paul was incredibly well-educated and well-versed in the Scripture of his day. He would have had a doctorate and could have been a seminary professor if he so chose. If anyone could have pulled off being wise and persuasive, it would have been Paul. Yet he himself said that his message and teaching did not rely on wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. A demonstration of the Spirit’s power. That was his key to evangelism. But as I noted in a previous post (An Oversimplified Reason Why So Many Southern Baptist Churches are Dying), we tend to avoid the Holy Spirit. With no Holy Spirit there’s no option of demonstrating the Spirit’s power. Which leaves us with wise and persuasive words. Which is why as a good evangelical I grew up memorizing presentation after presentation about the gospel as the most effective means of evangelism. If I could just memorize my arguments and make them wise enough and persuasive enough, then I could start knocking on people’s doors, interrupt their dinners and try and argue them into the Kingdom of God.

Guess what I learned after years of doing that? It’s really really difficult to argue people into the Kingdom of God. This shouldn’t be a surprise, because Paul already told us that 2000 years ago. That’s why, as wise and persuasive and as educated as he was, he didn’t rely on arguments for evangelism. He relied on a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. It’s to our detriment that we’ve forgotten this timeless truth.

You want to figure out an evangelism strategy that works? Figure out how to demonstrate the Spirit’s power in your life and in your church. Read up on that (I’ve written a post called 5 Ways to Demonstrate the Spirit’s Power in Your Life). Try that, and I believe you’ll be amazed at the results.

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