Far too often we program and compartmentalize things that are intended to be engaged in more naturally. One such area of life is evangelism. I was reminded of this reality last week as I walked around the pond in our local park. I found myself talking with a man and our conversation moved to the gospel. Soon enough, we were in the throes of a deep gospel centered talk about life. At one point, he looked at me and said, “I’m 49 years old, and this is the first time in my entire life that someone has intentionally talked to me about these things.”
As Christians, we’re commissioned by Christ to go and make disciples, but we often turn such practices into a 3-4 step program rather than a natural way of communication and personal interaction. Maybe you are finding yourself lost in how to get involved in sharing the gospel? Why not add some spontaneity to your evangelism?
Programs Can Sometimes Act as Walls
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against all programs in the life of the church. However, there are many times when programs can become so structured that it provides walls that hinder rather than bridges that deliver. Do you feel like you are being forced to fulfill a program rather than genuinely engage people with the gospel out of compassion? When it comes to evangelism, if people become attached to a programed approach, they will often overlook opportunities directly in their paths at their children’s ball practices, at lunch break, or on the college campus simply because evangelism is something they do on Tuesday evenings.
Even if a person decides to support their church’s evangelism program—adding spontaneity in the area of evangelism will provide a more natural and efficient form of lifestyle evangelism as opposed to a strictly programed approach. This will not only allow a person to become more natural, but it will build confidence as the person shares the gospel more frequently.
Romans is a Biblical Letter Not an Evangelism Road
I was trained to share the gospel with the “Roman Road” technique that begins with Romans 3:23 (sin) and moves on to Romans 5:12 to reinforce before moving on to Romans 6:23 to point to the judgment of God that everyone earns by their sin. After discussing these details, you move to Romans 10:13 to emphasize the reality that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord by faith will be saved. Finally, if the person is ready to repent, you turn to Romans 10:9-10 and help them call out to the Lord with faith that Christ died for them on the cross.
Sure, these verses are true, but Romans was not really intended to be a gospel tract. It might be good to begin with the law of God (Ten Commandments) and then move to the New Testament to show how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of God’s law and after keeping it in totality—he was sacrificed for sinners and provides his righteousness to everyone who comes to him by faith. Perhaps in a more natural way, a person can talk through creation, fall, condemnation, incarnation, redemption, and the final consummation of the final salvation in Christ.
Programs Can Communicate a Negative Message
If your sole means of evangelism is something you do on Tuesday evening—you will likely find that fruit is few and far between. People tend to look at programed visits as planned or even paid visits as opposed to genuine and compassionate. Not only can this approach communicate that message, it can turn into that approach by the one engaging in the evangelism program too if not guarded. The person that’s being visited is an image bearer of God and deserves to be treated as such—rather than a mere notch on the belt. John Piper, in his sermon titled, “I am Sending You to Open their Eyes, 2 Cor. 4:1-7” said the following:
Be encouraged that simply finding people interesting and caring about them is a beautiful pathway into their heart. Evangelism gets a bad reputation when we are not really interested in people and don’t seem to care about them. People really are interesting. The person you are talking to is an amazing creation of God with a thousand interesting experiences. Very few people are interested in them. If you really find their story interesting, and care about them, they may open up to you and want to hear your story—Christ’s story.