In the previous blog I wrote that the paradox of evangelism is that when we remember that evangelism is impossible, we are more likely to evangelize!
Here’s the reverse of that paradox: If we think evangelism is supposed to be easy, we’re more likely to quit.
There’s ample support for the notion that evangelism can be easy or natural or “everyday” or smooth. Many books and seminars promote this perspective. But I don’t find such support in the Scriptures.
Given the drama that Scripture describes when people get saved (they’re delivered from the domain of darkness, Satan loses his stronghold, Jesus’ is glorified, dead people are raised to life, etc.), is it surprising that evangelism would be difficult?
I wonder if some people portray evangelism as easy with the hopes that more Christians will jump in and just do it. But I find that more Christians are likely to evangelize if they accept that, for them, evangelism may always be difficult. I know that has been a breakthrough for me.
For many years, I kept waiting for witnessing to flow the way it did for Bill Bright. I had sat under his teaching and read his numerous books, especially Witnessing Without Fear. It’s a great book… with a bad title. Bill Bright taught me a tremendous amount on how to start evangelistic conversations, how to transition other conversations to the gospel, and how to present the gospel message in a clear, concise, and compelling way.
But Bill Bright was an evangelist, if there ever was one, and I have other gifts. After hoping for many years that my evangelism would someday look and sound like Bill’s, I finally accepted the fact that God gives different people different gifts.
This doesn’t let me off the hook. Even non-evangelists need to share the gospel. That’s why evangelist/apostle Paul told timid/pastor Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.”
But non-evangelists’ approaches are going to look and sound different than Bill Bright’s, Bill Hybels’, and Billy Graham’s. (Maybe it’s all in the name!) For the rest of us, we may need to give up the hope that evangelism will ever be easy. As long as we expect it to be so, we’ll second guess ourselves, experience discouragement, and perhaps, quit.
Witnessing with fear may be my motto (but I doubt that title would sell many books).
Here’s another paradox of evangelism. When we accept that evangelism will never be easy… it actually gets slightly less difficult.
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Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university professors. He ministers on campuses and elsewhere in our nation's capital to students, professors and policy shapers. He is an honors graduate from Temple University and has a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is also engaged in doctoral studies. Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and the books Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did and Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues about God and Life, both published by Kregel Publications, and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, forthcoming from Crossway.
To find out more, visit his blog, Integration Points.