My sons are five, three, and one, and they love to help me work on projects, especially when those projects involve tools. A few days ago, we were putting together a crib, so I pulled out my toolbox, and we began to read the instructions. Things were moving at a shockingly slow pace, as you can imagine; that was until my 3-year-old pulled the power drill from my toolbox and pressed his tiny fingers down on the power switch. My heart dropped. He had handled smaller tools before, but this was the first tool that had the power to harm him or whoever got in his way. It was a scary moment.
This feeling is similar to the one I feel when young disciples first become equipped to share their faith. It’s like they are grabbing a power tool for the first time! They are excited and ready to move into action. Still, suppose they do not move forward with guidance and instruction. In that case, they can end up causing pain to themselves and others unintentionally. Luckily, I could step in and help my son before anyone got hurt. Those are my same intentions with this article.
The gospel is powerful. The apostle Paul describes it as “the power of God for salvation…” in Romans 1:16. The gospel is the only weapon that has the power to change a person’s eternal destiny. Not only that, but it also makes us a new creation. The gospel opens up our hearts to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us (Romans 8:9) and gives us the power to live like Jesus.
So if the gospel is the power of God for salvation, does the way we communicate it matter?
The short answer is yes. Why? Because the Bible encourages us to communicate the message in specific ways. For example, 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) says,
But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
On the one hand, Peter tells us always to be prepared to talk about Jesus; on the other, he gives us an exhortation on how to communicate it, “with gentleness and respect.”
Or again in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV) when Paul says,
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
As important as it was for the early disciples to share the gospel message, it would be incomplete to ignore the intentionality of the delivery process. It is fair to say that the disciples thought carefully about presentation and the approach to communicating the gospel, so we should also.
3 Things that Matter to God when Sharing the Gospel
1. Motivation Matters
When Paul was writing to one of the churches he planted, he lets them in on his motivation. He says,
2 Cor 5:14 (ESV): For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
To be compelled, something must thrust you forward. What is it that thrust Paul forward to share to tell people about Jesus? The love of Christ. The verb tense of the word “compelled (synecho)” is in the present tense, emphasizing that it is continuous. This means that Paul is continually thinking about how Christ loved him.
When we first hear the gospel and believe, the love of Christ is so significant to us. We find friends, family, or anyone who will listen, and without anyone telling us to, we naturally share it. This is the purest form of what Paul is expressing to the Corinthians. But for Paul, that motivation is continual. Not because he feels pressured, but because he considers the love of Christ every single day. He doesn’t lose the awe of when he first decided to follow Jesus.
With this in mind, I would like you to take 4 minutes and write down as many reasons as you can come up with to answer this question.
Why is the gospel the greatest news you have ever heard?
I hope your list is long. If not, my prayer is that you would spend time considering and learning more about the implication of Christ’s love in your life. Let me share some of mine with you. Because of the gospel,
- I will spend eternity with Jesus rather than eternity in Hell.
- I am a child of God with full access to the Father through prayer.
- Sin no longer has me enslaved.
- I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me.
- I have friends who love me and serve me rather than use and abuse me.
- I have a purpose for my life.
- I am not consumed by stress and anxiety.
- I have a Father who works out all things for my good.
- I can speak truth into the lives of those I love.
- I am a better husband, father, and friend.
This was 2 minutes of thinking for me. I don’t think of these things enough, but when I do, you know what happens? Christ’s love compels me to tell people about how amazing Jesus is.
You must consider these truths daily if you hope to be compelled by Christ’s love.
2. Credibility Matters:
My first summer at Kaleo, the Lord placed a heavy burden on my heart. It was that I was unsure that my parents understood the gospel. I thought, “it is my job to share this with them, or they may not be saved.” You can imagine what my approach was when I got home. I had my parents sit down on the couch, I pulled out a Romans 6:23 card, and I shared the gospel with them. After I finished, I hoped the tears would be flowing, and my parents would see the light of the gospel just like I had the first time I heard it, but instead, I just got blank stares. Then one of them said something like, “that is a neat illustration.” That was the last time we talked about it that directly.
Four years later, at my rehearsal dinner, there was an open mic time for our friends and family to speak encouragement over Natalie and me. I will never forget my mom’s words on that night. She said, “the first time I think understood the gospel was when you showed it to me when you came back from Kaleo, but it was watching your life out your faith over the next year that solidified it.” My mom knew me better than anyone else. She had been a part of many faith-based programs I had returned home from with a spiritual passion and then watched them fade back into my old lifestyle. She needed to see that what I was saying was backed by what I was going to do.
Your family and friends need to hear the gospel and SEE the gospel. The heart that the gospel has truly transformed will not look the same. The gospel is powerful. The message doesn’t need you to succeed. But God has, can, and will use how we live to bring authenticity to the gospel to unbelievers. Our goal should be to be able to say confidently as Paul did to the Thessalonians in chapter 2 verse 8,
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV): So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
Paul had a readiness to share the gospel and his life. This means that Paul wasn’t ashamed of his lifestyle but had confidence that it only strengthened the gospel message. We must consider our actions as well vigorously. Yes, we must use our lips to communicate the gospel message. Still, as we do, we must be continually allowing the gospel to transform our own lives so that we model the message we are preaching.
Take 4 minutes and write out your answer to these two questions.
What areas of your life were a poor representation of Christ to your family and friends before you came to Kaleo?
In what ways can you purposively live out the light of Christ to your family and friends when you return home?
3. Planning and Strategy Matter:
Planning and strategy in evangelism get a bad rep. There is a philosophy that many college students are drawn to, including myself at one point, that suggests that evangelism should be natural. This philosophy criticizes strategies such as:
- Setting up a lunch appointment to talk about spiritual things.
- Craft out a line to use when you want to talk about spiritual things.
- Sitting down and thinking of a strategy with who you want to share the gospel.
- Meeting weekly at a coffee shop to help someone grow spiritually.
I would bet that many of you have had or will have these same thoughts. Typically these thoughts are associated with a very pure desire. You want to avoid ministry feeling like a job or a program, and the person your meeting with feeling like a project. That’s fair. I want that too, but the solution is not to set aside planning or strategy.
The word plan is used 12 times in the Proverbs. The Proverbs are passages of wisdom written by the wisest man (outside of Jesus) ever to live. Here are a few of them.
Proverbs 21:5 (NIV): The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Proverbs 16:3 (NIV): Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
The first disciples demonstrated planning as well. In the book of Acts, Paul had a custom he follows every time he entered a new city. A custom is just another word for plan. He would go first to the synagogue with the hope of converting some Jewish people. Then he would take them and begin doing ministry to the Gentiles. His plan was also very strategic. Since the Jews were very familiar with the Old Testament, Paul could jump straight to Jesus. Then after he had a few conversions, he could go to the gentile world with more help. He had a plan and a strategy.
If this isn’t enough to convince, God himself has many plans and strategies. Why did God choose the nation of Israel? Was it random? No, they were centrally located to be a light to all of the other nations (Isaiah 49:6). God is a God of order, not chaos. From the very beginning, when God created, he brought order. All of creation operated in harmony. It was planned and strategic!
When we are planned and strategic, we reflect the God we serve. Not only that, anyone who has ever transitioned from a carefree life to one that is planned has experienced this first hand. For example:
- Try starting a sleep schedule from 10 pm-6 am for a month and see how it goes. You will never go back.
- Try planning out your week on Sunday for 30 minutes, and be prepared to experience its beauty.
- Clean up after yourself and enjoy the pleasure of knowing where things are.
- Study for a test a week in advance rather than pulling a few all-nighters. The stress and anxiety of test weeks will fade away. You will still be able to make all of your other weekly commitments during mid-terms. It’s glorious!
- Plan out your spiritual growth for an entire month rather than just winging it.
The fruit of planning and strategy will always prevail in all areas of your life.
If planning is beneficial in practically every area of our lives. Why would we think it any different in the areas of evangelism?
How do you plan and strategize in evangelism? Three practical steps.
- Evangelism Prayer Journal: Begin praying for those you know that are lost and asking God to open a door for you to share the gospel.
- Open the door for Opportunity: Purposely spend time with the people you want to share the gospel with.
- Be Prepared when the Opportunity presents itself (shorten this): When the opportunities come, take them!
Take 5 minutes and answer the question below.
List five people that don’t know Jesus that you can begin praying for today?
A Few Final Thoughts
Before we bring this time to a close, it is essential to remember a few statements for clarification.
Statement 1: Your motivations, credibility, and plans serve a purpose, but they are not what will cause someone’s heart to be transformed. Only God, by the Holy Spirit, does this!
Statement 2: By the grace of God, there are times when opportunities to share fall into your lap. There is no time to worry about everything mentioned above; seize the opportunity and share the gospel!
Statement 3: Don’t carry the weight of someone’s salvation on your shoulders. We must realize that God will not let a single sheep in his flock be lost forever. This is important for two reasons. First, we can share the gospel faithfully and boldly, knowing that God has gone before us and we will never mess anything up. Second, when our family and friends respond negatively, we will not be defeated. God is in control, knows everything, and cares much more for those people than we do.
We live in a period where division and anger are the cultural norms. There is brokenness in every direction we look. The temptation today for Christians is to put our energies towards all of these individual problems. Still, we must pause and consider the problem that is at the root of all these issues. Since Genesis 3, the problem has been the same. It is the problem of the sin-filled heart. All other problems stem from this root, and the root of sin has only one thing that can remove it, the gospel! In light of this, let us consider our motivations, our credibility, and our plans and strategy as we share the gospel. Let us move forward with boldness to proclaim the message that truly has the power to save this broken world.