11 Evangelism Misconceptions in the Church
We recently asked over social media: “What are some evangelism misconceptions in the church?” We received so many good answers that we wanted to turn them into a blog post and add our own thoughts.
Evangelism Misconception #1. It’s the Pastor’s Job
This may be one of the biggest evangelism misconceptions in the church today. As we have covered in this podcast, it is simply not true that evangelism is to be done exclusively or even primarily by a pastor or paid evangelist. We base this off Ephesians 4:11-12.
And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
This passage mentions “shepherds,” which is a New Testament term for pastors. It also mentions evangelists. And they both have the same job description.
- Their job description is NOT: “to do the work of the ministry.”
- Their job description IS: “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”
The pastor and evangelist’s job isn’t to do evangelism for you. It’s do get you to the place where you can do it!
#2. People Don’t Want to Talk About Faith
If you think someone is going to be mad about what you have to say, it’s a lot harder to start the conversation. Thankfully, people are quite happy to talk about spiritual things! God created us in His image, and “He has put eternity into man’s heart.”
This desire to know God is within each of us. Yet many cultural forces try to shame us into thinking that a desire to talk about God is “fanatical.” By asking someone a question about God, you are essentially granting them permission to be human.
As one comment said: “I usually find people are willing to talk about the major questions in life if asked and then listened to with respect.”
#3. I’ll Just Evangelize Through the Way I Live!
This is another one of those big evangelism misconceptions. In the New Testament, the word for “preach” means “announce openly and publicly.” The Gospel is good news. You cannot communicate historical events through a lifestyle. No matter how sad I act, you will never know what exactly is making me sad. And no matter how happy I am, you will never know what exactly is making me happy. It needs to be communicated with words.
Evangelism Misconception #4. [Blank Evangelism Method] Is the Best Way to Evangelize
The Bible never gives us a method of evangelism. It gives us the Gospel message: Jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of sins. But Scripture doesn’t give us a step-by-step plan for how to communicate that message. The method should not be chosen beforehand. Instead, the method should be determined by (1) the Christian sharing the Gospel, (2) the person receiving the Gospel, and (3) the leading of the Holy Spirit in the moment.
#5. Evangelism Is Mostly Done With Strangers
Yes, we certainly can share our faith with strangers! But the message of the Gospel flows more smoothly through pre-existing networks of people. Focus on the 3, 15, or 50 people you know the best. From those people, can you do anything to reach out to them, set up a time to talk, or maybe send them a good book on the Gospel? (Click here for more information about how to reach out to family and friends.)
#6. The Main Motivation for Evangelism is a Heart for the Lost
Compassion for the lost is definitely part of our motivation! But it isn’t the whole story. It reminds us of what the ministry EvanTell tweeted in response to our question:
One of the biggest misconceptions about evangelism is that we must pursue it out of guilt, not out of grace.
They go on to share more about it in this article.
So, what motivations should we have? One motivation is simply the desire to be with Christ. As missionary Lesslie Newbigin has said:
The one who has been called and loved by the Lord, the one who wishes to love and serve the Lord, will want to be where he is. And where he is is on that frontier which runs between the kingdom of God and the usurped power of the evil one… At the heart of mission is simply the desire to be with Him and to give Him the service of our lives.
Another motivation is simply to glorify God. One commenter wrote:
It might sound cliché, but the main motivation is to glorify God. I’ve heard many missionaries say that they went to the mission field with compassion for the lost, but over time that compassion would fade. In some cases, they would be persecuted by these people. One missionary spoke of how the people they were trying to reach shot poisonous darts at him, his wife, and kids. He said he didn’t feel very much compassion for them at that time. The desire to bear witness for Jesus because he is worthy should sustain us throughout any persecution.
Evangelism Misconception #7. Inviting Someone to Church Is the Best Thing Most People Can Do
This is similar to believing that only professional speakers can carry on a productive conversation, or that only professional musicians should be allowed to sing! Anyone who can talk can communicate the Gospel.
#8. You Shouldn’t Impose or Force Your Beliefs upon Others
This is an interesting objection to evangelism. On the one hand, it’s odd to say “you shouldn’t force your beliefs on others” – because that very claim is an attempt to force a belief on someone else.
If you think about it, all learning comes about when one person imparts knowledge to someone else. This doesn’t have to be a “forcing” or an “imposition.” We can’t force someone to believe. But telling them that we think they should is far different from forcing them to!
#9. It’s Always Wrong to Evangelize at Work
One commenter on Facebook wrote:
I’ve often heard it said, “Your boss is paying you to work, not to evangelize.” This is absolutely true, but I don’t think it addresses a common problem. For the few Christians who are slacking on their work because they’re evangelizing, sure they need to remember to maintain a good testimony in front of their employer and get their work done.
But for me, work has been a great place to evangelize at a few different jobs. Typically, I was going above and beyond in my work already and my bosses were pleased with my work. I had no moral qualms with talking about spiritual things with my co-workers.
Especially if you are working a job where you and your co-workers are talking while working anyways, why not talk about what matters most?
#10 Extroverts Are Always Better at Evangelism
It’s true that extroverts can be better at beginning Gospel conversations. But a very important aspect of evangelism in today’s world is listening, and introverts tend to be better listeners. God is calling people of all personality types to embrace their gifts as well as step out of their comfort zones for the sake of the Gospel.
Evangelism Misconception #11. If You Didn’t Call Them to Repentance, You Didn’t Do Evangelism
Some people think that if you don’t give a clear invitation to receive Christ, then you didn’t share the Gospel. When you have the opportunity, this is definitely something you should do! But it is simply unnatural and awkward to force a call for repentance when the person is clearly not ready to respond.
By the way, repentance isn’t about fixing up your life – it’s about turning to God. Click here to read more about the definition of repentance.
Bonus! I Need to Add Evangelism to My Schedule
We tend to think the only way to evangelize is to set aside time on your schedule to do it. And since many are pressed for time, they think that there is no way they can make time for evangelism.
Paul said in Ephesians 2:10 that there are “good works” that “God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Evangelism is a good work. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that God has prepared opportunities for you to share your faith beforehand. Think about it! Thousands of years before you ever existed, God had plans for who you would talk to about the Gospel. All you need to do is open your eyes to see the opportunities, ask the courage to seize those moments, and then speak up!
Thankfully, sharing your faith doesn’t need to be an extra add-on to your life. In fact, our whole goal with Engage 360 is to help you have spiritual conversations in your everyday life. Certainly, it is great to go out once a week and pass out tracts and talk to strangers. That’s wonderful, and everyone on our staff has done that! However, the goal is to get to the point where it’s a part of the ebb and flow of our daily lives.
 Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 127.