Evangelism Course Preview:
Goals, Motivation, & Success
Later this month we are launching our online evangelism course! It is the culmination of decades of evangelism experience (put together by introverts, extroverts, and ordinary people who can be intimidated to share the Gospel at times!). We will announce more of the details in the coming weeks. But for now, enjoy a free preview of the evangelism course!
“Only the sheer rapture of being lost in the worship of God is as exhilarating and intoxicating as telling someone about Jesus Christ.”
Imagine it’s a bright and beautiful day. The sun is out and beckoning you to venture outdoors. You decide to go for a quick walk before your day begins. You feel great. In this moment, you’re one of those people who is obnoxiously happy – you’re whistling a happy tune and maybe even inwardly praising God for such a beautiful day. It is a great morning.
Without warning, however, Jeff, your neighbor, crashes his car a few yards ahead of you into the side of a building. The car is totaled, airbags are deployed, and Jeff seems to be unconscious and on the brink of death. You rush over, eager to help. But here’s the question:
Will you be able to help him?
We can’t answer that, because we don’t know you. But there are four different version of “you” that could potentially seek to help Jeff:
- The “You” who calls 911 and is unable to do anything more.
- The “You” who took a first aid and CPR training class last summer — but you can’t remember any of it. You end up just having to call 911 in spite of your training.
- The “You” who not only received training, but you also practiced enough to help a little bit. It’s a bit awkward and not the best help, but you’re able to do something.
- The “You” who knows how to save lives: not only do you know how to provide first aid, but you have done it many times and are quite comfortable with it. You know how to respond to a wide variety of emergencies because you have mastered the basics and practiced it for a long time. You don’t just have theoretical knowledge, but you have practical knowledge (or “know-how”).
How well prepared are you to respond to emergency situations? Which of the four situations above describes you? These are important questions, but an even more crucial question is this:
How well prepared are you to respond to Gospel situations?
We all would like to be able to respond well to an emergency. In the same way, Christians ought to be able to respond well to opportunities to preach the Gospel. We want to always be prepared, as Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15.
Imagine yourself in a few “Gospel opportunities.” How well prepared are you to engage? We’ll start with some easy ones:
- Your friend asks you what it means to be a Christian.
- You’re on a plane, reading the Bible, and someone sitting next to you asks you what you’re reading.
- A friend asks you: “What do you think the meaning of life is?”
Each of these are very clear Gospel opportunities. Are you prepared to respond? All born again Christians want to, but many freeze up when the opportunities arise. Here are some less obvious opportunities:
- Your friend casually says that all religions are the same.
- You’re sitting next to someone on an airplane who (shockingly) doesn’t have headphones on and seems willing to talk.
- A co-worker asks what you’re doing this weekend.
These three examples take a bit of forethought to know how to engage, but it’s clear that they provide an opportunity for the Gospel. Finally, consider some situations that might not seem like opportunities at first:
- You have a friend who doesn’t know Jesus but would be happy to meet up for coffee if you were to ask.
- You live near a park, college campus, or intersection where people frequently walk through or hang out.
- You have a next-door neighbor you haven’t ever invited over for dinner.
As you can see, there are a lot of different contexts in which you could share the Gospel. With all of these, how ready are you to respond or take action?
Choose the one that fits you the best.
- The Christian who simply doesn’t know the Gospel well enough to explain it to others. Like the “you” who calls 911, the only option you feel you have is to invite people like Jeff to church.
- The Christian who has some knowledge of the Gospel, but you aren’t able to actually share it. You might be like the person who has received first aid training but can’t figure out how to turn that knowledge into action. Yes, you could sit down and write out the Gospel, but you don’t know how to articulate it in a conversation or when you feel under pressure.
- The Christian who not only knows the Gospel, but you share it! It might still be somewhat awkward for you, and you might not be the best at responding to surprises, but you can articulate the basics.
- The Christian who not only knows the Gospel and is able to share it, but you’ve lived with it and shared it for so long that you know the ins and outs of the Gospel. You’ve mastered the basics of the Message, and the Message has mastered you.
Take a moment to reflect. How ready do you feel you are to engage people in spiritual conversations when the opportunities present themselves? Of the nine “Gospel Opportunities” listed above, which ones seemed most and least doable for you? Are you a 911 Christian, or are you prepared to be a first responder? (Don’t be discouraged if you rank yourself at a “1” or a “2”; thank God for the opportunity to grow, and thank God for the Gospel that forgives our failing to speak of Jesus.)
[At this point in the online evangelism course, there will be a text box where you can type in your answers and save it in a journal. But for right now, take out a piece of paper and write down the number.]
Now write down the opportunities that YOU have. Look back at the nine examples above. What specific opportunities arise in your life?
[Again, take a second to actually write down the opportunities you have!]
Let’s get more specific. What does success look like for you as you seek to share your faith? Many people picture evangelism as going door-to-door, street preaching, passing out tracts, and seeing people come to Christ on the spot. In other words, they associate success with a specific method or result. For this workbook, however, we define success this way:
Success: being able to have spiritual conversations when given the opportunity in everyday life.
That’s it! You are already in conversations with friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family. The goal is to be able to turn those conversations in a spiritual direction, creating the opportunity to share your faith in Jesus. For this workbook, our exhortation to you is this: take the next step in your ability to have Gospel conversations in everyday conversations.
With this definition of success in mind let’s, take a moment to rid our minds of any false notions of success. Here are some things success does not mean:
- Success does not mean having a Gospel conversation with every person you see. We often get into an “always or never” mentality that keeps us from speaking up at all.
- Success is not determined by the number of souls you win or by being a better evangelist than your friends, your church, or your small group. Your goal is to simply speak of Jesus when given the opportunity. Leave the results to God. Jesus is the Savior of the world – not you. Besides, it is unrealistic to think each conversation will lead to salvation: the Bible teaches that some sow, some water, and others reap. (See John 4:34-38 and 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.)
- Success does not mean forcing conversations to continue when it is clear the conversation is not fruitful. If the other person doesn’t want to talk, don’t force it. There is nothing godly about a Gospel hostage situation.
- Success doesn’t mean never being scared. We all can get nervous when sharing our faith. It’s actually quite normal. Sharing your faith is the adventure of a lifetime. In fact, it is spiritual warfare: we war against Satan, who has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). It is normal to get nervous when going to war.
- If you are currently at a “1” in your ability to share your faith (see the list above), success doesn’t mean jumping straight to “4.” Of course, that’s the ultimate goal, and you can get there! But for now the goal is to go from “1” to “2.” Just take the next step.
Now, we’re going to ask you to do something important. Most likely, you came into this chapter with some expectations about evangelism. Probably, you had (and have) some fears. What causes those fears? Many people have very deep fears about sharing their faith, and many of those fears are the result of faulty definitions of success. If you think that successful evangelism means you have to win someone to Christ that moment, then a conversation can become extremely intimidating. That’s a lot of pressure. Think of what false definitions of success have been holding you captive to fear:
[Grab your paper again! Write down the unhelpful definitions of success you’ve had. Identify them. When you put them on paper, they lose a lot of their power over you.]
Why are you reading this preview of our online evangelism course? Probably because you want to become a better witness for Jesus. But why do you want to be a better witness? It is possible to do good actions (like sharing the Gospel) for poor motivations. Take a second to check your motives. Pray this prayer as you write: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24). Ask God to show you any false motivations you might have for sharing the Gospel. Is there any basic need that you have (to feel loved, to feel important, etc.) that you are trusting in evangelism for instead of God?
[You might need a second piece of paper by now! Be sure to actually write down your answers.]
Here are some poor motivations for sharing the Gospel:
- Share the Gospel, but don’t do it to try to win God’s love. Too often it seems some Christians share the Gospel because they don’t believe the Gospel. What do we mean? Simply this: if you could truly believe the Gospel day-to-day, which tells you that you are 100% loved and accepted because of Jesus’ righteousness, you wouldn’t feel the need to try to earn God’s love through the good work of evangelism.
- Share the Gospel, but don’t do it as if the eternal destiny of these souls rested entirely on you. Remember these two truths: (1) God can use someone besides you; (2) God would love to use you. See both of these examples in Mordecai’s advice to Esther: “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
- Share the Gospel, but don’t do it as a way to impress others. Meditate on Philippians 2:1–11, noting just how “low” in humility Jesus went for our salvation. The proper response to such a humble Savior is to preach as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 2:3, “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling.”
So, what is the proper motivation? There are at least three:
- Obedience to Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). We preach the Gospel because Jesus, our Lord and commander, told us to. And as John reminds us: “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Think about it: when have you regretted obedience? Never! It’s hard, but it’s always the path to true happiness.
- Compassion for the lost: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ… Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:10–11). When you love someone, you want their good. So, the most loving thing you can do for someone is to help them know God, who is ultimate goodness. Love also desires that the person they love avoid suffering, especially eternal suffering.
- To be with Jesus Christ: “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ” (Philemon 1:6). At the end of the day, the ultimate reason why we share the Gospel is so we can be closer to Jesus. He Himself said that there is only “one thing necessary”: to simply be with Jesus (see Luke 10:38–42). And where is Jesus? One missionary put it well: “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.”
Evangelism Course Preview: Summary of Chapter
- The goal: to be able to respond well to Gospel opportunities.
- Success: to be able to have spiritual conversations when given the opportunity.
- Motivations: obedience, compassion, and simply being with Jesus on the front lines.
We hope you enjoyed this preview of our online evangelism course preview! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook so you can be sure to hear the latest about our evangelism course!
 Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 119.
 Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 127.