By Terry Ivy
When we examine the Biblical text we find another stark contrast between evangelism in the modern church verses what it looked like in the New Testament church. Today, for the most part and with few exceptions, evangelism is relegated to and seen as the responsibility of Pastors and Evangelists. Pastors, because they are continually teaching and preaching to inquirers and visitors on Sunday mornings. Evangelists, because soul winning is innate to their gifting and the thrust of their talents and calling. (Much could be said about this, but it would take us off topic.)
Evangelism in the New Testament church was an immediate and ordinary action following conversion to Jesus as Lord. Fishing for men became the instant and expected norm of a new believer. Today, we make converts comfortably inactive by giving them all the excuses why they need to wait: you’re not prepared, you need to learn, you are not an evangelist, bring your friends to church, get your friends to call the Pastor, etc…
However, in the New Testament we see that converts were instantly evangelistic. Here are some examples.
- The Demoniac of Gadara – Jesus would not let the man leave the area and join Him. Instead, He told the man to go home and tell his friends all what God had done for him. (Mk. 5:18-20)
- Saul of Tarsus – Immediately begin proclaiming Jesus. (Acts 9:20)
- Believers in Thessalonica – Immediately sounded out the Gospel to Macedonia and Achaia within a few short months. (1Thess. 1:8)
The very moment a person is born of the Spirit through the message of the gospel, they have a testimony and a message to share! That message should not become weighed down with over technical terms and cliches’. The message of the gospel contained in the present explanation of a new child is immediately effective for them to reach their friends and common people group.
Sure, a person’s understanding and the depth of of the message will grow with training, experience and study. However, let us release the new converts to connect with their friends with the depth of language they understand. Evangelism is the right and privilege of anyone born again. The early church demonstrated it. The modern church has ‘clergyfied’ it. Let us get back to the biblical pattern of expecting new converts to “go home and tell their friends.” If they are genuinely born of the Spirit, this will not require effort…only encouragement and freedom.
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