For many Christians to evangelize is only an unpleasant bible obligation. Many evangelize motivated by feeling of guilty: “If I do not evangelize, God will charge on me”. The result is a discharge either of conscience or to turn others blameworthy. That is sad, but some do not want to win people, they just want to turn them unforgivable.
However, the evangelism, as God has planned, cannot be motivated by those reasons above. We must have duty genuinely – as priests – putting ourselves in the gap for lives salvation. The evangelism as God has planned must be a natural reaction. Our heart must be full, for out of the abundance of the hearts his mouth speaks. Jesus says on Luke 6.45: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Therefore, for a believer filled with the Holy Spirit to evangelize is not an order, though it is an attitude almost inevitable. How can I restrain myself from speaking what is in my heart? How is it possible that I keep silence if my heart is full of it? Due to our mentality, evangelism is a biblical preaching; however due to the Lord mind, evangelism is express what our heart is full of.
However, this is the problem: some have the heart full of other things, because those who have the heart full of God, when talk to someone, inevitably will go talk about spiritual things.
I remember of having prayed for all my colleagues from my high school. There was a time, when I was 15 or 16 years old and my nickname was “Reverend” because they wanted a nickname that would translate my attitude to them. In our talks anything, soon or later, resulted in something about God.
Evangelizing should be something spontaneous. For many, though, it is almost a neurosis. I have already gotten neurosis once. I used to go out home with brochures in my pocket, in my folder, and used to think: “I have to preach at the bus’ door, inside the bus, in my classroom, everywhere”. At night, I used to get distressed for I did not preach. Until the day, I understood that is not about obsession, but being full of the Holy Spirit. According I am full of Him, the subject of gospel come out naturally when I am talking.
When I graduated, were nineteen on my class, out of it fourteen had converted. The last one converted a little bit ago. Then I can say that in my high school class everyone was converted. Neither because I was perfect nor better than anyone was. I simply spoke of what was alive within me.
Once my brother in law who is not converted and lived in USA came to Brasil and asked me to stay in our house. He had never stayed with us; because of this, we fasted, prayed and planned to preach for him. When he arrived, we got so involved that we forgot about all the situations we had planned to testify for him. We just stayed together, hanging out, dinner, we even took him to the service.
When he was about to go home, my wife remembered me that I had not preached for him yet. Then, I came to him and said that I had something very serious to talk to him. I said to him that he could not go home without talking about Jesus to him. He looked at me and said: “Do you want to talk more?” You do not talk about anything else! He said that all the time, everywhere, we talked about Jesus. I liked he has talked this about me, for it was my testimony of a style of life, a way for living.
There is a stereotype of evangelist: someone yelling somewhere at the corner, talking frenetically about fire of hell, punching the bible and seemed simply annoying to the skeptical. Many sincere believers discard evangelism because they do not feel willing in this style and, wrongly, presume that everyone need act as the same way whether desire to evangelize. This is a big lost for the church.
There are many styles of evangelism when there are evangelists. For a world, so varied as ours, with cultures differences, personality, social position, scholarly, God has prepared also an army of evangelists with different styles. We do not have to transform ourselves in something that we are not for us being evangelists. We do need the power, anointing, prayer, holiness and dependency on God, but we can do it all even being ourselves and evangelizing into a style that is familiar and comfortable for us.
Bill Hybels suggest many styles of evangelist in his book “The Contagious Christian”. It is a great relief to understand that we can be used by God even though we have a peculiar way to act and be. God uses extroverted people, but people introverted are used as well. Even those simpler as more intellectualized are useful. We do not need violating ourselves trying to be or act as an extravagant way. We can be very fruitful exactly as we are.
I. The Confrontational Style of Peter
In his first reaching, Peter confronted the Jews saying that were they who crucified Jesus:
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter was a proactive man: he was always the first to talk, move and react. He walked above waters, cut the soldier ear off. He was impetuous.
Those who have Peter Style are aggressive, quickly expose gospel and request an immediate answer. They are not diplomatic people, full of carefully elaborated collocation; however, they express themselves in a decisive and straight way. Usually those who have Peter style bear fruits quicker, but also are they who experience the biggest resistance and rejection.
This is not about whether it is right or wrong, though it is about style. If you are like Peter, stay in peace. The Lord will send you for those who need to listen to the gospel by confrontation ways.
II. The Intellectual of Paul
Usually Paul used your intellectual style to evangelize, for he was very cult, extremely smart and able to find irrefutable argument. People from this style normally like to do apologia of faith, defense of the gospel, and they do not care about be involved in debates and intellectual discussions.
For those people to testimony the gospel involve also presenting real proofs of all truths of faith. They are great expert of the Bible and do not feel intimidated when questioned, because they always have an appropriated answer. They rather put you against the wall without alternative but place into Christ respect.
Once, in Athena, Paul cleverly used the altar to unknown God as a way to present the gospel.
For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. (Acts 17.23)
Is not it fantastic? Paul used as a bait the altar to unknown God for saying to the Greeks that the Lord was just who they did not know. The Greeks was very religious and worshiped a thousand of gods, but fearing that some unknown god could anger against them, they made to them an altar.
If was Peter preaching over there he would say: “Idolater! You need to repent! For behind those idols there is devils”. Certainly, what he say would be correct, but I believe that was not the best style to evangelize those intellectualized Athenians. Some people need a presentation of the gospel more persuasively and academically. They do not let be confronted, need to be persuaded.
“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some
Of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.”
The Lord knows that each kind of person need a specific style of evangelism, He has chosen different styles for His church so we can reach everyone. We do not need to question which style is more effective, though we just need to know which one is more effective for a determined situation or group of people.
III – The Style of the Blind Testimony
This is the style that Jesus used to heal the blind on John 8. The Lord passed spit on his eyes and sent him away to clean himself. When he cleaned himself, he stared to see. Then, the Pharisees called and asked him about has healed him. The blind man had not seen Jesus, because he just started to see after he washed his eyes, so his answering was emblematic:
“Who he is, I do not know, I just know I was blind and now I see” (Jo 9.25).
This type of testimony everyone need to learn since conversion. Actually, it is the way of the newborn evangelize. If someone ask to you anything about Jesus, Bible or Church, he just answer “This I still do not know, I just know I was addicted and I was delivered”; “I only know I was drunk and I am lucid”. That is the best testimony you may bear, for against facts there is no arguments. The people may have many considerations about church and Bible, but they have no alternative but recognize that people was transformed.
This type of evangelist does not confront nor intellectualize. He or she just tell a story of what God made in his or her life. The only condition for this type is to have a real experience of healing, deliverance or transformation. Once we have such experience, we do not need to preach the Bible; we must only testify about what God made in our life and challenge people to have the same experience.
The blind man did not confront as Peter nor persuaded them with arguments, as Paul would do, he just testified of your own experience. I usually say that I am not good in telling testimony, simply because my testimony is very insipid. My history summed up into a series of “never”. I´ve never drunk. I´ve never used drugs and I married virgin. If you show me a drug I do not know to recognize because I´ve never seen it in person. Maybe that´s why I feel more comfortable in Paul style, because my and Paul story are alike. However, a brother, that was a drunk, has something to give as testimony and people will certainly stop to listen to him, at least the drinkers will listen to him.
IV. The Faith Sharing Style of the Gerasenes
On Mark 5.1-20, we read a story about the possessed Gerasen. After Jesus delivered him, he begged to Jesus to follow on Him, but the Lord sent him to his house for he testified for his family. He wanted to be the thirteenth disciple, he wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus did not allow it, before, he commanded him to go back home.
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:18-19
For the most of us, is hard to approach an unknown to present a testimony, knock to the door of a strange to evangelize. The majority are shy, although this do not take the responsibility to testify. Those people can share faith with their families. They can bleach their parents with prayer and fast and after present to them as the love of God has changed their lives.
V. The relational style of Matthew.
After this, he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me. ”And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. Luke 5.27-29
The Matthew style point out to those who are known, professional and recognized for his competence. It is the executive well related in your company. Matthew was a tax collector and so he had many friends. He certainly was a prosperous man.
After accepting the invitation of being a disciple of Jesus, he decided to do everything possible to attract his friends. Therefore, in Luke 5.29, we can see he organized a big party for all his colleagues for put them in touch with Jesus. The interesting is that Matthew did not make a religious meeting. If it were we, probably we would make a service, and for this, we would lose opportunities to influence. The people are not open for a religious ceremony, but they open themselves for a party on your house.
We need to identify those who are Matthew and teach them to use his influence to evangelize. Not a type of associated with religion, but those who we can be exposed while we eat a good barbecue, for example.
Unfortunately, after people conversion, eventually they lose all their friendships with non-believers. Therefore, they lose those connections and friends that let us evangelize.
This situation happen because we concentrate our attentions in the life of Church and the communion with brothers, but also because even non-believers friends will depart from you when they perceive you do not have the same values.
We do not want them to call you friend of sinners that is why we stop of keeping in touch with the non-believers. However, it is interesting because was that Pharisees told to Jesus.
“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5 30-32
This style prioritize our net of relationships. Matthew did not confront nor challenged intellectually, just developed the friendship between them. Matthew invited them to his house, he wanted to invite them. There are people who have this extraordinary facility to make friends. With few words and a good conversation, they can get attention of anyone. Those certainly are like Mathew inside the church.
VI. The style of the Samaritan Woman Invitation
On John 4, we have the Samaritan woman history. After meeting Jesus, she went to the city and invited the people to come, also to hear and meet Jesus. The Samaritan was an evangelist of invitation.
“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.”
On the time of my conversion, the work of believers practically summed up on inviting people for hearing the evangelist preaching of Sunday. Certainly, it is a big lost for the church; we restrict the ministry of believers just for an eventual done to an unbeliever. However, we cannot despise this kind of evangelism. Inviting someone to participate is very important. Even if the message is not evangelistic, the visitor is always impacted.
The Lord had not done any miracle for the Samarian woman. He just preached and revealed as Messiah. She went away and invited all city to hear him. Many are neither confronters nor intellectuals, also does not have a dramatic testimony to tell. However, they can invite people for coming to the service.
VII. The style of service of Dorcas
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity.
Dorcas used to evangelize doing good works. She used to sew clothes for the poor ones and distribute in name of Jesus. Her acts of goodness attracted many for Christ.