So, how are we going to win our town for Christ? Which program should we consider? Which direct mail campaign seems promising? What community activity might we piggy-back on to share the Gospel? These are the questions many churches spend a lot of time trying to answer as they consider how they might impact their communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The problem with these kinds of questions however is that if all our evangelism turns out to be are programs and events we have missed the heart of what make up the core elements of evangelism which are loving Jesus, loving people, and loving life.
Strategies, plans, programs, activities, and events are not wrong. However, like the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, if we have the best of evangelistic strategies but do not have “love” we are simply making a lot of noise when we should be making a lot of disciples. Strategies and programs work best when accompanied by and in fact motivated by love—for Christ, for people, and for life.
Enthusiasm for evangelism does not begin with evangelism. Being told we must evangelize or being made to feel guilty about not evangelizing just leave us feeling empty and of course—guilty, but they do little to produce disciples. You and I will never attract people to Jesus if we are not excited about Jesus. Enthusiasm about and passion for Jesus creates interest in Jesus. People who are in love with Jesus, whose passion is Jesus, and who love to talk about Jesus because He really matters to them will naturally be evangelistic. They won’t be able to help themselves.
The second core element in evangelism is loving people. When we really love people we will desire to love them to Jesus. Loving people just enough to build a relationship with them but not enough to ever share Jesus with them is not true love. True love desires to meet real needs in other people’s lives. These needs we desire to meet will be physical, emotional, social, and if we really love them—spiritual. True love—biblical love does not merely bring a person bread to eat without also at some point share with him the Bread of Life.
Finally, the third essential core element in evangelism is loving life. Christians who do not love life make very poor evangelists. Believers who know their Bibles understand that God has given us life not only to live but to enjoy. Certainly, some days and some seasons of life are harder and more difficult to enjoy than others but the believer who knows his Bible, trusts his God, and believes the promises of God has every reason to find joy in living even on the hard days. And it is when we find that illusive joy on those days when the clouds seems their darkest that the unbeliever sits up and takes notice that we have a hope they don’t have.
This love of life can also be discerned as an interest in life—as seeing all of life as God’s theater in which He is displaying His glory. Believers who are not interested in life and not captivated by anything about life and thus cannot enter into other people’s lives don’t make very good evangelists. Life is the bridge the Gospel uses to capture people’s attention. Enthusiasm about life and God’s good gifts which He grants all of us, believer and unbeliever alike, enables us to connect around a common denominator with people who do not yet know that what they are enjoying is God’s gift.
Perhaps, if we Christians did a better job at enjoying Jesus, people, and life we wouldn’t have to work so hard at evangelism. We enjoy what we love and we are passionate about that which we love to enjoy. If Jesus is Who we love and we enjoy Him so much we can’t help but share Him with the people we love enjoying life with—we may find evangelism happening and we never even handed out a tract.