What are several practices Christians commonly mistake for evangelism?
- Personal testimony. Talking about what God has done in your life may encourage Christians and intrigue non-Christians, but it isn’t necessarily evangelism. Evangelism is telling what Jesus Christ has done to save every sinner who will ever turn from his sin and trust in Jesus.
- Social action. When we care for the poor, defend the defenseless, and work for a more just society we may commend the gospel, but we haven’t yet shared it. Evangelism is telling others the gospel. Contrary to the opinion of some, that can’t be done without words!
- Apologetics. Defending the faith against unbelievers’ objections can lead to evangelism, but apologetics is not evangelism. Apologetics can be a useful tool, but if we’re not careful it can actually distract us from evangelism, which is telling the good news about Jesus Christ.
- The results of evangelism. We can share the gospel. We cannot make anyone believe it. Thinking that we haven’t evangelized unless people have been converted is a serious error that can cripple Christians with a sense of failure and guilt. But if we recognize that our job is merely to tell others the good news about Christ, we are liberated to simply preach the gospel and pray for God to change hearts.
(This material has been adapted from The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever, 69-82)