And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. –Mark 16:15
In my last article, I wrote an open letter to open-air preachers to love the people of God. As I was writing it I realized that there are a lot of street evangelist who may be wondering, what do I do with my churches apathy to street evangelism? Although I can not say I know every reason someone does not want to preach the gospel, I would like to provide four reasons I know definitely discourage evangelism.
There are false converts in your church
Now, don’t misrepresent what I am suggesting. I’m not saying that a lack of desire to evangelize is a definite sign someone isn’t saved. However, it also is not a sign of great faith. The truth of the matter is that there are a great plenty of false converts in the church today. How do I know this? Because Jesus himself spoke of this reality in Matthew 13:24-30:
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
This parable is in reference to the visible Church. It can be difficult to determine who is a genuine Christian and who is simply professing with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. Your church may have no desire to evangelize if a large portion of them are unconverted themselves. They have no passion for sharing the gospel because they do not truly believe it.
The way to handle this group is to do what you do best, preach the gospel. We should always be giving the gospel to those outside the church as well as to those inside the church. The people of God will not be turned away from the gospel, it will encourage them and sanctify them. Don’t just assume the guy sitting next to you in the pew has truly repented and put their faith in Christ.
There are people who are scared
Some people are frightened at the idea of sharing the gospel on the street corner or with friends and family. Fears can range from believing they’re not smart enough to being afraid that their friends will hate them.
The way to handle this is to constantly encourage people. Tell them how it was scary for you at first and the courage God gave you through sanctification–that we must always rely on His strength to preach. Christ uses the foolish to confound the wise. Introduce them to presuppositional apologetics that they can feel more confident.
Lastly, call them to repent. God commands His child to not fear. The fact that this child of God is walking in fear is a sign that he is doubting God. Whether it be God’s love or power, this man is committing the sin of unbelief. Softly and sternly warn him against dishonoring God by his fearful countenance. Lay your hands on him, and pray for him. Pray that God in would grant him repentance of this sin. That God would strengthen him with boldness.
There are people who do not feel called
This is probably the most common reason evangelists and open-air preachers hear when someone tells them that they do not evangelize. I do not believe that God has called me to that ministry. It seems it is always based on upon a feeling of being un-called rather than a biblical reason.
It is true that not every Christian can do every ministry in the church. Not every Christian is called to join your ministry. However, all of God’s children are called to the ministry of evangelism.
(Here is a link to an article that proves this.)
The way to handle this person is to correct their doctrine. Show them that when Christ commands the apostle to go into all the world and preach the gospel it applies to every believer as well. Show them to the book of Acts, where we see laymen and apostle’s working side by side for the advancement of the gospel. Exhort them according to scripture and challenge their excuses.
There are Christians willing but do not know how
There are some people in your church that are dying to give the gospel. They are actively praying that God will give them opportunities. They are in tears as we speak and fully desire to be involved, yet they have no idea how to go about this desire. They are a combination of ambitious and afraid, unsure of the correct approach to go about sharing the gospel.
These people will eventually find you, but there’s a catch. You must be involved in a local church for these people to find you.
The most qualified answer for evangelism apathy is for those who are passionate and experienced in evangelism to be actively involved in a local church. Churches need evangelists. They need passionate people who are experienced in preaching the gospel. People who have acquired apologetic knowledge and experience challenging the world’s objections to the faith. Yet, evangelists must not only be outward focused, but inward focused–they must serve the local church. Even the traveling evangelists need to be fully involved with their local congregations. Otherwise, who will disciple the young man on his knees begging God for a chance to share the gospel?
God has placed you where you are to be a light for His gospel. That truth does not end the moment we walk past the sanctuary doors. I would argue that you must make every effort by the grace of God to shine the light of the gospel brighter in your own local church than anywhere else. The answer to your church’s apathy is the love of Christ poured out upon them. Ask that God would use you to be this vessel.
Grace and Peace.