Evangelism is the call of the Church — the Great Commission. It is the very essence of going out into the world to make disciples of every nation. It is the calling of every believer in Christ. Some are called into full-time evangelistic ministry while others are simply called to make evangelism part of their daily lives. But it is the call of all believers.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:19-20
Today, churches have replaced evangelism with practically everything but biblical evangelism. In fact, churches encourage members not to engage with people, rather, invite them to their church to “experience” something. Biblical evangelism has an essential set of foundational requirements that actually make it evangelism — and these are laid out in Romans 10.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.Romans 10:17
Go Into the World and Preach
In Romans 10:15, the Apostle Paul poses the rhetorical question, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” This builds on the foundation that as believers in Christ, we have been sent out into the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Instead, churches today send people out to make a sales pitch for their particular church. It’s not evangelism, it’s a growth strategy — and it’s unbiblical.
The modern version of sending missionaries today places the gospel as of secondary importance — the primary importance is to make people like you and your church. To get them to come. Churches have exchanged the biblical call to send for the unbiblical notion of come.
Also, importantly, churches are not primarily for the unregenerate and therefore should not be seen as an evangelistic mission field. This is, in fact, one of the largest problems in our churches today. Instead of the pews being filled with regenerate members who love the Word of God, churches are being turned into entertainment facilities designed to attract lost people in the hopes of converting them and keeping them.
The Church — the ekklesia — literally means the “called out” believers assembled together for Christ. The purpose of evangelism is to go out into the world of lost folks, preach the gospel to them, and those who believe then join the assembly.
Largely missing altogether from modern evangelism is the gospel itself. Preceding Paul’s admonition to go is a rhetorical explanation of how evangelism works.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?Romans 10:14
The gospel must be present in biblical evangelism — otherwise, it simply isn’t evangelism. One of the major misconceptions in evangelism is that we are only successful if we persuade people to convert and, worse, we are unsuccessful if we push people further away with our words.
One thing we must be clear about, Jesus said that His sheep will hear his voice and they will follow him. The burden is not on the evangelist to convert anyone — that burden is on God. It is a work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate those whom the Father has given to Christ (John 6:39-44). Further, if we’re preaching the truth of God’s Word — our need for a savior and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ — it will never return void. It always accomplishes its purpose (Isaiah 55:11).
For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”Romans 9:15
It is impossible to turn God’s sheep away by preaching the truth — however, it is possible to turn false converts away.
So while we’re sending missionaries overseas to build buildings and fences and church members into the streets to pitch a sale for our churches, what we must remember is that this does not fulfill the Great Commission — it is not evangelism. So stop calling it that.