At a recent prayer meeting we were praying about our local church’s activities. These included some new types of evangelistic endeavours for our fellowship. As I listened to the prayers I felt the need to pray into this myself, especially as I am actively involved in the initiatives. When my opportunity came along I asked the Lord to open doors, to draw people to Him, to the events and used many of the phrases that we probably hear uttered at these types of meetings. The last part of my petition to the Lord was asking Him to help the people in our fellowship live evangelistic lifestyles.
On my drive home I asked myself, what exactly is an evangelistic lifestyle”? Having considered this and through studying scripture, I will share the answer that I arrived at. We will cover this subject in greater depth later, as there is much more to learn about it. The term ‘evangelistic lifestyle’ is used frequently these days and it is important to have a clear understanding of what it actually means.
A Christian should:-
Be alert: Firstly, a lifestyle evangelist is always ready and prepared to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When an opportunity comes along, they will always take it, without hesitation. Paul in Athens is a very good example, when he came across the statue of the unknown God:
“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
Acts 17: 22-23
He was presented with an opportunity to share the good news and simply took it. When he had finished speaking, scripture records that some people sneered, others wanted to hear him speak again but straightaway many believed and responded to the message! It remains true today - people still react and respond in the same way whenever they hear the Good News.
I know some people who cannot resist sharing their faith, they never let an opportunity pass them by and literally every person they speak to gets to hear the Gospel. I remember a few years ago being in a Chinese takeaway in Glasgow with my cousin, who is one of those people that speaks about God any time he can. We went up to the counter; the young lady took her pad and held her pen at the ready expecting an order. She waited a few seconds and then looked up to see my cousin’s beaming face. He introduced me saying, “Hello young lady, this is my cousin who is also my brother…….in Christ” as he pointed with his right hand towards heaven. The assistant, who was Chinese and spoke very broken English, looked horrified. I have to admit that at the time even I felt a little embarrassed for her and myself to be honest.
It may appear an extreme example, but amazingly God often moves through people in this way and opens doors for them to present the Gospel. We often don’t know what happens to the seed when we sow it. It can stay there until one day it germinates and starts to speak to a person’s heart. I have seen it happen many times before. Though it isn’t the way I usually operate, we must all be ready to take the initiative when an opportunity comes along.
Key Point: Be ready to take the initiative when an opportunity comes along
Initially, most opportunities will arise with people that you know, friends, neighbours, family or work colleagues. From my experience, these are very good people to start with. We must be ready and prayed up. When we step out for God in faith and witness, the Holy Spirit is right there with us. What a comfort that is!
Our own contacts are important as we make the decision reach out. Ask the Lord to create opportunities, and He will do it. When they come along, we need to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have.
Look at the figures below to see how most people have ended up coming to church. The figures are much the same worldwide and it was certainly true in my case - I initially came to church through someone I knew.
· A friend or relative 78%
· Pastor 6%
· Sunday school 5%
· Church service or program 3%
· Walk-in off the street 3%
· Special need 2%
· Personal visitation 2%
· Evangelistic crusade or TV show 1/2%
Baptist church figures USA 1998
We shouldn’t become a pest so that people avoid us; we just need to be prepared to share the truth of the Gospel. When we pray and expect opportunities, they will come along.
That means being ready and prepared in season and out of season. In other words ….. anytime.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:1