When we hear the word “evangelism” it’s easy to think about sharing Christ as a thing to “do” rather than a way of life. It’s one of those tasks to check off on our list. We usually associate it with talking to people about how they can know Christ or preaching the gospel.
Often times, witnessing becomes an “event” and this mindset sticks with us for years. I remember making events out of passing out tracts, or going into city streets or shopping malls to pray for people, or even putting together special services to invite friends to church. I call this the “foray approach,” in which we go out with a specific goal of winning people to Christ. Sometimes I feel this approach causes us to feel that we’re off the hook once the event is over. I often wonder about the “going out” part. Yes, we “go out” to another country because we feel that people need Jesus and we sense God calling us there. Once we’re there, we “go out” into the streets and markets and public places to meet people, or we plan an evangelistic event or outreach. But is that all there is?
I think oftentimes what we miss is that evangelism can happen all the time, with your neighbors, as you go about your daily tasks. Our lives can speak the good news without us ever saying a word. If we feel we have to constantly go out from our daily lives so that we can share about Jesus, then it’s good to ask ourselves how our lives are a witness to Jesus during those times when we’re NOT going out. Are we ever off-duty when it comes to evangelism? I don’t think so.
But what does that mean? That we have to constantly look for an opportunity to speak to people about Jesus? Maybe, but maybe it also means something else. We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. So why don’t we use more actions in our evangelism and fewer words? St. Francis of Assisi said, “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” Obviously, we cannot always be speaking. I believe this means we are to live the gospel, not only speak it. We should not put a barrier around ourselves and then only when we do an evangelism event or “foray” do we evangelize, and when we’re done we go back into our safe place.
Jesus came and lived among those he served. He became like us in order to communicate with us. He didn’t drop down from heaven once in a while and preach a sermon. He demonstrated the good news through his everyday life. His actions spoke, as well as his words. When Jesus is truly in us, our actions will be as a witness to who he is. Helping your neighbor carry in the groceries, giving someone a ride, giving a gentle answer to someone who is upset, asking questions rather than reacting. All this is part of action evangelism that is not dependent on planned events. We sow seeds into peoples lives, realizing that people are at different stages. Our job is to be faithful to the stage they are at, and bring them one step closer. Sometimes that means using words, many times it does not.
What are some ways you’ve shared Christ with others with your actions?