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What is the importance of evangelism?

By Joseph D. Meador

religion, articles, christianity


Question: Please comment on the importance of evangelism in the church today.

Answer: Some years ago I heard an older Gospel preacher say that after he retired he would like to do evangelism. Remarkable! How sad that many "cannot see the forest for the trees." Have we become so professionalized that we no longer take the command to "go into all the world" personally? Indeed, I am afraid that this symptom of non­evangelism among all Christians (not just elders and preachers) is a problem in many places.

As one searches the riches of God's Word, the ideals of godliness and holiness along with the attitudes of servant­hood and obedience shine brightly as spiritual qualities for which all men should aspire. Christianity as a vibrant and active lifestyle really depends upon a well studied growth for its existence within the individual (2 Tim. 2:15). Those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" and who feed upon the "doctrine of Christ" are as steadfast as the cedars of Lebanon and flourish as the palm­tree (Psa. 92:12).

Evangelism Proper

Are we genuinely committed to evangelism as an integral part of living the Christian life? Those who are growing in the faith have no problem in recognizing the importance of teaching others about salvation.

Neither do full­grown Christians wait on an organized effort before they start teaching the lost. It just comes naturally. In fact, doing personal evangelism is the immediate by­product of true conversion to Christ. We are debtors to those who are lost because of our own salvation (Rom. 1:14). If we are thankful for salvation, we will be serious about telling others!

Evangelism Practiced

The pattern book which provides both motivation and methodology for evangelism is the New Testament. God's Word portrays for our twentieth century minds those first century men and women who were committed to personal evangelism ant in whose lives evangelism was exemplified.

Paul, a converted persecutor of the church, was not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, realizing that it alone provided to Jews and Gentiles the only source of reconciliation and eternal salvation.

Peter, the apostle who had denied his relationship to Christ three times, now by virtue of steady spiritual growth preached the first complete Gospel sermon. For the first time men and women were told why they should obey the Gospel and how they were to do it.

Lydia, a woman from Thyatira who was one of Paul's converts and who worked in Philippi selling purple dye, formed the nucleus of the congregation at Philippi, along with her friends. In fact, Paul and his companions made Lydia's house their headquarters before and after their stay in the Philippian jail.

Philip, after being forced to leave Jerusalem because of severe persecution, traveled some 36 miles to the city of Samaria where he preached Christ. Although prejudice existed in the minds of many Jews toward the Samaritans (and vice versa), Philip, constrained by the love of God, went anyway and met with a great reception.

In view of these examples of dedication to evangelism, each of us should realize that we, too, are debtors to our untaught friends and neighbors. It was to this end that Jesus came to "seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10) which today is the mission of every Christian worker (Mark 16:15­16).

Published July 1997