PE Conversations: Personal Evangelism
In culture today, there’s an increasing tension between the sacred and the secular. Across the country there are conversations dissecting what are considered personal rights for Christians and what constitutes breaking the law. PE News asked a panel of evangelical leaders to share their thoughts on the topic of personal evangelism. Those participating in the roundtable are Assemblies of God Assistant General Superintendent Alton Garrison, Assemblies of God World Missions Communications Director Randy Hurst, and best-selling author Rice Broocks, author of the new book Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question. They answered questions posed by AG Communication and Content Strategist Nii Abrahams.
PE NEWS: How does personal evangelism fit into the blueprint of God’s redemptive plan for the world?
RANDY HURST: Most people come to Christ because individual believers are obedient to our Lord’s commands to share the gospel with those who don’t know Christ. He could have chosen angels to proclaim the gospel, but in His grace and wisdom, He determined that those of us who have experienced salvation should have the privilege and responsibility of sharing the message with others.
RICE BROOCKS: If you are a believer today, it’s because someone communicated the gospel to you. It was the truth of His story that compelled a handful of believers 2,000 years ago to overcome enormous opposition from a hostile culture and boldly declare this message. Because they believed, they spoke up. If we truly believe, we will speak to others as well.
ALTON GARRISON: The Great Commission is not exclusive to any one group. All believers are instructed to make disciples who make disciples. Each person must assume responsibility for God’s command.
PE NEWS: What does evangelism look like in the workplace and everyday life?
BROOCKS: Evangelism today starts with listening to others and looking for ways to help them. We are living in dangerous and stressful times. As believers we have an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate the peace of God that passes all understanding. As we pray and keep God’s Word in our heart, we become an advertisement for the kingdom of God in the workplace.
GARRISON: In today’s culture, evangelism in the workplace and everyday life looks like relational evangelism. Relationship qualifies an individual to build a bridge of trust and share their faith. An intentional conversation with a redemptive purpose is an approach many use; however, the timing and process need to be individually discerned. Listening to the personal story of another and then sharing our own conversion are great starting points.
HURST: In everyday contexts, whenever we have the opportunity we should respond to nonbelievers as both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter share (in Colossians 4:5-6 and 1 Peter 3:15). The same can be done in the workplace, but with more caution. We can’t be too aggressive or it can jeopardize our witness and even our jobs. However, our conversations can incite people to ask us questions about our faith, which we are free to answer.
PE NEWS: We’ve seen personal evangelism recently on the forefront of pop culture, specifically with the upcoming release of God’s Not Dead 2 (GND2). What can a movie like that do to activate and re-energize the local church to evangelism?
GARRISON: When pre-Christians start to become interested in spiritual matters and are introduced to the gospel message through a film or other media avenues, it becomes easier for Christians to begin redemptive conversations. This usually inspires a lot of questions from people who see films like God’s Not Dead 2.
BROOCKS: In God’s Not Dead 2, a high school teacher faces a lawsuit for quoting Jesus Christ in her classroom. Her defense? Jesus Christ was a real person and the Gospels record His actual words, therefore He should be quoted like any other person. This movie will be a catalyst to help people engage others in a gospel conversation. Many who would not be open to an invitation to attend church will be open to go to a movie.
HURST: The release of the film God’s Not Dead 2 provides opportunities to share our faith that otherwise would not have arisen. In 2004, when The Passion of the Christ was released, the AG Evangelism Commission distributed more than 120,000 booklets on how to talk about Jesus with nonbelievers who saw the film. Churches reported that many thousands came to Christ through this method. Conversations about the film opened doors of opportunity to talk about Jesus
PE NEWS: What do you say to those who feel like evangelism is just for their pastor or church?
GARRISON: When we ask churchgoers what the pastor’s priority is from the pulpit, evangelism is the highest. However, for themselves, evangelism is always ranked the lowest. They agree that evangelism should be a high priority, yet feel ill-equipped to share their own faith. From our pulpits, it must be made clear that the Great Commission is universal and not limited to “super saints” or spiritual leaders.
HURST: Because the Holy Spirit is the One who convinces of sin and activates faith in the heart to respond to the gospel, every believer can share Christ effectively. Evangelism is not an issue of human persuasion, but of connecting people with Jesus. Even those who are not comfortable in conversations or think they’re not persuasive can share Jesus simply in several ways.
For instance, share your personal testimony and explain the difference in your life before you knew Christ and after receiving Him. When people have needs, offer to pray with them. Praying with a nonbeliever is a witness. Invite someone to church. Studies have shown that most nonbelievers would attend church if someone would personally invite them to come.
BROOCKS: The number one reason people aren’t involved in sharing the gospel with others is they don’t feel prepared to handle the objections they might face from unbelievers. It is vital that pastors and leaders recognize this and help train them to be prepared. The facts about the historical Jesus presented in GND2 will make it easy to have a dialogue that centers on the validity of the Christian faith.