In my last post in this series, I dealt more with a personal evangelism method (Questioning Evangelism) which is where most of us find ourselves when we seek to declare the gospel at work, in our neighborhood or apartment. It’s also how we’ve come to view and teach evangelism. It has become a personal responsibility that you do by yourself so you better know all the answers and the best methods to explain the gospel to anyone you see. This is a half-truth that often overwhelms us because the burden rests solely on us for it to be carried out. It’s true that we must be ready to give an account for why we believe what we believe, but evangelism was never seen as solely an individual activity.
I’m talking about the idea of community evangelism, which is joining with other believers in Jesus Christ to express the gospel through word and deed to similar individuals, a neighborhood, or a group of people. Instead of doing it on your own, partner with other believers to accomplish the same task together.
This is something I’ve primarily learned by observing it carried out by others, but also through observing truth in the Book of Acts in the Bible. In Acts you never see anyone sent out to evangelize or establish a church or to be on mission all by themselves, it’s as if it didn’t make sense to them. The first missionary journey (Acts 13) sets apart Paul and Barnabas to go together, and even with they split in Acts 15, they find others to go with them as they separate and never go alone.
Christ sends out His disciples in pairs in Luke 10 and then sends them as a group when He ascends into heaven. It appears more biblical to seek to do this as a community rather than as individuals.
Maybe for us the independent American lifestyle has bled into our evangelism methods and theology to the point we refuse to share our burden and responsibility with those we love that also happen to be closest to us.
Two examples of community evangelism in our college ministry:
Kasey and Clay: Two of our college guy leaders began interacting with and caring for Korean international students on UT’s campus. Each of them would interact with them separately, but also together at times and each time would seek to engage them with the truth of the gospel. As a result, they’ve seen a Korean atheist become a believer in Christ and then join them in reaching his friends.
Madison and Megan: Freshman girls in our college ministry that decided to pray like crazy and share their faith as much as possible. Together they have seen a number of people come to faith in Christ, baptized girls in their dorm’s pool and seen those girls join with them in sharing their faith and baptizing others. Here’s the video.
How does this play out in our lives?
I have seen this begin to play itself out in my marriage most of all. Amber and I are a ministry team that lives in close community as part of our marriage. We spend our weekdays separate, but with a common focus of seeing the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed through our words and our lives to the people we see on a regular basis. When together, we encourage one another, keep each other accountable to staying committed to sharing our faith, we learn from one another and we pray for each other. Lately, we’ve also worked together in spending time with the people each of us has connected with individually. In those moments we get to show them Christ by our lives in community and then collectively declare the gospel. We’ve seen more opportunities to share our faith this way than ever before.
Community evangelism creates more opportunities for the gospel to be spread, provides a close training and support network for learning, encouragement, accountability, and prayer. There are small groups in churches everywhere, but many of them meet to serve just each other, what if their focus for gathering was centered on engaging communities with the gospel they encourage each other with? I think they’ll see and experience greater joy in Christ and see salvation in Christ more than ever before.