Lessons in Evangelism

Kirk Cameron was the guest speaker in my Apologetics & Evangelism seminary class yesterday.  He’s one of the leaders of The Way of the Master, a ministry that does evangelism and trains Christians to evangelize by using the law (specifically the Ten Commandments) to show people their need for the gospel.  There are theological questions I have about this method, but there’s no question that Kirk and his partners are preaching the pure gospel of Jesus Christ more than most people out there.  Here are a few highlights from class:

  1. Kirk began the class by asking for a volunteer who would come up and share the gospel with him for a couple minutes as though he (Kirk) were a classic atheist.  Out of sixty-plus seminary students who know the gospel backward and forward, zero volunteered (including me).  I don’t know if Kirk planned on this, but he used it as an object lesson to show us a simple point: We’re scared to share the gospel.  Think about that for a minute: We’re scared to share the gospel.

  2. Our main obstacle to sharing the gospel (whether it be door-to-door or in a relationship or to a family member or on a missions trip) is not lack of knowledge but fear.  And I actually think that fear is not even the main obstacle.  I think the main obstacle (at least for me) is even uglier and more frightening.  But fear is shameful enough. 

  3. Kirk asked this question: If Bill Gates were to offer you $1,000 for every time you shared the gospel tomorrow, how many people do you think you’d try to talk to?  He then made this point: We could deal with our fear of people for the love of money but we can’t seem to do it for the love of God.

  4. Nothing energizes your walk with God like sharing the wonderful news of salvation with others.  This isn’t the main motivation for sharing the gospel, and I would never talk about evangelism as a tool for personal spiritual growth, but it may be one reason why many people are spiritual stagnant.

  5. The main way to overcome fear in evangelism is compassion.  There are other ways of overcoming fear that Kirk mentioned, and there are some other essential ones that I would emphasize, too, but I think that compassion is fundamental.  Compassion implies self-forgetfulness, and self-forgetfulness eliminates selfish fear.

I don’t necessarily agree with every emphasis in the above points.  But I do think that all of them have a lot of truth to them.  And I’ve realized that when I start to criticize someone who’s active in pure-gospel evangelism because I don’t agree with his methodology, I need to shut up and ask myself if I have a deep enough love for God and for Christ and for the hell-bound lost that I’m doing anything about it.  Because the reality is that Kirk Cameron is sharing the gospel constantly with the lost because he understands God’s heartbeat and God’s purpose in the world.  So I may agree or disagree with some of his wisdom principles or his methodology or his emphasis, but he puts me to shame with his activity.

(Last night I got to hear a missionary from France talk about evangelism, too, and he had some insights that came from a different and very good angle.  I hope to have time to share those soon, as well.)


11 thoughts on “Lessons in Evangelism

  1. Gunner-
    Man, this was a great post…I had dumb chills as I was reading and you said that not one sem guy got up to share his faith (I wondered it I would). Then it kind of made me chuckle…I thought…”at least that’s one way to keep the ‘know-it-alls’ from monopolozing the class” :).
    Seriously, thanx for it. I have long thought that we should be doing role play scenarios as groups of friends, fellowship groups, etc… I think I’d be much sharper and much swifter to enter into deeper opportunities with unbelievers or even struggling believers etc.
    Good. Good stuff.
    Got Conviction?

  2. Yeah, I enjoyed the feedback, and was pleased people didn’t rip into him. As far as the followup issue goes, I think we can be too Calvinistic in our thinking. I know I’ve been guilty of thinking that way. It’s like we think, “Well, if they know how to swim, they won’t drown.” If they’re a Christian, they’ll make it.

    I wonder if Matthew 13:1-9, the parable of the sower, applies to this. You have the seeds that sprang up, but had no depth to the soil. I think that we can get positive reactions with evangelism, but if we don’t follow that up they just get scorched.

    I totally believe in the perseverance of the saints, but I don’t think that is something that we should necessarily overly rely on in evangelism. Its like a father throwing his son in the water and just watching him struggle and gasp for air, and just say, “Ahhh, well, if he can swim, he’ll be fine.” Sometimes we need to get in the water and help them learn to swim.

  3. Tim: I felt much the same way you did about last Friday’s class. And I was pleased with the positive feedback yesterday. I think some good questions were asked about follow-up, relationship evangelism, etc., but there was no bashing.

    Andrew: Jesse Johnson (the new evangelism professor) invited Kirk to come, as far as I know. I think they know each other through Grace Community. It was very good to get an outside perspective, especially from someone who has devoted his life to doing evangelism and teaching others how to do it.

  4. Gunner,
    Yeah, I left the class wanting to go street witnessing. I remember doing it back in days of the College and it was always an exhilirating experience and we have recently begun doing it with the kids in my ministry.

    I’m wondering how our next class is going to go. I’ve done quite a bit of thinking concerning this method and I’m hoping that it doesn’t turn into a bunch of guys ripping it a part because they’d be missing a big point of it. I know some of our brothers can be eager to be critical and tear something down, and I’m hoping that does rear its head in class on Wednesday.

    I actually really liked how it lets the person basically condemn themselves. Instead of telling someone they’re a sinner and then explaining why, you let them come to that conclusion. of course it would be a problem when their conscience is so seared against God that they are convinced that they aren’t a sinner. And of course you are going to run into the problem where people don’t even believe in a form of theism.

    but with Romans 1 in mind, i think this method can be used greatly.

  5. Gunner,

    Excellent Post. Convicting, challenging and inspiring to act upon what I have just read.

    Blessings,

    Geoff

  6. Gunner,

    Thank you for the post. I was edified and rebuked by my fear of the evnagelizing people too. Point 3 is a stinger. Praise God for his rebuke through you and for his grace to forgive me through the Christ and empower me through Christ to change and grow and kill the fear of man in me and put on compassion (among other things). Thanks again brother, I am blessed by your post. Grace be with you.

    PJ

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