A Team Effort
W hat feelings come when you think about evangelism? Fear? Anxiety? Intimidation? When someone mentions sharing your faith, do you feel unbearable pressure, as though your actions will make the difference in a person’s eternal destiny? If this is how you feel, you’re in good company.
Especially in today’s “tolerant” atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate talking about anything that might offend someone, it truly is intimidating when you think about the former paradigm of evangelism. So if you feel burdened when the opportunity to share your faith comes, look to Paul. His perspective
1st Corinthians 3:6 says: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”
was completely different. He didn’t find evangelism burdensome, because he didn’t see the outcome as his responsibility. Sharing the joy of knowing Jesus was what he loved more than anything to do. Here’s why.
Paul recognized that sharing the faith is a team effort. He never felt like the Lone Ranger, solely responsible for reaching everyone with the Gospel. He didn’t work alone but partnered with others who knew and loved Jesus as well.
He knew that God was responsible for saving people, not him. He freely and joyfully told others about his Savior as he partnered with God as He drew people to Himself.
“Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]? Romans 2:4 (AMP).”
When my husband and I were missionaries in Russia, we would see churches send over short-term missionaries with an agenda. They thought they had to make a set number of conversions in order to be “successful.” It filled us with sadness because after “saving” a bunch of orphans at summer camp, they would go home full of themselves and promptly forget the children with whom they had “shared their faith.” This pressure to evangelize was rooted in pride, as evidenced by their emphasis on numbers. (It actually had the completely opposite effect, as, after a while, the kids who had been “saved” at numerous camps and then spiritually abandoned didn’t see the benefit of saying the “magic words” that would change their lives.)
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: John 16:7-8 (MP)”
Though some Christians do the work of an evangelist out of pride, revelling more in the fact that they led someone to Christ than the fact that the person is now saved, others have different motivations. Some feel pressure to live up to an ideal that they have created in their minds based upon conference speakers or authors who speak about evangelism. Still, the focus is on themselves. They do not see themselves as part of a team that includes the Holy Spirit, to whom all credit is due.
The kind of evangelism that draws people to God is the kind that develops deep and longstanding relationships. That’s exactly how God draws people to Himself, and when we team up with God, people desire more of that kind of relationship.
What are your feelings about sharing your faith? Pray for God to give you the freedom to work as a team member with the Holy Spirit and with others.