by Bill Denton
"Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word" (Acts 8:4)
"Though all of us should be able to articulate the gospel message, we have way over-complicated evangelism."
A few years ago I got a phone call from a fellow who was well-known for conducting personal evangelism training seminars. The conversation started with his asking me, "In the last year, how many people have you personally converted to Christ?" Sadly, the number I was able to quote him was only a handful or so. Undaunted, he pressed on with his sales pitch: "How would you like to be able to double, even triple that number next year?" Of course, his answer as to how to do that was for me to attend his seminar, learn his personal evangelism method, and use his published materials to reach the lost in our community.
I do not fault his method, for he surely had some good ideas. There wasn't anything wrong with his materials either, though I thought they were a little expensive. I couldn't fault him for training others to be more evangelistic, for we both agreed that those of us who are saved need to do more to reach those who are not. Still, I had the uncomfortable feeling during that conversation that both he and I were missing something much more important.
For some time after I got off the phone with that man, I reflected on the conversation and tried to figure out my problem. It finally dawned on me what it was. I already knew the gospel of Jesus! I knew how to relate it to others. I had been doing that for years. I had a history of at least some success at reaching the lost. I did not really need a new method, I needed a new energy and enthusiasm. What I really needed to do to reach two or three times the number of people I had helped convert to Christ the previous year was to get up and get going. Even if I had attended the seminar, bought his material, and became adept at his method of evangelism, unless I upped the number of people I was teaching, there simply wouldn't be any increase.
Why aren't we doing more evangelism today? It isn't because we don't know the gospel. For most of us it's not because we need some slick method or presentation. If you own a Bible, you don't really even need any fancy, colorful printed material to give away to folks. What we really need is for those who are saved to get busy sharing the good news of Jesus with those who aren't saved. In short, we need more evangelistic activity and less complication of the process.
Don't misunderstand. If you want to attend a seminar, buy some materials, or get some training, then do it. Sometimes, it can help you learn how to communicate better. But, when it's all over, in order to reach any lost person, you're going to have to get up, go out, meet people, break down the barriers, and share the message of Jesus. You could probably start that today.