Why has the church over the past decades in the west talked so much about evangelism but done so very little of it? Massive evangelism conferences have been held. Mountains of curricula have been produced. Yet, by and large, most churches I know anything about are not really doing evangelism at all, or very well. Why?
Mack Stiles’ little book Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus aims to address this very dilemma. His answer is both profound and simple all at once.
Stiles begins by giving some anecdotes that may seem like evangelism, but they turn out to be fools gold. Thus, the title of Chapter One, “Of Altar Calls and Laser Lights.” But if so much that has passed as evangelism really isn’t, then what is?
“Evangelism is teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade”
This simple definition drives the rest of the book. Stiles is more about the church working to build and becoming a culture where evangelism happens (preferably routinely as a way of life), rather than the church relegating evangelism to conferences, curricula, and professionals.
OK? But how?
Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go buy the book and read it! I can tell you that this is the most biblical and practical book I have ever read on the subject of evangelism. The primary ways that we can “become intentional evangelists living in intentional cultures of evangelism,” says Stiles, are these:
1. Prepare our hearts, minds and feet.
2. Understand a gospel-shaped way of life.
3. Slay our assumptions.
4. See evangelism as a discipline.
6. When possible, give leadership in evangelism.
Is your appetite whetted? I hope so. Begin to prayerfully seek God for how you can help us grow into an intentionally evangelistic culture.
For God’s Glory in the Gospel of Christ!