The Ten Commandments of Evangelism
I am a youth pastor. One of the many things that I want to encourage my students to do is to begin evangelizing their friends. There are several ways to go about this, and I am not too picky about the particular methodology that the students use to reach other people. In fact, since each person is different, we should never assume that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to evangelism. With that being said, there are several traits that should be common to all evangelistic efforts. These things I have dubbed the "Ten Commandments of Evangelism." They are as follows:
1. Thou Shalt Love Those to Whom You Witness
Let's face it, Jesus calls us to love people. I am not talking about a warm, fuzzy feeling about the individuals to whom you witness. Rather, I am talking about having a genuine concern for the individual's best interest. That is, you want what is best for that person. This is a biblical view of love, as contrasted with the modern world's view that love is somehow simply a fuzzy feeling or an affirmation of the person's sin, despite what God says. Love is more than that. Love means that you genuinely care about the person's well-being, and it involves action. Love does not ignore the physical needs of the individual. Love does not fail to see a person who is made in the image of God. Love cares for the sinner, but does not affirm them in their sin. For a fuller view of what love is, read 1 Corinthians 13. For now, suffice to say that loving those to whom we witness is the first, but one of the most difficult, of these Ten Commandments.
2. Thou Shalt Not Compromise Truth
Truth matters. I am not talking about "your truth." I am not talking about "my truth." I am talking about THE truth. The truth of the Gospel should not be compromised whenever we witness to others. Here is a simple yet sobering fact: If we are not faithful to the truth of the Gospel, then we are not truly evangelizing. Rather, we are spreading our own views rather than God's truth. As we evangelize, we must constantly remember that we are called to be faithful to the truth of the Gospel. To do otherwise is to abandon it.
3. Thou Shalt Keep Jesus At The Center
This goes along with the previous commandment. The Person and Work of Jesus is at the center of the Gospel. This is his rightful place. Because of this, it is important that we keep Jesus at the center of everything that we do. We, as individuals, must imitate Jesus in the way that we do evangelism. We, as Gospel-spreaders, must keep the focus on Jesus. This means that we exclude good works or anything that might indicate that we can somehow accomplish what only Jesus could. Jesus should be our focus in everything that we do.
4. Thou Shalt Be Prepared To Share Your Faith
1 Peter 3:15 states that we are to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." While there is quite a bit to unpack here, one of the points that I want to highlight about this verse is that we should always be prepared. We never know when an opportunity will arise to share our faith. Because of this, we should always be prepared. We will not always have time to go and prepare a statement or a sermon before we have these conversations. We should always be prepared. I have been asked by family members on two separate occasions to go and visit lost family members and tell them about Jesus. Once was on an individual's last day alive. You never know how much time you are going to have to share the Gospel with a person. Always be prepared.
5. Thou Shalt Not Fail To Listen
Here is something that I want us to understand: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to evangelism. Each person is different and comes from a different background. I think it is important for us to remember this when we do evangelism. In order to be effective, we have to listen to the other person in order to understand where he or she is coming from. This does not mean that we have to endorse a person's lifestyle, but it does mean that we should listen before we speak. As the old saying goes, there is a reason God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth. In addition, listening before we speak shows the other person that we genuinely care about them. Few things will cause someone to turn away from the message you are bringing faster than a failure to listen.
6. Thou Shalt Be Kind
We should always remember that it is more important for us to win the person than to win the argument. There have been experiences in my own life when I have come across a person who was so misinformed about what Christianity teaches and the evidence for the truth of the Christian faith. I could have beaten them over the head with facts, but it is more important to win the person than to win the argument. I want you to hear me out: If you have to choose between loving another person and winning the argument with the other person, always choose to love the other person. This does not mean that you have to affirm everything about them. It does mean that you should remember that everyone to whom you witness is a person made in the image of God, and who should be treated kindly on this basis.
7. Thou Shalt Build Relationships With The Lost