“I am a caterpillar. Well, that’s not really entirely true. My mother was a caterpiller, my father was a worm, but I’m okay with that now.” Khalil/Jonah: A Veggietales Movie
You probably have to have watched the movie to fully appreciate my quote from Khalil (above).
The reason I quote him is because of his statement of what he is and then correction to say that it is not really entirely true with explanation to follow.
When the subject of evangelism enters a conversation some brethren adamantly declare that they are not evangelistic, others reluctantly admit that they themselves are, but that they are not very good at it. Then there are still others, however few, who see themselves as soul winners and good at it. It is in each of these cases that Khalil’s words ring true, “Well, that’s not really entirely true…”.
I suggest to you that most, if not all, Christians practicing their faith, are more or less evangelistic, exercising one or more phases of the five phases of evangelism to varying degrees in the different relationships in our lives.
I think I can identify five phases of evangelism: 1. awareness of souls, 2. confession of Christ, 3. invitation to study, 4. instruction in God’s will, 5. discipling new converts.
Any given day our various relationships likely represent one or more of these phases. There may be those rare days where we do not think about the souls of the lost (awareness) or offer any encouragement to the saved (discipling), but I’m guessing these are few and far between. For the most part, we want the lost to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and the saved to be encouraged and strengthened to remain faithful – this is evangelism! If you think about the people around you needing the Lord, you are accomplishing the first phase of evangelism – awareness. You are being evangelistic, at least in spirit!
I realize that maybe technically, just thinking about people’s need for God may not fit the definition of being evangelistic (i.e. e•van•ge•lis•tic; adjective: 1. seeking to convert others to the Christian faith; missionary 2. Zealously advocating a particular cause; campaigning), but as a necessary first step toward “seeking to convert others,” I count it as part of the practical nature of evangelism.
Any given day in any given relationship, whether family, friend, acquaintance or a complete stranger we pass by in the street, when we are aware of other’s need for the Savior of their souls, we should take joy in our participating in evangelism; and like Khalil, be, “ok with that now.” However, we must not rest on our laurels in our joy, but instead we should use it as a stepping stone or springboard toward implementing the second and following phases of evangelism in our relationships.
Our evangelistic walk with the Lord is not required to be a sprint, though evangelistic sprints like campaigns or other special evangelistic efforts are good; and those brethren who show themselves advanced evangelistic athletes are inspiring. Our evangelistic walk can be baby steps and even beginning with a crawl at first and still please our Lord. Over the years of our faith that follow however, our walk should improve (1 Thessalonians 4:9,10; Philippians 1:9,10; Ephesians 4:15).
What evangelistic phases are you in in the various relationships in your life? Take joy in being in that phase, knowing that it pleases your Lord Jesus. Also ask God to help you make it to the next phase in each of those relationships. Remember, that every relationship may represent a different phase and that this may even vary from day to day and be ok with that. Simply do your best, with God’s help, to make the most of every interchange you have with others, to point them toward Jesus. Use the five phases of evangelism to map out a plan for improvement and gague your progress.
Keep thinking souls!