4. Review What God Has Done in Your Life
Dr. James Martin, pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, told me, “Because I know what I was and what Christ has done for me, I want others to know God’s love and to experience the freedom and peace I have in Christ even in the midst of a troubled world.”
Similarly, Christian leader and author Chuck Colson said to me in a letter:
What happened in Tom Phillips’s driveway years ago when I surrendered my life to Christ remains as vivid in my memory and consciousness today as it was at the time. I have never forgotten – and I don’t want to forget – what happened that night. I realized for the first time in my life that I was a sinner, desperately in need of salvation and forgiveness. And that night it became clear to me that God was offering that to me – that Jesus Christ the Son of God actually went to the cross, died in my place, and took my sins upon himself, enabling me to be free.
Now, if someone does that for you, how do you respond? G. K. Chesterton said that gratitude is the mother of all virtues. One should be overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has done for us, and this gratitude then inspires us to do our duty, to do whatever God calls us to do. And the simple fact is that Jesus calls us to share that good news.
Over and over, I’ve seen that when we review God’s merciful activity in our own lives, our passion grows for spreading his mercy to others. Reflect on the story of how God reached you, and you’ll find yourself becoming more motivated to tell others of his love and salvation.
5. Spend Time with Other Contagious Christians
One of the most important ways I keep my evangelistic fervor is by spending time with others who live out this value in their own lives. This is especially true of the time I spend with my close friend and ministry partner, Lee Strobel. He and I have done ministry together for many years. One of our favorite things is going out for lunch somewhere with no formal agenda and just letting our imaginations and conversations run free with ideas of things we could try in order to reach people for Christ. As Hebrews 10:24 puts it, we “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” – and nowhere is this more important than evangelism!
And what’s exciting is that this kind of influence usually goes both ways. Here’s an e-mail I got from another church leader I had recently spent time with and was encouraged by. It illustrates the effect Christians can have on one another when we spend time together dreaming about reaching folks for Christ:
Thanks again, Mark, for the burst of encouragement you have provided me – especially personally. I simply cannot express the wonderful feeling of being with brothers of like mind with regard to lost people. This is especially so in light of the spiritual desert I’ve felt I have been traveling alone in for so long. It’s nice to have the wind at your back once in a while!
Who could you get a “burst of encouragement” from? It might be someone in your church, a pastor from another church in your area, or someone from the other side of the country – but whoever it is, find ways to stay in touch with them. Invest in the relationship. Pray together, challenge one another, and watch God work!
Let me add that while you certainly can’t have lunch with Dwight L. Moody, you can “spend time” with him by reading books such as A Passion for Souls by Lyle Dorsett and experience a similar effect. I doubt that it’s possible to read about the life of Moody and not have your own passion for souls charged up. The same is true when you read about Salvation Army founders William and Catherine Booth, John Wesley, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, and many others.
Most of us will never have personal access to someone like Billy Graham, but we can listen to his messages and read his autobiography, Just As I Am. When we do, some of his contagious influence rubs off on us. Rick Warren can have a similar effect through The Purpose Driven Church, as can Bill Bright, through reading the powerful biography of his life, Amazing Faith, and his world-impacting ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ.
Even at a distance, people such as Chuck Colson, Luis Palau, Ravi Zacharias, Greg Laurie, and Bill Hybels can impact our attitudes and help us become more driven to reach the seekers who live all around us.
So get around the right people—and under the influence of people you can’t get around—and let their evangelistic hearts affect yours. It will help you to live out this vital value in powerful ways.