Okay, now that I have your attention and, before I get beaten to death by an angry crowd of tract-wielding “soulwinners,” let me explain. Although the concept of evangelism is all over the New Testament, the actual word evangelism is never used once, that’s right, not once. The word evangelize is used 52 times and the word “evangelist” is used a few times as well, but the word evangelism is as absent as a loudmouth in a boot camp for mimes.
Evangelize Is in the Bible: “Evangelism” Isn’t
Just like with the word “Trinity” (which is never used once in the Bible either) the concept is all over the pages of the New Testament. You see it in action through the life of Jesus in each of the Gospels, watch it unfold as an unstoppable force of societal transformation in the book of Acts and witness its impact in the lives of the early believers in the Epistles. For a word that is nowhere to be found, its presence is felt everywhere.
But this good word has fallen on hard times. Although evangelism literally means “the act of delivering good news” this very positive word is often viewed negatively. From images of bullhorns and “Repent!” signs to stereotypes of money-grubbing, bling-wearing TV evangelists, the word evangelism has gotten a bad rap by those who have wrapped it in angry judgment or gawdy jewelry.
And that’s a shame because to evangelize is to bring the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection to the bad news bearers of their own sin and God’s coming judgment. And those of us who deliver that good news must do it with humility, knowing that we, too, were “objects of wrath” until somebody delivered that good news to us.