I’m a professor of evangelism, but that doesn’t mean I find evangelism easy to do. For the past several months, I’ve been seeking prayerfully to recognize—and push beyond—any causes for this struggle. I know that fear is often a cause for not doing evangelism, but I don’t think fear is my primary issue. I’ve been privileged to train at the highest levels to evangelize, so that’s not an issue. No, my obstacles are sometimes far more subtle:
1. I still live in a Christian bubble. I’ve recognized this tendency for a long time, but here’s where I’ve blown it: I’ve given myself more credit for addressing it than I deserve. I still find my comfort zone among believers.
2. It’s easy to equate my pulpit ministry with doing evangelism. When I preach the gospel every Sunday, it doesn’t take long to convince myself that I do evangelism every weekend. In fact, I can evangelize a bunch of people at once this way …
3. I still take Jesus for granted. I wrote the book Nobodies for Jesus to address this issue, but I’ve since learned that fighting against this tendency is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment work. None of us, regardless of our ministry positions, defaults into godly wonder.
4. I’m so busy it’s hard to find time to be with people. I work more than one job—all that are ministry-related. What I must admit now is how I’ve allowed ministry busyness to get in the way of knowing people to be reached.
5. I can easily equate my missions work with doing evangelism. I love work on the mission field, and I always look forward to sharing the gospel around the world. I cannot, however, let that work give me permission to neglect my responsibility to go to my neighborhood.
6. I forget about the reality of hell. Very early in my pastoral ministry, God broke me over the death of a nonbelieving friend. That event took place a long time ago. Too long ago, apparently.
7. I’m naturally introverted. I’m not the one to begin most conversations. My natural tendency is to wait until someone else starts the conversation—and nonbelievers seldom do that!
8. I convince myself that multiplying laborers is better than my doing it all. “If I train hundreds of students per year,” I think, “that’s more effective than my doing it all.” In general, I think that statement’s true—but it’s distracting and deceptive if I use that excuse not to do evangelism personally.
Please continue to pray for me as God breaks me and remolds me for the sake of His name and the good of others.