Every believer should give careful thought to how evangelism extends to and shapes every area of their lives. And be intentional about acting on it.
Is your preaching and teaching ministry doing enough to prepare your church for the task of evangelism? In this series, Andy Paterson offers biblical encouragement that every Christian has a role to play, free from false guilt.
This is part 15 in the series.
Before moving to Edinburgh we lived in inner-city Bristol, our home was separated from the church building by a railway line. There were three points at which we could cross: one over a bridge or two through separate tunnels under that same track. There’s little difference in the time it takes to walk, so what determined the route? The weather? Desire for variety?
No – my wife and I decided we’d walk the same route every time for the sake of the gospel. We wanted to become familiar to traders and residents along that route, with the longing that we might get to know them and be able to speak of Jesus in our interactions. Our route was intentional.
Then there was a Facebook group specific to the postcode where we lived. I joined up, not only so I might get to hear of what’s going on in our locality, but so I could post comments pointing to special services at our church. And then one day I noticed an advert posted on the Facebook group about a book club that met above the main ‘hub’ pub. Realising I could make most of the evenings when it met, I went along, read the books, and joined in the discussion, inevitably having my own ‘Christian world-view opinions'.
Intentionality. Because if there’s one criticism that could be levelled against the ideas contained in this series it’s this: “you’re giving Christians an excuse to do nothing evangelistically.” “You’re justifying passivity.” “It’s a cowards’ charter.”
Whole of life evangelism
But that is to misunderstand what we’re suggesting. The biblical expectation is that we live the whole of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. And that means that not only will we have a deep understanding of and appreciation for the saving work of Christ, but we’ll also be profoundly affected by the reality of God’s wrath against sin and the eternal fate of those who die without coming to a saving faith in Christ’s finished work.
So, we’ll always be on the lookout for ways to connect with friends and family, colleagues and neighbours. How could it be otherwise?
You see, gospel intentionality should extend to every area of life.
In the workplace, thought will be given to how I spend my coffee breaks and lunch hours. Where’s the best place to meet with my colleagues and get to know them better? Maybe it will be the pub or the work canteen, maybe it means bringing a packed lunch to eat with that person you’re concerned for; maybe it means sharing a lift in a car or travelling by public transport.
This constant motivation is what enables me to best connect for gospel purposes. Sometimes it might be good to open your Bible and read it at work, on other occasions that might not be the wisest choice. Gospel intentionality must shape our actions.
Perhaps you don’t go out to paid work and are based in the home. How can you use that time best to show and share Christ? There might be neighbours who would value a visit or would appreciate some shopping; there might be jobs you can do for others where they live; a community group might meet nearby to talk over local issues; refugees might have relocated near you and require language help and advocacy. The possibilities are endless.
Such intentionality doesn’t just happen. It requires careful thought and should result in specific actions.
All too often our diaries shape and control us. We feel out of control or just trapped in the ‘same old, same old’. Whereas we’re the ones who should be shaping our agendas with deliberate and careful gospel intentionality, rather than letting our lives drift along without a moment’s thought for how they might be used for King Jesus.
Next time: Responding wisely.