Gospel Tracts and the Heart: Two Steps to Creating a Culture of Evangelism in your Church
Theologically, you know the right answer. But practically, maybe you’re not so sure. For many Christians, evangelism is simply not a priority.
So what’s the answer? Do we resign ourselves to leading churches where people are silent about their faith? Do we allow our churches to become stagnant? Do we create new programs or activities to keep us distracted from the problem?
Of course not. That’s why you’re here, right? You want your church to actively live out the Great Commission. You want them to be fully engaged in the task of reaching those who do not know Christ. You want a culture of evangelism to take over your church.
But where do you start? How do you develop gospel fluency in your members? How do you equip your church to start gospel conversations with non-believers? How do you develop a culture of evangelism that will reach beyond special outreach days into the everyday lives of your church family?
In its simplest form, it really comes down to two steps.
First, you need to give your church the right tools.
Have you ever watched a kid at his first t-ball game?
The scene is a familiar one. The coach walks the little Johnny out to home plate and hands him the bat. The ball is placed carefully on the tee. Then, Johnny takes a his first wobbly swing at the ball. If he’s like most kids, he probably misses the ball completely. But this is t-ball. Nobody strikes out. So he keeps swinging until he makes contact. Everyone claps as the kid makes his obligatory run to first base. Then, the next kid steps up for his turn.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with t-ball. It’s a wonderful way to introduce your kids to the game of baseball. Later on, they’re going to have to learn to hit real pitches. They’ll need to learn a lot more about the game. But for now, you just want to get them used to the basics.
This is what gospel tracts can be for your church family. Gospel tracts are a starting point. They help people take their first swings at sharing their faith.
There’s obviously more to evangelism than just handing out gospel tracts. But for people who are not used to sharing their faith, don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be. Give them a resource that will help get that conversation started easily.
As they build confidence in understanding and explaining the gospel, they’ll discover new ways to share Christ. They’ll spot new opportunities to talk about Jesus. They’ll engage even more people with the gospel.
But to get there, they need to start with that first swing. So start by giving them the right tools. Put some quality gospel tracts in their hands to help them start conversations with the people they meet.
That’s step one. Now, you’re ready for step two. You need to give your church the right motivation.
It’s not enough to tell your church what to do. They need motivation, not just information.
They need help getting past the fear and apprehension that keeps them from doing what they already know they should be doing.
Going back to our t-ball illustration, they need regular pep talks. Just like a coach, your role will involve motivating and encouraging the people you are leading. They will need regular reminders of God’s call for them to live their lives with His mission in view.
So what does that look like?
Most of the time, it simply involves overcoming objections. Because we are all really good at making excuses.
Your task as a motivator will involve anticipating and answering those objections. So let’s look at some of the most common excuses that people make about evangelism.
Here’s the short answer to this excuse: “Yes, you are.” And here’s why. You have the Holy Spirit.
Just read through the book of Acts. Look at what happens when the Holy Spirit shows up. When people are filled with the Spirit, they are always proclaiming the gospel to others.
There are only two convictions that you need to be an effective witness:
-The Holy Spirit is working around me.
-The Holy Spirit is working in and through me.
If you let those two truths sink deeply into the soil of your heart, you will experience so much freedom in the task of evangelism. Just think. God is constantly at work around you preparing people to hear and receive the gospel. Your job is just to ask questions and to figure out where He’s working. You are being invited to join God in the work that He is doing in the hearts of non-believers. That’s amazing!
If you believe those two truths, you will be an effective witness, regardless of your personality, experience, or ability.
So when someone says they are not “qualified” for evangelism, you can be confident that they are confused about their job description. They’re confusing their job with the Holy Spirit’s job.
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of sin. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to draw people to Christ. Our job is just to be faithful.
If you have ever shared your faith with someone else, you can relate to this excuse.
Someone once described evangelism as “two nervous people talking to each other.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it?
But here’s what we have to understand. A message this important is worth a little discomfort. In fact, it’s worth more than a little discomfort. It’s worth giving our very lives.
Just imagine giving this excuse to Paul, Stephen, or Peter?
Paul: “Wait. Why aren’t you sharing your faith with others?”
Me: “Well, it makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Paul: “Are you serious? I was beaten with rods… three times.”
Stephen: “I was stoned to death.”
Peter: “I was beheaded.”
Of course, evangelism is difficult. It’s difficult, because people are difficult. They don’t follow the script that we rehearse for sharing our faith. They don’t ask easy questions. They get hurt and depressed, and sometimes, angry.
Don’t be surprised by these things. Let’s just get rid of the idea that evangelism is supposed to make us feel comfortable. It’s not.
It’s probably going to be messy, difficult, and awkward.
But listen. It’s still worth it.
Many people hear about the call to share Christ, and they say, “I’m just too busy. I have work and family responsibilities. I have responsibilities with my church. I have errands to run and things to do. I just don’t have time. I’m too busy.”
The usual reply to this excuse is to say: “You have time for what you want to do.”
And that’s true. But there’s an even bigger problem with this excuse.
Maybe you are busy. But if you look closely, you’ll probably find that you’re busy with people.
The people that fill up your schedule are the very same people that God has called you to reach.
When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, He wasn’t calling us to put aside all of the normal activities of life.
The first word of the Great Commission is “Go”. But it’s not a one-time action. In the Greek, it’s continuous action. It would be like saying, “As you go…”
In other words, it’s not an event. It’s a lifestyle.
As you go, preach the gospel to all kinds of people.
As you go, teach people about who Christ is and what He said.
As you go, live intentionally on the mission that you have been given.
Evangelism is not one aspect of our existence as disciples. It should be woven into every aspect of our lives. We exist to be witnesses.
Tim Chester, author of “Everyday Church", puts it this way: “Evangelism is doing normal life with gospel intentionality.”
You say, “I’m too busy. I have to take my kids to baseball practice.”
Excellent. Aren’t there other parents there?
You say, “I’m too busy. I have work to do around the house. Mow the lawn.”
Awesome. Do your neighbors ever come out of their houses?
You say, “I’m too busy. I work all the time.”
Good. Don’t you have co-workers? And here’s the great thing about them – they’re stuck there with you for 8 hours.
If you just look around, you’ll see that you’re often busy with people or around people. Take those opportunities talk to people about Jesus.
This is a very popular excuse.
Some people say, “Absolutely. I’m all about evangelism. I witness with my life.”
To put it bluntly, that’s impossible. And here’s why. The gospel isn’t about you or the awesome things you can do. It’s about Jesus and the awesome thing that He has done.
Now obviously, we should live in a way that is consistent with the gospel. The Apostle Paul makes that very clear in his letter to the Galatians. But without words, your life is not going to bring anyone to Christ.
In his book “Jesus Continued”, author J.D. Greear says that trying to understand the gospel from someone’s life is like trying to understand a newscast with the sound turned down. You might be able to pick up on some things by watching. You can see what the newscasters look like. You might even get some idea of their personalities. But you’re not going to understand the message without turning up the volume.
The same is true for Christians. You can’t lead people to Christ without turning up the volume.
Maybe you’re familiar with this famous quote: “Preach the gospel with your life. If necessary, use words.”
It’s a memorable quote. It just needs some slight editing: “Preach the gospel with your life. Your life includes your words.”
Once all the excuses have been brought forward and dismissed, here’s the question that remains: Do we really want to bring other people to Jesus?
If we do, we will find a way.
Charles Spurgeon put it really bluntly when he said, "Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.”
We all have our reasons for not sharing our faith, but there is one big excuse underneath all of the other excuses: Our hearts and minds are not gripped by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We may know the message, but we’re not longer captivated by it. And this is due only to our own dullness, because the gospel is the most explosive and astounding message in history.
Jesus was not just another moral teacher. He wasn’t just a good man. He was God come in the flesh to save us. He lived the perfect life we could never live, and He died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserved. God saw the brokenness caused in this world by our sin, and He wrote Himself into the story to save us.
This is the most shocking act of mercy in history. It is the most important message we can give.
This is what the early church believed. This is the message that gripped them. This is the message they believed was worth dying for.
They had a burden for the lost, but more than that, they had a passion for the glory of God. They believed that God was worthy to be worshipped in every corner of the world.
In Acts 4, the apostles were dragged before the Sanhedrin, and they were threatened with death if they didn’t stop preaching the gospel. And this is essentially what they said, “You do what you have to do, but we are going to be faithful to our Savior.”
Most of the time, we settle for artificial motivation in evangelism. We know that we should be sharing the gospel with others, so we try to use guilt or duty to motivate us. But guilt and duty will only last you so long. The only thing that will sustain a day-in, day-out life on mission is being gripped by the gospel and captivated by Christ.
That’s why the role that Jesus gives us in this mission is to be “witnesses”. A witness is someone who testifies about something they have seen, heard, or experienced. So when we say that a Christian is a witness, we mean that they have personally experienced God’s grace. And that’s a daily experience.
So the first task of an evangelist is not to share the gospel, but to delight in it.
You are not a salesman. You are a witness. You’re not peddling some cheap product. You are communicating a message that has changed your destiny and that is transforming your life.
You have been placed in your church to help nurture this kind of heart-level motivation. That’s not something you can outsource. But if you’re looking for some great tools to equip your church family for evangelism, check out the gospel tracts at ProChurch.
Choose a design style, edit with your church info, and place your print order. In just a few minutes, you can have customized gospel tracts on the way to your church.