Many people are confused about evangelism. They want to be committed to evangelism, they see the need for it, and they understand their biblical responsibility, but they are confused. Why? Because there are a lot of things that are called evangelism that are really nothing more than poor substitutes. Here are a few of them.
1- Evangelism is not getting someone to repeat a prayer: If your goal is to talk someone in to repeating a (sinners) prayer, then you are committed to manufactured results, not evangelism.
2- Evangelism is not inviting someone to church: This is important, and it may work in conjunction with evangelism, but it is not evangelism.
3- Evangelism is not social work: Again, this is important. It is a task to which all Christians should be committed, but it is not evangelism.
4- Evangelism is not winning an argument: Apologetics is important, and it is necessary to be able to defend what we believe, but arguing or debating and evangelism is not the same thing.
5- Evangelism is not the same as the results of evangelism: It is easy to get the two confused. Someone accepting Christ as their Savior is the result of evangelism. The success of evangelism is found in our faithfulness to the task, not in the perceived results.
6- Evangelism is not a program: It is easy for individuals to rely on a program of the church and, by default, neglect their personal responsibility. Evangelistic programs are great and needed, but they do not replace personal evangelism.
7- Evangelism is not simply supporting overseas missionaries: This is needed, but if this is all we do we are in danger of outsourcing our evangelistic responsibilities.
8- Evangelism is not just a willingness to confront a stranger: If we are willing to knock on the door of a stranger while ignoring our neighbor and the people we see daily, it is not evangelism we are committed to, but a cheap substitute.
What is evangelism? Mark Dever stated it perfectly. “The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn’t converting people; it’s telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.”