How to Live as a Contagious Christian: 3 Ways to Practice Evangelism
- Dr. David Hirschman Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics
- 2021 21 Dec
Evangelism doesn’t always come naturally for Christians. Many want to share the gospel but feel hesitation, or don’t know how to start, what to say or how to answer questions they might encounter. Some fear a bad reaction or worse, rejection. Sharing your faith should not be something that creates stress or induces worry but rather, evangelism should be an authentic part of how we, as Christians, conduct our lives. In other words, it should be our main goal to be a contagious Christian, spreading our love for the gospel and Jesus by the way we live our lives and interact with others.
Being an influencer for Christ is one of, if not the most important things a believer can do. When we look to the New Testament, there are countless examples of Jesus and His disciples living contagiously, spontaneously sharing their message of hope and grace with those around them. They candidly spread the gospel wherever they went through their words, actions, and behaviors. In order to be a contagious Christian, it is vital that we first come to understand what evangelism is, and the importance of integrating it into our daily lives as followers of Christ. Below are a few ways to begin practicing evangelism from a course on evangelism from Colorado Christian University’s Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics.
1. Evangelism Requires a Heart of Love
First and foremost, evangelism begins with positioning our hearts toward love. Evangelism can actually be counterproductive if it is not motivated by love. When the love of Christ captures our hearts, it moves us to practice the tender compassion that Jesus modeled. When we see others as beautiful creations of God, we make loving and caring for others a priority and our intentions become genuine.
To establish a heart of love, one thing that might be helpful is to think back about how your concept of evangelism was established. Dissecting the ways in which we have come to frame and view evangelism allows us to better combat the truths and untruths about why we share our faith and ensure that our hearts are in the right place to evangelize out of love like Christ displayed for us.
In the Bible, Mark 10 paints a picture of this perfectly. A rich young ruler asks Jesus what he needs to do in order to inherit eternal life. When Jesus tells him to follow the commandments and the young man says he already has, Jesus calls him to then go and sell all of his possessions. It’s in this moment that instead of looking at him in disdain or disapproval, Jesus looks at him with a heart of unconditional love despite the young ruler’s countenance growing sorrowful because he realizes he’s not quite ready to give up his wealth. Jesus does not judge, ridicule, or shame the young ruler. Like Jesus, when we see people as lost sheep who are in need of the Good Shepherd, we are called as disciples to reach out to them with hearts overflowing with God’s love.
We must pray and ask God to work on our hearts so we can love like Christ and share the good news with the right motivations. We need changed hearts to be used by God to better love others and serve the Kingdom well.
2. Evangelism is Not a System or Program
Evangelism is not a system or program. It is the expression of people who love their neighbors and want them to know Jesus in a real and personal way. Sharing the gospel is not a pyramid scheme--it is the natural outpouring that happens when hearts are aligned with God’s truth and the joy of that experience is so powerful that you just can’t help but tell others about His greatness and goodness. It's this natural response to the hope found in a relationship with Christ that causes people to want to tell others. People can easily be turned off by evangelism that is fake or forced, but when you are sharing your story and what God has done in your life, it helps people truly understand what it means to be part of the Kingdom of God.
Everything we do should be done out of love. Matthew 22:39 reminds us that just as evangelism starts from a heart of love, our actions on behalf of others should continue because of love. The two greatest commandments that God gives us are outlined in Matthew 22 as well. Jesus says that first, we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. Secondly, He proclaims that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Our calling is clear and there are no strings attached. When people are skeptical or fear evangelism as a scheme, recall Scripture and point them to the truth that it provides. In addition, make sure to share your personal story and what God has done in your life to impact others.
3. Evangelism Involves Prayer
An essential part of evangelism is praying for the people in your life that you hope will hear and understand God’s love. The Gospel of Luke, in chapter 18, emphasizes the power of prayer and teaches us its value and importance. We, as humans, no matter how desperately we desire, do not hold the power of changing the hearts of people. That responsibility falls into the hands of our sovereign God. However, there is great power in prayer and we must not forget to talk with God, utilizing our personal relationship with Him to ask Him to help others’ hearts change. We can bring our concerns and desires to Him or ask his guidance in how to share the gospel message. We can pray for God to move in the hearts of unbelievers so they, too, can experience the love of Christ and the promise of eternal life.
Prayer is an all-the-time practice. As contagious Christians, we must develop the habit of prayer where it is a part of our lives day in and day out. Having designated times of prayer and reflection can be helpful to implement this discipline; however, prayer should also be both a spontaneous and constant part of our lives. We can pray anywhere and at any time to our beloved Father. In the end, God holds the power to soften the hearts of nonbelievers and bring them to know the glory of Jesus- we can trust in His timing, plan, and power.
Becoming a contagious Christian can have an unmistakable impact on the lives of those yet to believe in Jesus. Contagious Christian evangelism begins with a heart of love. Through love and learning to not treat evangelism as a system or program, and learning to prioritize praying for people continually, we are sure to see the Lord work in our hearts and the hearts of nonbelievers everywhere. We all need to reflect on our views of evangelism and consider if we are allowing our fears to inhibit us from naturally sharing our faith as God always intended for His children to do. Christ has called us to evangelism as part of our work here on Earth, so it’s time we started listening. Are you?
This piece was adapted from the first session of a 5-session course on evangelism offered at Colorado Christian University’s Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics. The course is titled, “Contagious Christians: Sharing Our Faith Naturally,” with the first session, adapted here, primarily created by Dr. David Hirschman.
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