Mack Stiles, in a current blog post for Crossway Books, wrote about 10 Things You Should Know About Evangelism. I found a couple of his points worthy of discussion.
1. Evangelistic programs will kill evangelism.
We need to replace evangelistic programs with a culture of evangelism. Programs are to evangelism what sugar is to nutrition: a strict diet of evangelistic programs produces malnourished evangelism. So, we should feel a healthy unease with regard to evangelistic programs. We must use them strategically and in moderation, if at all.
2. Evangelism flourishes in a culture of evangelism.
Much instruction is given about personal evangelism. And that’s right and good since we’re each called to testify to our own personal encounter with Jesus. But when people are pulling together to share the gospel, when there is less emphasis on getting “a decision,” when the people of God are pitching in to teach the gospel together, a culture forms that leads us to ask “Are we all helping our non-Christian friends understand the gospel?” rather than “Who has led the most people to Jesus?”
For Stiles, developing a culture of evangelism is much better than relying upon programs. And I might add that developing a culture is much harder.
Programs tend to be events or campaigns that come and go. It is true that they can serve as catalysts for developing a culture of evangelism, but many times, when the program ends, so does the evangelism. It’s out of sight, out of mind.
A culture of evangelism however, is one which is woven into the very fabric of a body of believers. It is not a special emphasis that is announced every now and then, but is something that is as natural as breathing.
A culture of evangelism is an everyday activity. It belongs to everyone wherever they may be. And it’s not always about the spectacular, but about the ordinary. Tim Chester writes that “most people live in the ordinary, and most people will be reached by ordinary people.”
So what do you think? Programs or culture? Or is there a balance?