Last night while waiting for a meeting I finally started in on Mark Dever's The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. So far, really good stuff. Encouraging. In the first chapter Mark gives us 12 steps that can help us begin to shake off the complacency and begin sharing the gospel. I'll summarize them, but you'd do better to read it for yourself. 1. Pray. Our weakness is evangelism is often related to an absence of prayer. When we neglect praying about evangelism we see the task as too big for us, or opportunities too scarce. Mark says if we pray for opportunities we'll be amazed at the ways God answers.
2. Plan. Because we don't plan to evangelize it generally doesn't happen. Many of us tend to think we are presently too busy, and think time will materialize later. It will not. Make time, develop a plan.
3. Accept. We have to accept that God has given us the responsibility of sharing the gospel. It is not the calling of a few, not limited to the "gifted." Mark says, quite dodging your responsibility and make the necessary adjustments.
4. Understand. Part of the problem for many is a misunderstanding of what makes our evangelism effective. Success in evangelism is related to faithfulness, not fruit. Fruit is the work of God, not man.
5. Be Faithful. Mark says, "Maybe we are too polite to be faithful to God in this area. Maybe we are more concerned about people's response than God's glory." For many the desire to be polite and not offend people (or in my case, not wanting to come off like a salesman) is an excuse to remain unfaithful to the call of God.
6. Risk. Some people are shy. We often do not know what a person's response will be when we present the gospel. In my own recent experience, I fear losing a potential relationship by throwing out the gospel too soon, or too awkwardly. We will often have to risk (a relationship, embarrassment, etc.) in order to be faithful to God.
7. Prepare. Give your evangelistic work some thought. What potential objection or question might your hear? You are more likely to engage if you have prepared yourself in advance.
8. Look. Apathy, laziness and busyness can keep us from seeing the opportunities God provides. So can unbelief. Pray for opportunities and then anticipate God's provision.
9. Love. If we love people we will seek their good, and this of course includes sharing the gospel with them.
10. Fear. - of God, not man. When we refuse to share the gospel with others we "are not regarding him or his will as the final and ultimate rule of our actions."
11. Stop. Mark says, "We should stop excusing ourselves from evangelism on the basis that God is sovereign. We should not conclude from his omnipotence that our obedience is therefore pointless." We must affirm both God's sovereignty and man's responsibility as it relates to conversion and evangelism.
12. Consider. Pointing to Hebrews 12:3 Mark points us back to the gospel itself. He says that when we aren't considering the cross of Christ we lose the heart to proclaim the good news. True gospel-centeredness will compel us to evangelize.