MC Leader Huddle Content: Evangelism
In June, we will be focusing on how as MC Leaders we live as ambassadors for Christ as we are united to him by faith. We’ll look at this on an individual level as men, but also how to foster an understanding of the role everyone plays within a group as it pertains to proclamation. To begin, I’ll be synthesizing chapter five from Mack Stiles’ book Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus which is entitled “Actually Sharing Our Faith.” I’ll do this despite the admonition early in the chapter to his readers not to jump right to this section while missing the content in the first four chapters! It’s a good, quick read, written through 9Marks “Building Healthy Churches” series. Check it out and enjoy, but for this post we’ll focus in on chapter five assuming that Stiles will be forgiving of us.
Using 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 as a guide, he highlights the aspect of our identity in Christ as ambassadors. We make an appeal, imploring people to be reconciled to God on behalf of Christ who, for our sake, was made to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. We are ambassadors, making an appeal, and telling people that righteousness comes from being in him. Union with Christ, the ongoing driver of our discussions over the past few months, is present in our evangelism. We are ambassadors, and we have a message to share. And the power of the message is union with Jesus Christ himself.
“We must get the message right. After all, ambassadors don’t have the freedom to change the message; their job is to deliver it accurately…We must deliver the message regardless of the discomfort produced, effort required, and shame endured. Ambassadors exist to deliver messages. So we shout out, ‘Be reconciled to God.’ We may not feel like representatives of the kingdom of God, but that is what we are. It is how we are seen in the spiritual realms, and it’s an astounding truth.”
Seeing ourselves in the proper light is necessary as we enter the world with the message of reconciliation through union with Christ. As we live as ambassadors, Stiles shares some basic principles that guide his conversations with people about faith:
- “Give yourself grace when you share your faith. I’ve noticed that I often fear evangelism because there are so many ways to go wrong. I can flub the message. I can keep silent when I need to speak. I can say things that later I think were stupid. But it’s good to remind yourself that even your mistakes can help you be a better ambassador.
- “Meet people where they are.
- “Look for open doors. A culture of evangelism is really helpful here. When church members share about the open doors they have seen around them, other members might hear opportunities with which to get involved.
- “Be compassionate and maintain a tender heart toward others. Be careful to remember that you are a sinner. Humility commends the gospel.
- “Remember that we have the answers to life’s biggest questions. That’s something you can offer. When the reality of life pierces through the superficial barriers that keep people from God, that’s where you can shine the light of the gospel. Don’t hide it under a basket.
- “Focus on people’s separation from God, not on being morally upright.
- “Be intentional in your conversation. Plan out what you will say. This helps you to say things that are helpful, and not say things that are awkward or offensive.
- “Acknowledge what we know and what we don’t…The Christian does well in [a ‘sin-sick world’] because he or she knows how it got that way. I also find it helpful to tell people that I don’t always know the whys of what God does, but that I trust him as the one who makes sense in a broken world.
- “It’s good (though not required) to ask permission to share the message of the gospel.
- “Ask lots of questions. Be a good listener.
- “Finally, if you anticipate a certain issue in a person’s life, it’s good to be acquainted with it by reading a book or talking with someone who knows about the issue.”
As these principles become part of our everyday lives, we can then be bold with the gospel message wherever God has placed us. “It’s my sense that boldness is the most needed element for evangelism for the Christian community, at least in North America.” Boldness in our evangelism is almost hamstrung in our nominal, Christendom-laced area whereas in countries without religious liberty it’s absolutely necessary and fostered as a normal part of discipleship.
As we grow in boldness, flowing from our understanding of union with Christ, we must remember that we deliver the message and entrust the results to Christ. “It’s good for us to remember salvation is a work of the Spirit. We try to be thoughtful, bold, and clear in the way we tell others about the gospel, but God brings the results. We can rest in that knowledge.”
And lastly, Stiles tells us not to lose heart as ambassadors citing 2 Corinthians 4:1. In that passage, Paul reminds himself that the light of Christ “has shone in our hearts to give the light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). He preaches the gospel to himself, his companions, and the Corinthian church as they proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.
Stiles also looks to Philemon 6, where Paul says, “and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
“Paul is saying something that I rarely hear: that sharing our faith is for our benefit, too, so that we might gain a full understanding of the good things we have in Christ.” Evangelism actually reinforces and expands our understanding of union with Christ and therefore we do not lose heart but become more and more bold as we go! The word used for sharing, koinonia, entails fellowship and partnership similar to what Paul thanks God for from the Philippian church (Phil. 1:5). Paul prays Philemon's faith is strengthened as he participates in a lifestyle of sharing his faith with fellow saints who, as it's the nature of the Church, share with the world.
Sharing our faith glorifies God in proclaiming his Son as the only meditator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). It is the means by which the Spirit convicts and converts, and it’s a means by which we grow in our faith and understanding of our identity. As ambassadors, our role is clear: to share the gospel actively with expectation of God doing a work in and through us, to the glory of his name alone.