Evangelism is a team sport

Proverbs 24:6 says “for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.”  The wisdom behind this proverb is that war is the fiercest contest known to man.  If you have any hope of winning you had better get the smartest, most experienced soldiers you can to advise you to do it right.

In terms of spiritual warfare, there is no activity more on the front line than evangelism. Yet we often expect people to engage in evangelism alone. We pat them on the back, give them some encouraging words and say, ‘hop to it’.  We send them out like an SAS soldier, alone behind enemy lines, without support.  We then wonder why people find evangelism hard and give up.  What might it look like, though, if we shined the battle-hardened wisdom of Proverbs onto the situation?

First we’d see that we all need help with evangelism.  We need guidance and good training from those with experience.  There are some great courses out there, but my favourite is a little known one from Focus Military Ministry called ‘Gospel Talk‘.  It’s a great course because it teaches you how to ask questions and listen well.  It has a very simple gospel outline and spends a lot of time learning actual skills rather than discussing ideas.

Everyone knows that training is not enough.  No one goes to war alone.  They do it as part of a team.  So why do we give people the impression that evangelism is a solo activity?  We all have different gifts, even when it comes to evangelism.  Some are great at getting straight to talking about Jesus.  Some people are great at building friendships and bringing people together.  Whatever your gifts are, one worthwhile thing we can do with our unbelieving friends is introduce them to other Christians.  They will discover that Christians aren’t crazy-eyed freaks whose heads spin and spew out green vomit (I hope), but are normal people just like them.  They will see how Christians treat each other (something they may have never seen before) and they will get to know some other people from church (so that when you invite them it won’t seem so foreign).  They may even get to hear how Jesus has impacted the lives of others.  All too often our Christian community is locked inside the 4 walls of a church or Bible study room.  We can export that community by mixing together our circles of friends – church, work, sport etc.  Why not try to make your unbelieving friends the church’s unbelieving friends?

Not only can we work together, but we can disciple one another in evangelism.  Discipleship is a powerful activity. Why would we leave evangelism out of that discussion? Mike Hanlon, from Focus Military Ministry, taught me this. When we disciple people, along with asking them how they are growing in Christ, praying and reading the Bible with them, we can ask them how their evangelism is going. Have you had any good conversations lately? Let’s workshop how you could have responded differently. Where are you up to with your unbelieving friends?  Where could you take them next?  How can I help?  It’s amazing how an outside perspective can bring fresh eyes to what feels like a stale situation.

Evangelism is hard work, but it’s what we’re called to do.  When we follow Christ we join him on his mission to seek and save the lost.  The more help we can give each other in evangelism the better.  Ultimately though, Proverbs reminds us that we may battle hard, but it’s God who saves:  “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” (Proverbs 21:31)