I have a shelf full of books on evangelism but that doesn’t make me evangelistic. We have a problem if we have read more books on evangelism than the number of people we have studied with. I am convinced that you don’t have to be an expert or know the latest (fill in the blank) in order to be effective in reaching the lost. You just have to try.
We have overcomplicated our message. Must one understand the nuances of substitionary atonement or N.T. Wright’s criticism of various atonement theologies in order to help bring people to faith? Not at all. Is it helpful? It can be. But what inadvertently gets communicated is that evangelism is a boutique enterprise. It is a specialized field for the highly trained because the message is often presented in a professionalized and highly nuanced way that only experts can understand. This communicates the wrong message about evangelism. You don’t have to be an expert to evangelize. You just have to try.
Second, what I have also come to realize is that the power in evangelism is in the word of God and not in my ability to persuade or catch people in a trap. I need to get the Word of God before people who don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God. If they can be exposed to the scriptures, then they have something to latch on to but more than that – they are being exposed to the words that have far more power than my words do.
Last, we need to start with new converts and begin teaching it as normal to reach others when you have been reached. Disciples make disciples. The message is simple. You just have to do it.
It really isn’t that complicated and most of us have studied enough to do what we have been told to do. You aren’t one more book away from reaching a lost person with the latest strategy. You are one conversation away.