Evangelism is not an event, but a process. It is a series of relational and intentional steps we must take to bring a person to knowledge of Jesus.
There are three questions: Where do we start? Where does our job end? And what are the steps in between the start and the finish?
We must learn to view evangelism like a process where the believer not only hears the gospel, but sees the gospel exemplified.
The Gospel Garden
Everyone you meet is a potential seeker, but we cannot know for sure exactly who without a relationship. Begin by praying that God would make you bold and them soft.
We must be relational and have non-spiritual contact centered around their interests and hobbies. If we are not community-oriented, then we are not showing them the gospel. This process works best coupled with time and the body of Christ.
Finally, intentionality is key. If an otherwise solid relationship has no evangelistic intentionality, then it is not an evangelistic relationship, plain and simple.
Gospel Gardening Know-How
You begin gospel gardening by preparing the soil.
We know from the parable of the soils that three out of the four soils are not ready to receive the seed. Only the good soil retains and understands the gospel message.
One of the ways we prepare the soil is with personal transparency and clarity.
A big step in the right direction is simply to let others know you are a Christian. Let them hear “Christian,” “church,” or “Jesus” come out of your mouth. This will go a long way toward setting expectations in their mind about who you are and what you are about.
The longer you wait to tell someone you’re a Christian, the harder it becomes. Besides, if you wait till later to tell them about yourself they might feel you baited them into relationship just so you could share Jesus with them. If you identify early you will establish context for them.
We test and evaluate the soil by inquiring into people’s backgrounds, histories, upbringings, and experiences.
Asking thoughtful and intentional questions helps us understand them. We ask them questions to gain more understanding of where they see themselves in their own spiritual pilgrimage.
Do they self-identify as atheist, agnostic, materialist, relativist, or moralist? Ask and find out.
This dialogue allows us to determine their receptiveness to the gospel. The better we know the soil, the more we can contextualize the gospel for them. Knowing their context is important.
Now introduce them to Christ and His people.
Inviting someone to Christ and community can take many forms, but remember, we are not responsible for the growth—only the planting—and our aim is to do it as well as we can.
You can prepare, test, fertilize, and water the soil, but if you never spread the seed, fruit will never grow.
We sow seed by sharing Jesus with our example and our lips.
We can share our stories or present the gospel with a simple diagram or tool, but we need to show them the gospel.
We must not only invite them to Christian events, but invite Christians with us to their events. We should meet them on their turf before we can ever expect them to come to ours.
Finally, we can water and fertilize our tilled soil with the nutrients of God’s Word.
As you will notice the final step is not conversion. That is God’s job. We are merely faithful farmers in God’s harvest field.
Jesus says we need more laborers, not more of a harvest. Build enough of a relationship with people so that you could invite them to read some verses of the Bible with you or an evangelistic booklet or study.
Let God’s Word work. Let His word show them the Word.
I hope these steps provide you with a solid, clear plan going forward for evangelism.
None of these are airtight categories, but they should serve you on the road ahead.
Preparing the soil for harvest often looks different from person to person, but in general these are the steps to clear, effective evangelism.