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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Evangelism is so much fun, it should almost be illegal! Not many Christians think that way, do they? Well, why not? After all, the word “evangelism” means “to announce the good news.”

But to many followers of Christ, evangelism feels like bad news. It’s another thing on our spiritual to-do list, another class to attend, another thing we don’t have time for. It’s scary, it’s for “super Christians,” and though we feel guilty about it, it’s just not something that most Christians ever do.

How in the world did we get to this place? Without a fresh movement of evangelism we will watch our children’s generation sprint into hell, our culture rot and our churches wither. We have been robbed of the greatest joy of following Christ, and it ought to make us mad. It ought to make every Southern Baptist stand up in determination and take back from the enemy what he stole -– the heart-pounding, purpose-filled life, the call to follow Jesus into people’s lives every day -– with good news!

That’s all evangelism really is, you know -– sharing good news with friends. Now that’s not scary to anyone. Have you ever had really great news to tell a friend? Did you dread it? Were you glad to get it over with? Of course not. It made your day. We have eternal good news to tell –- and it’s time to tell it.

I have the best job in the world. I get to be good news, tell good news, and teach good news everyday, everywhere I go. But it’s not just my job. It’s my life. If God told me I couldn’t do evangelism anymore, I would want Him to take me home, because nothing else will fill you with passion, joy and expectancy like sharing the good news of Christ. It’s just flat-out fun.

I am committing my life to help evangelism become good news again -– for all of us. In the weeks ahead in these columns, you will get practical help to make your life a mission. You will hear from more than me. You will hear from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Alvin Reid, who may be the finest teacher of evangelism I have ever known. You will hear from pastors and practitioners, from normal people who are having the time of their lives sharing good news, and even from new believers who will tell us how they came to Christ. And you will hear “good news stories.” Like the story of my new friend Dennis.

I met Dennis just a few weeks ago. Some friendships take months to form. But if we will care about people and listen to them, other friendships will form instantly. Dennis sat by me on a flight from Atlanta to Nashville. He was a soldier on his way home from Iraq. God gave us an immediate bond because I work with chaplains at the North American Mission Board. I just asked Dennis if he had ever talked to a chaplain. He said, “No, but I sure need one.” I told him God must have put me there to be his chaplain. He shared with me his guilt over having killed so many combatants in Iraq. He held up his hands and said, “These hands are covered in blood. How could God ever forgive me?” He was amazed when I told him that Exodus 15:3 says that “the Lord is a warrior,” and that he was protecting my family and had nothing to be ashamed of. When I told him the good news that God would meet his real need and give him a new life, he immediately received Christ just as we landed!

Do you know what it is like to watch a soldier reunite with his family and then tell his wife that he had just prayed to receive Christ? It was amazing. I called my wife while I watched him embrace his family, told her the story and said, “Honey, it doesn’t get much better than this!”

And it doesn’t. It’s time for you to get in on the fun. Make a friend. Tell him your story. Tell him God’s story. It’s time to make evangelism good news again.
John Avant is vice-president of evangelization at the North American Mission Board.

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  • John Avant