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FIRST-PERSON: Recapturing evangelism


Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Recapturing Evangelism by Matt Queen, vice president for academic administration at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book, published by B&H Academic, was released earlier this month.

FORTH WORTH, Texas (BP) – From time to time, God distinctly superintends circumstances at particular places to prompt Christians to evangelize. In such a case the Holy Spirit internally impresses upon a believer that he or she must share the gospel with a specific person. In so doing the Spirit is personally making an opportunity for the believer to evangelize. Most other times, however, believers should be taking an opportunity to share the gospel. If they find themselves in conversations with others whose standing with God and eternal destination is unknown to them, such an encounter should prompt them to take an opportunity to share the gospel with those people.

Evangelism does not happen incidentally. It occurs intentionally. Intentionality in evangelism is not simply knowing you should evangelize, rather it is constructing a plan to evangelize consistently and executing it. Believers who are not deliberate in evangelizing will ultimately relegate evangelism to nothing more than a good intention. To practice consistent evangelism, it must be planned—whether into daily, weekly, and/or monthly calendared events, or planned obedience in those moments of unscheduled prompting by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, evangelism will never occur by accident. It may take place during times and at places believers neither expect nor anticipate, but it will never occur until and unless they actually decide to evangelize. Those who fail to plan time to evangelize will fail to find time to evangelize. Believers will not evangelize consistently if they do not make evangelism a personal priority.

Evangelism planning can take two forms. The first can be referred to as a corporate evangelism plan. This type incorporates groups of believers, preferably those who belong to the same church, who schedule evangelism on a recurring basis. Nathan Lino has suggested, “Organized, public evangelism leads to organic, personal evangelism.”[1] This corporate evangelism planning promotes accountability, encouragement, and structure. The group of believers should develop a strategy and employ a coordinator to maintain the plan.

The second form of evangelism planning is best described as a personal evangelism plan. This refers to an individual believer’s own strategy to share the gospel persistently. Those who want to implement their own evangelism plan will find it helpful to incorporate a daily evangelistic petition during their quiet time, such as this one: “Dear God, give me opportunities to share the gospel today. When they occur, help me recognize them, and give me the courage and boldness to make the most of each opportunity to be able to share the gospel.”

In addition to praying daily for opportunities to share the gospel, believers should adopt a rubric, or guidelines, by which they can easily identify the evangelistic opportunities God will provide them in answer to their prayers. Charles Stewart, a former pastor who has taught applied ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has suggested a helpful set of guidelines to assist believers in developing their own personal evangelism plan. He has proposed four evangelism guidelines intended to prompt and encourage the intentionally consistent practice of personal evangelism:

  1. The Holy Spirit Guideline: In whatever circumstances I find myself, when the Holy Spirit prompts me to engage a specific individual in a gospel conversation, I want to do so obediently.
  2. The Five-Minute Guideline: If the Lord gives me a captive audience with an individual for five or more minutes, I will try to engage that person in a gospel conversation.
  3. The Homestead Guideline: When the Lord brings a person whom I have not previously met onto my property or into my home, I will try to engage that person in a gospel conversation.
  4. The Detour Guideline: When the Lord interrupts my daily routine so as to direct me to a place that puts me in contact with someone I would not otherwise have met, I will try to engage that person in a gospel conversation.[2]

The Holy Spirit Guideline is a foundational principle that stimulates the practice of personal evangelism. Specifically, the latter three evangelism guidelines help personal evangelists become more aware and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. These guidelines are intended to be principles that encourage believers to practice intentional and consistent evangelism, not some form of legalism that imposes self-condemnatory forms of guilt upon them. The Lord leaves the work of his evangelistic enterprise neither to mere coincidence nor to convenience. He demands obedience. Instead of waiting for just the right opportunity to evangelize, believers should look for and take every opportunity they have to evangelize.

[1] Nathan Lino, “#70 – Igniting a Genuine Fire for Evangelism,” August 3, 2021, https://www.namb.net/podcasts/evangelism-with-johnny-hunt/70 – igniting-a-genuine-fire-for-evangelism, 10:12–16.

[2] An earlier version of Stewart’s guidelines was introduced in Matt Queen, Mobilize to Evangelize (Fort Worth: Seminary Hill, 2018), 67.

    About the Author

  • Matt Queen