Ding, dong. They are at your door. Or maybe they are walking through the train. They’re selling something you don’t need or want. It is a children’s encyclopedia set, some kind of kitchen gadget, or cheaply made toys. How do you feel? The primary thought in my mind is always, “How do I get rid of these people as fast as possible?” I want to stay polite and kind, but not have to listen to them! Many people feel that way toward us when we share the gospel. Are we just salespeople, pushing our goods? No. Absolutely not. But, our evangelism is no more than a slick sales tactic, if it doesn’t flow from genuine love for the unreached.
It’s Love Not Performance
Evangelism starts with love. Allow God to continually fill you with His heart for lost people. If we are doing evangelism out of a sense of duty, obligation, or an “I should”, we will not be effective. Nor will our efforts bring pleasure to God. He wants us to have His heart. Is this still your primary motivation for sharing His story? God’s aching heart for the lost?
Our tendency toward performance orientation can affect us. We may develop an underlying sense that we must do evangelism to win (or keep) God’s love. It is a lie. But it can still impact us. Instead of sharing good news from a heart of love, we start to share it out of duty. We begin to do it because we should. We need to return again and again to our loving Father. Let Him fill us once more with His heart, with His love- for us and for others.
Love Is Always More Important Than Methods
It is helpful as we train people to have them learn a method of evangelism. We teach them how to share their testimony and the Jesus story. It builds confidence and competency. This is important. But in training, always start with the trainee’s heart. Evangelism starts there. People sense whether you love them. They know if you are sharing the gospel to “convert” them, or because you genuinely care about them.
Ask God For A Luke 15 Heart
My “go to” chapter when love for the lost is getting a bit cool is Luke 15. There are three stories in a row about God’s heart for the lost; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Take a few minutes to read and meditate on this chapter sometime this week.
1 Cor 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”- NIV
Are we “gongs and cymbals”?
5 Signs You’re Loving The Lost
Sign 1- If I love the lost, I sincerely and specifically pray for lost people.
Loving the lost around me starts with praying for them. That is why having a Lost and Saved list that I pray for daily has helped me so much. Develop a growing heart of love for the unreached around you. Start a habit of regular prayer for them.
Sign 2- If I love the lost, I prioritize giving time to them.
Sadly, many missionaries and pastors are too busy to make friends with the unreached. Todd Johnson of Global Christianity says 86% of Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims do not even know a Christian. But even when they know us, we have no relationships that go deeper than an acquaintance. Why?
The primary enemy of reaching the lost is our busyness. We must be very intentional about making space in our lives for lost people around us.
I decide ahead of time. If there is a lost person who needs my time or wants to talk- it will always take a higher priority than my projects, task list or meetings. Making that decision beforehand gives you the freedom. You can stop and interact with lost people around you. You will respond to opportunities and needs.
Sign 3- If I love the lost, I see them as people, not as an object of my ministry goals.
I will be bold here. Believe me, I speak from experience and am also challenging myself.
If you only share the gospel during “ministry time” you are probably doing it out of duty and obligation. Your motivation is performance, not love. I don’t mean to be harsh. I understand that we are all busy. Setting aside time in our schedule for evangelism is a great idea. I am all for it.
But if that is the only time when you think about the lost or make time for them, you need to go back to Luke 15 and 1 Cor. 13. Ask God to renew your heart for lost people.
Sign 4- If I love the lost, I open my mouth to share the good news with them.
Loving people ultimately means taking the risk of sharing about Jesus with them. If you say you love your neighbors but have never even tried to share the gospel with them, something is wrong. You may be enjoying the relationship. Do you love your own comfort over their need for Jesus? It is uncomfortable to share the gospel. We fear they may reject it (which sometimes feels like they are rejecting us). Some will be offended and reject the gospel. But many will respond to God’s love expressed through you.
Has Anyone Ever Told You About Jesus?
We were living next door to a photocopy shop. Since we didn’t have a printer at home, we often went there to make copies or print things out. All the Christian missionaries in town used this guy. He was cheap, fast and good.
One day as I was standing there getting my copies made I said to him, “A lot of foreigners come in here to make copies.”
He replied, “Yes. All the missionaries come here.”
I was a bit taken back. I guess he knew exactly who we were and what we were doing there! So much for our carefully crafted “platform.”
I decided on the bold approach. “Have any of them ever told you about Jesus?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I don’t know much about Jesus, except what I learned in school.”
I then had a chance to share with him the story of Jesus. He listened with interest and openness. As I went home I rejoiced at the opportunity God had given. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said.
All of us foreigners had come to this city in response to the Great Commission. How was it possible that we weren’t sharing the gospel with someone we all had so much contact with?
Overwhelm Us With Your Love God!
Ask God to fill you with His love in a fresh way. We need His heart to spill out of us and impact lost people. Why not take a moment, even right now, and ask God to renew that heart in you? He wants love to be your motivation. Not pleasing Him, not doing your ministry duty or job, not satisfying your leaders or supporters- His love is what must compel us. Let’s ask Him to overwhelm us with His love today. Evangelism starts there.
Wonderful message. I was looking for some material for a message I am preaching today on lifestyle evangelism in India online and this popped up. So needed right now with the hatred and division in our country. I have several people I have become friends with as well as some relatives I have gotten close to that are Jewish, Muslim. gay, transgender or don’t know if they even believe in a God and if there is a God they aren’t turning toward the Christian direction because they have been so hurt by the church/Christians. What they are seeing right now in the United States at least is that many Christians are more committed to waving their “right” political flag and telling them they are evil without giving them one iota of love or care as a human being to understand them or to give them any reason to even consider any other view.
Two of these friends who are reading my 12 Step Christian meditation book who have watched all my videos and read all my writing beg me not to identify myself as a Christian because it may turn people away from working with me which they think would be a travesty because I make people want to get to know the God I know without being judgmental. How sad is that? They told me not to compromise sharing the gospel but to not turn people like them away by hanging “Christian” on my marketing. We need to live lifestyle evangelism and that does NOT include posting hateful messages about LGBTQ, Black lives matter, democrats or anyone who God created! He desires tha ALL would come to repentence and we are called to love them ALL. I fear there will be many selfl-righteous “christians” (small c) that are doing “work” in His name that will hear “depart from me I never knew you” like it says in Matthew 25. Thanks for the great post
Thanks for sharing this Linda! Yes, it is so true. More and more, in a US context, we must contextualize the gospel to build a bridge to those who are hungry but repulsed by “evangelicalism.” May God guide and give you wisdom as you reach out. Blessings!