I have been asked to take part in a panel discussion in a few weeks on evangelism, so I’ve been trying to clarify my thoughts on the topic.
To me, the essence of evangelism is authentic communication. Authentic communication is the antithesis of manipulation or coercion.
There are plenty of examples, historically and currently, of how easily manipulative persuasion can become coercion and how devastating that is. Even in its most benign form manipulation turns people off.
Christians are commanded to take the good news of salvation to all the earth. All the admonitions, caveats and warnings in the Bible are addressed to the believer as guidance for each one’s faith journey. They are not there to frighten non-believers into the fold.
To me, evangelism is sharing my story of how Christ makes himself known to me and why I believe. It is making myself vulnerable and accountable.
Evangelism is about relationship: God’s relationship with each of us through his son; my relationship with the son; and my relationship with each person with whom I share my faith. Even the great revival meeting evangelists touched the individuals in the congregations, not the mass. Salvation comes to individual hearts and minds, not a target demographic or population.
Relationship requires communication. Communication, as opposed to manipulation, requires authenticity.
Know what you believe, why you believe it and get to know who you are sharing that story with, and you will be an evangelist.