John Carter – December 31, 2015 – Topical – Discipleship, Evangelism, Missions
Encouraging a Passion for Evangelism & Missions
Follow Me by David Platt
Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
Life on Mission by Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe
Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybles
From Every Tribe and Nation by Mark A. Noll
Discipleship, Evangelism and Missions are all brothers in the same house. For the sake of clear communication we will use the following definitions. Discipleship is the organic and systematic processing of training another person in the ways of Christ Jesus. Evangelism is the intentional oral communication of the gospel to unbelievers. Missions is doing evangelism. Although we could expand these definitions I will leave it to you to fill in what you find lacking in my intentionally brief definitions.
Part 1. Encouraging Evangelism
Evangelism is compelled and commanded for Christians (2 Corinthians 5:6-15)
We must understand that evangelism in normal for spiritually mature Christians. In 2 Corinthians 5:11, 14, (Context 2 Corinthians 5:6-15) the apostle Paul writes,
“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men…Christ love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
He doesn’t say,
“Since we are Apostles, we try to persuade men” or
“Since we have a special gift of evangelism, we try to persuade men.”
Rather, he writes that because he fears the Lord, he is compelled to share the gospel and the love of Christ. The same should also be true for every Christian—because we fear God, we are compelled to evangelize.
Evangelism is commanded of all Christians (See Matthew 28:16-20). We share our faith with an unsaved world because that is what God commands us to do. It makes no sense to hoard the gospel to ourselves. In fact it is evil to withhold the gospel message. We have the best news that anyone could ever want to know. So, why wouldn’t we want to share such good news?
Evangelism is a source of joy for Christians (Philemon 4-7)
Not only should we evangelize because we are expected to as Christians, but also because evangelism is a critical source of joy for Christians.
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints (Philemon 1:4-7).
Paul expresses joy in the fruit of God’s work in the life of his friend Philemon. But he also encourages Philemon (and us by extension) to share the gospel regular so that we may have a full understanding of every good thing. When we share our faith, we gain a fuller understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Not sharing our faith is choosing willful ignorance. Although we are never to guilt Christians into doing evangelism, we still want Christians to share the gospel because it deepens their relationship with Christ—in order to fully understand (and presumably enjoy) the good things we have in Christ. We must share our faith. Evangelism is not just for the other person; it helps us to grow spiritually.
Evangelism is for God’s Glory (Romans 3:21-26)
The third reason why we encourage evangelism rests in its ultimate purposes: to glorify God.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Christ (Romans 3:25-26).
The purpose of God’s substitutionary work in Christ was first and foremost to vindicate the name of God, because his prior forbearance toward sin had caused his justice to seem to be called into question. We know from other places in Scripture that God showed love for us through the sacrifice of his Son, but glory of God was the first thing he had in mind. God receives Glory through his actions and through the resulting praises of the nations.
Encouraging Evangelism in Discipling
In your discipleship relationships, you gain more motivation for evangelism when you understand why you are doing it. Discipleship is not behavior modification, but the shaping of a Christian’s heart, mind, desires, and motivation. We don’t want to encourage legalistic obedience, but heart-transforming, God-glorifying reasons for evangelism. To do this requires an authentic concern for those who are dying without believing or even hearing the gospel message.
An active concern for the lost teaches volumes for others. If you are a discipler, it helps when your friends see evangelism as a natural part of the fabric of your life. It’s not done with a special program; or as an occasional activity; but it is a normal part of your day-to-day existence.
Take some time to think through how you can strategically reach out to others. Evangelism doesn’t have to be spontaneous. It can be very deliberate and planned out. Sometimes it takes just a simple conversation with a friend—thinking through who is in their sphere of influence; who displays and openness to spiritual things; and who they are praying for. Just one or two simple conversations can give your friend the encouragement he or she needs to be bold.
Please see the recommended book list for further suggestions on how to spur these conversations.
Keep in mind the importance of a church active in evangelism. A healthy culture of discipleship should do a lot to commend the gospel to an unbelieving world. By watching how we live together, unbelievers will either see the gospel to be true or false, because the outside world will know we are his by how we love each other. Likewise, a healthy church culture will spurn its members on to evangelism. This is why our corporate gatherings should have a clear emphasis on praying for and participating in global missions. Do we pray for the lost in our times of worship? Do we anticipate the future gathering of the nations to worship at the throne of God? Do we share stories of how God is moving in our evangelistic efforts? Corporate worship is not about us. It is about God and his Kingdom coming. We should want to regularly encourage evangelism through our corporate gatherings and our corporate prayers.
Part 2. Encouraging Missions
If there are many things we can focus on in discipling– dating, marriage, career issues, parenting, money management – why would we want to give headliner status to the topic of missions? Here are a few reasons why we want to encourage missions in discipling.
Missions, just like Disciplship is not Optional (3 John)
There are a great number of things in the Christian life that one can choose to do or not to do without any blot on your Christian discipleship. We can sing in the choir, play in the band, or serve as an usher. These things are significant, but optional. Not every Christian is expected to be involved in them. But involvement in the cause of Global Evangelism is not one of those optional things. All Christians are called to serve the cause of global evangelism in one of two basic ways.
As we discuss those that ‘Go’ and those that ‘Send’ I want to identify a few false dichotomies. Meaning these things are not diametrically opposite and therefore you must chose one of the others. Going v. Sending = False Dichotomy. Evangelism v. Disciplship = False Dichotomy. Evangelism v. Sending = False Dichotomy. These things all work together and at times are hard to distinguish from each other.
Goers. (apostles, or missionaries) (Matthew 28:16-20; Romans 10:5-17) There are some who are called by God (whatever that may look like) to leave the place where they are, and going somewhere else with the deliberate intent of sharing the Gospel message in a new place or with a new people. Cf. Matthew 28:18 and Romans 10: 14-15. I would consider myself a full time missionary.
Senders. The Biblical picture is that if we don’t go, that doesn’t end our responsibility. Rather, then we structure our lives in order to help support, encourage and to send. And at the same time being a sender does not absolve ourselves from the responsibility to evangelize and make disciples in our daily lives.
In the book of 3 John we see the universal imperative for ALL Christians to be involved in missions. John writes:
“Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (vs. 5-8).
In the passage, we see some who sent out by a church for the same of Christ’s name, and there are some who are to show hospitality to and send out those who will go abroad to proclaim the gospel. Both goers and senders are a part of the work of missions. For those who send out missionaries, a passion for global missions should be a normal part of their life.
The Great Commission was given to the church. Missions is the work of all members of a church, not just a few. Therefore, we want to instill a passion for missions in every person we disciple. It is impossible to have a biblically faithful church without also having a passion for global missions.
An Engagement with Missions Facilitates Spiritual Growth (3 John)
We deliberately talk about missions in our discipling relationships because we want our friends to prosper spiritually. Again, John writes:
“The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John vs. 1-4).
How does John say that Gaius was showing his faithfulness to the truth that especially highlighted his spiritual health?
“Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (3 John vs. 5-8).
John seems to base much of his confidence in Gaius’ spiritual health on Gaius’ willingness to care for and welcome itinerate evangelists or missionaries sent out presumably by John’s home church. This particular act demonstrates for John Gaius’s love for the lost and for other Christians. We should also take a warning that disinterested support of missions is not loving. Action out of obligation is not loving. Action out of faithful obedience is. We must communicate the need to Go and send with the fruit of love.
We deliberately cultivate this kind of love in the lives of our friends because we want them to do well spiritually. Cultivating a passion for missions promotes spiritual health because it is one of the most selfless things we can do as a Christian.
An Engagement with Missions Brings God Glory (Romans 15:8-21)
If we are genuine Christians, then a desire to see God glorified should be a very real and significant part of life. In your discipling relationships, You do your friend a great service when you cultivate a taste for missions. You help him or her participate in the prophecy of the nations coming to worship the living God.
Missions Seldom Discussed as part of Basic Discipleship
When people think in terms of 1-on-1 discipling, missions ought to be discussed. Christians talk about their personal devotional life, their prayer times, their struggle with sin, and even their need to do local evangelism, but the issue of the global missions cannot be neglected. If we want people to understand this aspect of basic Christian discipleship, we need to be deliberate in talking about it.
Encouraging Missions in Discipling
So what can we do in discipling relationships to encourage this passion for missions?
- Make the topic of missions a regular part of your relationship. Just like prayer or Bible study, you can make this concern for missions a regular part of your discipling another person.
- When you get together you can make a point to regularly pray for missions and missionaries. If you are meeting up with someone regularly, just make a point of praying for one of our supported workers in the back of the CHBC directory.
- Read together a good book on missions. See the recommended books above.
- You can also consider various missionary biographies: To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson, Courtney Anderson; Faithful Witness: The Life and Mission of William Carey, Timothy George
- Model a concern for missions. Let your friend know how you are personally, deliberately structuring your life in order to be faithful to God’s passion for global missions. Let them know about the decisions that you’ve made about your time, your money, your vacations in light of your desire to advance the work of Christ around the world.
- Talk specifically about their role in global missions. Although not every Christian will become a pastor or missionary, every healthy and mature Christian must at some point ask what his or her role is in God’s plan to reach the nations. Some will be goers, some will be senders, but all must be involved.
Discipling Those Who are Considering Becoming Missionaries
Finally, a few thoughts on what to consider if the person you are discipling seems like they may want to become a missionary.
First, get them to start talking with others. Encourage this because we want people to be praying for them. We also want them to do this because, quite frankly, some people might need to be properly oriented before they go abroad. I often encourage young fiery believers, “don’t tone down, Get Better!”
Second, encourage them to talk to a church leader sooner rather than later. Christians can falsely believe that a calling to missions is an intensely personal decision. A decision to pursue missions must involve your local church. Rather than making a settled decision and then informing your church leaders, it is better that you get elders or other godly leaders involved very early on in the process. The only way an elder can shepherd you and care for you in this process is if you make yourself known early on. Please don’t ever think that you are wasting the elder’s time if you haven’t figured everything out yet.
Third, help them realize the local church sends missionaries. This is the Biblical pattern (See 3 John). The burden should never be on one person’s shoulders alone to discern a call to missions or to prepare for the work of missions. A servant of God must be humble enough to receive Godly counsel from the local church and those close enough to speak into his or her life. Our church as a whole wants to help; to walk with them as they consider how they are called to fit into God’s plan for the nations.
Fourthly, consider what the church would be looking for is a potential missionary: Dependability; faithfulness in attendance and serving in the church; stable Christian beliefs; a track record of good judgment; a consistent prayer life and quiet times; and sound theological understanding of God, Christ, man, and Scripture. See 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus for more details here.
- Concern for evangelism and missions is a basic part of what it means to be a faithful Christian disciple.
- Helping our friends to understand this truth will give them greater joy, and God his rightful glory.
 Based on CHBC’s Core Seminar – Discipling – Class 10: Encouraging a Passion for Evangelism & Missions
 John 13:35
 The support given here is for the daily needs of the one going. Although the funds can be used beyond that the immediate concern is, “How do we allow the one going to focus of spreading the gospel instead of trying figure out how to pay their bills?”