Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Mark’s blog, preachleadlove.com
Four lessons from the early church
As we seek to apply biblical strategy to evangelism efforts in the contemporary church, much can be learned from observing the evangelism efforts of the early church (specifically the first 100 years of the church’s existence, roughly A.D. 30 – A.D. 130).
The passion of the early church to reach the lost should be nothing short of inspiring to modern-day followers of Christ. As A.W. Tozer observes in his article, “Evangelism: Early Church Methods,” we can today learn much from the “single mindedness of the early church … to go witness, give everything to the Lord, and give up all to God, bearing (one’s) cross and taking the consequences.”
I would like to briefly address four characteristics of evangelism in the early church that I believe we must apply to our 21st-century evangelism efforts.
1. Evangelism must be one of the church’s primary objectives.
Jesus was very clear in leaving the Great Commission for the church to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person, that many might be saved and sanctified to the glory of God. The early church was passionate about this commission to reach the lost and even when the numbers of the faithful reached tens of thousands, evangelism never lost its place as a central focus of the church’s mission in the world.
2. We must seek the Holy Spirit’s direction in our evangelism efforts.
In Acts we observe the invitation of the Holy Spirit given to Barnabas and Paul that reads, “Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). We see all through the book of Acts these leadings of the Holy Spirit as He calls men and women to evangelize and minister in the name of Christ. Our churches today would be wise to faithfully and humbly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our own evangelism and ministry efforts.
3. We must seek to evangelize the lost as we live lives marked by love and joy.
One of the observations we make, as we study the early church and specifically the book of Acts, is that the lives of these early believers were marked by love and joy, resulting from an intimate, personal experience with Christ’s love and grace. Their attitudes and actions were often drastically different from individuals who did not know Christ, and this often attracted the lost to their message of hope. In our present context as believers, we must strive to live contagious lives marked by love, joy, and much grace, just as we observe in the lives of many early followers of Jesus.
4. We must be a church whose evangelism efforts are centered on faithful, persistent prayer.
Prayer was the source of power for the early church (Acts 4:31; 2:46). These Christians didn’t simply talk about the importance of prayer in their evangelism efforts, but rather they faithfully prayed. Many of us Christians today would do well to spend less time talking about the importance of prayer for the lost, and more time on our knees actually praying for the lost to come to saving faith in Christ. On our knees, we proclaim our utter dependence on God as His instruments to reach a lost and dying world.,
Published September 17, 2019