Evangelism as a Discipline

By Melodie Sun

I have never accidentally shared the gospel with anyone. This is not to say that I have never had an unexpected encounter with someone that led to the gospel being shared, but even then, there was an intentional decision during the encounter to steer the conversation toward the gospel. Even if your speech is always gracious and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6) and unless you have a natural bent toward evangelism, you are probably like me in that it usually takes some mental preparation before a conversation to muster up the courage to share the gospel. If evangelizing takes preparation, then evangelizing regularly takes discipline. If we are not intentional about putting ourselves in situations where we have the opportunity to share the gospel, our gospel conversations will be scarce.

Sharing the gospel can be intimidating for various reasons: feeling unequipped, fearing rejection or even fearing the seriousness of evangelism. We know we should evangelize, but because of our fears, we often make up excuses, such as “I have no time,” “I cannot communicate the gospel clearly,” or even, “I do a lot of other ministry activities already, so I can skip evangelism.” Much has been said and written about these reasons and excuses, so rather than addressing these issues here, what if we flipped the whole narrative around? Particularly for those of us who know that Scripture commands us to share the gospel but simply do not do it, instead of making excuses not to evangelize, what if we gave ourselves reasons to evangelize?

Ideally, our primary motivations for evangelism should be the desire to obey the Great Commission and share the Good News we have received with others. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit gives us boldness and empowers us to be witnesses. However, in terms of evangelism being a discipline, sometimes we need an additional reason to get ourselves to do what we know we should do or even want to do—an excuse to share the gospel. Perhaps it looks like telling a friend you want to share the gospel and asking them to keep you accountable or signing up for a gospel-sharing challenge. One time, I used an evangelism class assignment as an “excuse” to share the gospel with a friend who I had been praying for but had always been too scared to share the gospel with. Sometimes, our motivation just needs a tiny boost.

On the other hand, besides raising our motivation level, we can also lower the barriers to sharing the gospel. One way to do this is to deliberately put ourselves in situations where we can evangelize. Especially from the perspective of evangelism being a discipline, we ought to actively seek opportunities to share the gospel instead of passively waiting for opportunities to come along. Part of the discipline of evangelism is learning to look for opportunities for gospel conversations. Interacting with unbelievers is not enough; we need meaningful discussions that lead to gospel conversations.

Helping to raise motivation and lower barriers is something that churches can facilitate by creating space for members to engage with unbelievers. For example, some churches may send members out to the local shopping center with various gospel tracts to engage passersby with the gospel. Other churches might invite the community for table talks about the community’s felt needs and facilitate space for members to engage in gospel conversations. However it happens, the key is to create opportunities for gospel conversations.

The nature of practicing spiritual disciplines is that the more you practice them, the more habitual they become and the more we desire to do them. The same holds true for evangelism as a spiritual discipline. The more we look for gospel opportunities, the more we will notice those opportunities, and the more we share the gospel, the more we will want to share the gospel.

Evangelism may never become so second nature to us that we share the gospel on accident without thinking about it. Still, evangelism does become less intimidating the more often we do it. As with any other spiritual discipline, we must do it. Look for opportunities for gospel conversations and take advantage of those opportunities. Give yourself extra reasons to do so if necessary. Ultimately, we want to be obedient to the Great Commission, and treating evangelism as a spiritual discipline is one way to help us do that.

Published March 18, 2024

Melodie Sun

Melodie Sun serves as the English Ministry Director at Ark Baptist Church in Milpitas, California, a Chinese heritage church pastored by her father. She has a Master of Theological Studies from Gateway Seminary and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity. She desires to see the Chinese youth of America love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Some of her hobbies include reading, trying to run her life on Excel spreadsheets and watching video reviews of premium Bibles.