I’ve been musing over evangelism lately and just how little Christians actually do it. I define evangelism as simply sharing your faith. God’s testimony is the Gospel. Your testimony is how the Gospel changed your life. I think Christians fail to share their faith for a host of reasons. Below I list various reasons I’ve heard or experienced as I’ve worked in the Church.
- Fear of rejection– We are simply afraid that someone might reject not just our message but us as the messengers. In our emotionally frail culture, the worst possible thing we can imagine is being rejected.
- Blindness stemming from materialism– Some people do not share their faith because they think God exists merely to materially bless them. God, the cosmic vending machine one, doesn’t require much of people other than some faith. As long as you have that faith, God blesses you. Of course, you may share this cosmic vending machine god and what he does in your life but that isn’t the Gospel in any way, shape, or form.
- Worldliness– A reason some Christians do not share their faith is that they’re no different than the surrounding culture. They’re, in a word, worldly. Their worldview isn’t the biblical one but the secular counterpart. It is odd for someone who lacks God’s values to value sharing how valuable Christ and His salvation actually are. A worldly Christian is not interested in reaching the world for Christ.
- Lack of love-As harsh as it sounds, some Christians simply do not love others enough to share the only saving message that exists. They have the cure for cancer but could honestly care less about the man or woman dying from the disease. Their neighbor’s house is burning down in the middle of the night and yet they’re turning over in their bed because they have to wake up early. This is nothing more than rank lovelessness and many Christians are full of it.
- Apathy to spiritual things– If you’re bored with the Bible or the God of the Bible, it is unlikely that there will be a passion for evangelism. Being dead to spiritual things isn’t just unfortunate; it is deadly for both you and others.
- Believing God hasn’t called them to it– Many a Christian is waiting for a subjective experience wherein God nudges them over to the lounge area at work to share their faith. If only God would give them a vision or write the words “share your faith with Linda in the workroom” in coffee grounds at the bottom of their coffee cup! Yet, he has commanded it. The sovereign King of the universe has declared and decreed you go share it (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). You’re called to it precisely because you have been commanded to do it.
- Biblical illiteracy– Some Christians aren’t sharing their faith because their faith has no content. They do not know where to start because they do not start or finish their day off in the Word of God. Of course they’re afraid of questions. They have not sought out answers in the revelation of God in human history.
- Unbiblical inclusivism-Many people cautiously assume, “of course God will allow the sincere Muslim, the faithful Jew, or devout Hindu” into heaven despite their lack of faith in Christ. The problem with this line of reasoning is Christ is the dividing line. Christ is where heaven and earth meet. Sincerity and even zeal are not the standards for truth. If the God at the top of the mountain has graciously and lovingly come down to raise us up, is it not arrogance to respond with trying to forge your own path to the top?
- Isolation from unbelievers-It is hard to share your faith when all the people around you are already saved. If one isolates himself from the world, you cannot reach the world for Christ. Instead of engaging the broken, sinful world system with the Gospel, many Christians retreat into spiritual communities. There’s no doubt that your faith can be built up in these communities. It is however doubtful that your faith can be shared in any meaningful way in your hermitage.
- Lack of discipleship– Some Christians are not taught the importance of evangelism. If they’re never taught the worth, it is doubtful that the desire in them will continue to grow. A desire for evangelism is created in the regenerate heart at conversion, but a lifestyle of evangelism has to be cultivated.
- A practical deism when it comes to the spiritual life– Deism is the idea that God stands aloof from his Creation and is just letting it go along as he has planned. It will be a great hurdle for a person who does not believe in an intentional God to be intentional about sharing his or her faith. The problem is that the Bible presents God constantly at work in the world (John 5:17).
- Arrogance concerning their salvation– If you think, “well I got saved because I was smarter, wiser, more spiritual than person X” it is likely the case that you won’t be telling that person about Christ anytime soon. John Piper writes, “The keener the memory of our awful rescue, the more naturally we pity those in a similar plight. The more deeply we feel how undeserved and free was the grace that plucked us from the flames; the freer will be our benevolence to sinners. We do not love as passionately as we ought because our belief in these things is not real. So our pride is not broken and our demeanor not lowly. And we do not look with aching and longing on the crowds that pass us in the airport or the straying members of our flock.”
- Bad theology-Whether it be hypercalvinism, annihilationism, or just straight religious pluralism, what we believe about salvation and Jesus will affect our evangelism. If there’s no hell, if everyone goes to heaven regardless of their faith, or if God does not use human means, there is no reason to share your faith. Of course, these are all just examples of bad theology. Bad theology has likely helped damn thousands.
- Good ole unbelief– You won’t share what you half-heartedly believe. You also won’t share what you do not esteem. To the degree that one values Christ over sin will determine how active they are in evangelism.
- Lack of examples from leaders– If you’ve never seen it from your own pastor or elders, you might not know how to share your faith. Thank God for faithful pastors, elders, and teachers who have blazed the evangelistic trails for young believers.
- You’re Lost– You might not be sharing your faith because you’re deceived and you do not have any. Spurgeon is quoted as saying, “I will not believe that you have tasted of the honey of the gospel if you can eat it all by yourself.” If the spiritual lead has not been melted in your boots, it may be that the Holy Spirit fire has not yet fallen upon you.
Of course none of these reasons are sufficient. We are commanded by the God of the universe to join him in his mission. Leighton Ford said, “We are to evangelize, not because it is easy, not because we may be successful, but because Christ has called us. He is our Lord. We have no other choice, but to obey him.” That is enough.