Evangelism Part 1: Do We Understand The Definition?

100-Natural-Ways_Book-Cover_FINALTo celebrate my new book, “100 Natural Ways To Grow A Church,” I am writing a series on evangelism. Christianity has always preached reverence for the Great Commission. Merriam-Webster defines the word “commission” as : 1) a formal written warrant granting the power to perform various acts or duties, a certificate conferring military rank and authority; also:  the rank and authority so conferred. 2) an authorization or command to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts :  charge. 3) authority to act for, in behalf of, or in place of another, a task or matter entrusted to one as an agent for another. 4) a group of persons directed to perform some duty, a government agency having administrative, legislative, or judicial powers, a city council having legislative and executive functions.

There is an unmistakable stamp of government on the word commission. Christianity is a theocracy and God is our leader. I propose this Biblical view: when you entered the Church, you entered God’s army. St. Paul explains our role in God’s kingdom as a soldier when he wrote to Timothy:

“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

St. Paul explains how to arm ourselves with the word of God in his letter to Ephesus:

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breast place of righteousness, and having shot your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

When St. Paul wrote his second letter to Corinth, he describes our mighty weapons:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

To finalize this point, Jesus positions himself as the head of this army and requests our enlistment:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword… And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)

The day you joined the body of Christ you were commissioned as a soldier. God bestowed upon you a military rank of the Royal Priesthood, a rank which God asks you to fulfill every day. All Christians begin with this rank, and no one was born into the army. Even a child must be commissioned. To organize His army, God gave us this hierarchy: the laity, the deacons, the presbyters (priests), and the bishops.

So what is this commission to evangelize and how is it different from proselytizing? The word “evangelism” has many negative connotations in our modern society. As America becomes an anti-Christian society, we must redefine evangelism and introduce everyone we know to its loving origin. The evangelism I am writing about might be better called Attentive Evangelism.

Next week we will examine principle one of Attentive Evangelism, the Great Commandment, and how it was demonstrated in March of 1965.

Question: How do you define evangelism?