Should Non-Evangelists Share The Gospel With People They Don’t Know?

Who-Are-You1Have you ever heard this phrase? “You have to earn the right to evangelize someone.” What is usually meant by this is that you need to first develop a relationship with someone before you speak to them about the things of God. Developing relationships WHILE evangelizing is certainly biblical, Jesus befriended sinners (Luke 7:34).  He never withheld the truth from people in the developing stages of relationship. Still, this question of whether one has to earn the right to evangelize another remains. 

In a Facebook wall conversation a couple of days ago, one of my friends said that “giving Christians a prepared gospel presentation to share with people that they don’t know is nonsensical.”  Another said that “the gospel should never be preached on a bus.”  Perhaps some of you reading this would say that the gospel shouldn’t be preached on the street corner, in public restrooms, in a grocery store line etc.  If that’s true, and the criteria is whether or not we “know” people first or have a relationship with them, then what about strangers/unbelievers that walk into a church/congregation where the gospel is being preached? 

Some might say that evangelizing, in the strictest sense, is the “work of an evangelist.” (2 Timothy 4:5)  Some might say that only those gifted as an Evangelist need to do that work. (Ephesians 4:11)  I suppose some would say that the Evangelist has the right and the duty to preach Jesus, His Peace, Grace, Kingdom, Salvation, and Reconciliation to anyone at any appropriate time without “relationship,” but the non-evangelist does not and shouldn’t.  If we limit Mark 16:15 to the work of a few, then this argument might have some merit. But I’m not so sure that’s the case. I believe that both Matthew 28:19,20 (The Great Commission), and Mark 16:15 are inseparable.  I believe that what was given to the 11 Apostles is trans-generational and applies to every believer. I believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all that believe (Romans 1:16), and that what every believer believes is to spoken.  (2 Corinthians 4:13)  

It’s popular to crunch theological catch-phrases like “You have to earn the right to evangelize”; “You have to build bridges before you cross them”; “You have to be in relationship”, “You have to incarnate the gospel,” etc., but it seems that none of these do justice to Jesus words;

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Do we need the “right” to engage any person, anywhere with the gospel,

or must we meet some relational requirements? 

 

 

 

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    1. I’ve never heard the phrase, “You have earned the right to evangelize.” That would sound strange to me given that to share the gospel is to share about the One who has had the greatest impact on us. What I’ve heard, instead, is something like “That’s not one of my gifts” in response to the question, “When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone?”

      This is just another thing that we make too difficult in our quest to add a cool complexity to the Christian life. We share what we have passion about…and we do so without fear of rejection. In the case of the gospel, it is God who uses the gospel to save, not us. We’re just the messengers.

      I like ice cream. There is chain with franchises in my city that makes and sells perhaps the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Because I am so passionate about Graeter’s ice cream, I can be something of a Graeter’s evangelist. I’ve never had to debate or argue anyone into enjoying their ice cream. All I do is take them to the store (or bring some from the store to the person) and let them “taste and see”.

      It might be that there are those who just do not like good ice cream. Perhaps that means that I’m part of the “frozen chosen”…one of the ice cream elect as it were. Perhaps they are so deep into their food rebellion and sin that they could never enjoy it on their own. But, again, I’ve not had the experience of providing someone some Graeter’s ice cream, watching them eat it and the seeing them frown.

      My sharing the good news of a savior to who came to give life is very similar.

      Getting back to your original question, I’ll modify a quote from the bandit “Gold Hat” from 1948’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

      “Evangelists? We ain’t got no Evangelists! We don’t need no Evangelists!
      I don’t have to show you any stinking Evangelists!” :)


    2. “We’re just the messengers.” – That’s interesting. That puts the onus on the power of the message regardless of who or how it’s delivered. It’s like not believing a letter you receive from the mail carrier because they walked funny or smelled bad.

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