Have 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?