When I was 19-20 years old I was living in Ireland and working for a pentecostal church. If you know me that's something you'll find funny. It's actually at this church that I became a Calvinist, later to become reformed*. While I was there and working as an Intern we had to go out each Wednesday afternoon for 'one-on-one' evangelism. This meant that we wandered around City Center or the local college campus and found people to talk to about Jesus. Honestly, I don't at all fault this form of evangelism. But for me, it was hell.
With the understanding I had there must be a proper 'presentation' of Jesus. As if we were in a board meeting and if the presentation didn't go right nobody would by in. At times I felt like I was a good friend trying to find a prom date for the Savior or the world. I watched the evangelism training video's, memorized verses because they were the ones to say. And no matter what happened, I hated it. And I felt a form of toxic shame that would last an eternity.
If I went out and didn't share the gospel in the right way...someone went to Hell. If I didn't go out...someone went to Hell. If I forgot the right verses...someone went to Hell. No matter how I looked at the equation, someone was headed to Hell and it was all my fault. And this went on week after week. What was designed to build up the courage of our intern group and lead people to Jesus only made me feel as though I wasn't good enough. I never felt like a forced prayer was something Jesus would have wanted, so I rarely ever had someone repeat the 'Sinner's Prayer'.
It was into this frame of mine that the Holy Spirit began to give me what has been called a 'Gospel Awakening'. For so long I had looked at evangelism as something that I must do. I must learn the right words, at the right times, in the right tone of voice. And if I did everything right, then A plus B would equal someone becoming a Christian.
But as I began to dive into Scripture I began to see something else entirely. Well, more of two things that began to roll together. The first was that salvation was the Lord's (Ps. 3:8). This was truth came up everywhere as I read. This idea that God was the one who sought us began to become real to me. Christ Himself declared that all those that the Father has given to Him will come to Him (John 6:37). And those are the ones that had been ordained to salvation (Acts 13:48). The Father even ordained before the foundation of time those that he would draw to Himself (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:29).
For me this began to fill me heart with freedom. God saving people rested upon the shoulders of God, and not me. Now I am not saying that we should not speak the truth of the gospel, for Paul even calls us out by asking us, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" (Rom. 10:14).
So I saw the clear teaching of Scripture that God saves people. Not me, not my favorite pastor, and not the church I am going to. God saves sinners.
The other truth that began to become clear to me was that evangelism is less a structure to be learned and more of a way of life for a believer. Christ even told us that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34). This is something that we all now to be true. Sit with someone for 30 minuets and you'll be able to tell what they love. It pours out of us. We talk about what we love.
This is one of the reasons that I hate 'evangelism' classes. They teach Christians how to turn people into projects that can be discarded once the project is finished. Instead, we should show people why Christ is t be loved. For, if we truly love Christ then He will flow from our mouths.
I began to see that the only reason that I could even love Christ at all was because He had loved me (1 John 4:19). Even when I was His enemy He loved me and gave His life for mine (Rom. 5:10). That before the foundation of the world I was predestined for adoption as a son of God (Ephesians 1:3-10). And being held by this love there was nothing that could separate me from that love (Rom. 8:31-38). And even now, as I see myself as broken and sinful, Abba sees me seated in Heaven in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6).
So I would ask everyone who reads this to look within themselves. If you believe yourself to be a Christian, do you love Christ? Does He flow from your heart out of you mouth?
Look through the teaching of the Scripture and allow yourself to truly love Christ. See who He really is and what He has done. Meditate upon these things. Let yourself be consumed with what He has done though we deserved none of it.
Allow yourself to be washed in grace, and see grace begin to flow from yourself.