Why Evangelism and To Live?
By Jonathan Shumate, with help from David Doty.
Evangelism is the natural outflow of worship. Like air rushing into a vacuum to fill it, those who truly worship God go into spaces where worship isn’t happening and fill them with worship.
The connection between worship and evangelism means that wherever evangelism is minimal, the worship of God among His people is likely anemic or corrupted.
For many, getting to see a new blockbuster film in the theater is a treat. Imagine a group of people so privileged that they get to see the greatest movie ever made, every week. They also have unlimited tickets to give out to anyone who wants to see the movie. But they never tell a soul about it. Nor do they hand out a single ticket. Or imagine having a weekly invitation to the finest meal on the planet. You are told you can invite anyone else you want to come, too. But you never invite a single soul!
That would be ludicrous. Yet this is how many American Christians live their lives. Every week we go to church. We hear the gospel. We fellowship with others. We are strengthened in our faith and renewed in the promises and truths of God. Then we go home and don’t tell a soul about it.
Somehow we have convinced ourselves that the movie we’re watching is pretty lame, even though we’ve developed a weird fascination with it. We hope no one will ever catch us there. We’ve convinced ourselves that the food we think is so great is actually quite bad. Rather than Instagram it or tell our friends about it, we keep quiet, and hope no one finds out about our weird obsession.
This is how many of us think about our faith. It is meaningful to us, so we enjoy it. But we are convinced that if a non-believer ever found out that we believe the gospel, they would either respond with apathy and boredom, or they would make fun of us and laugh in our faces for believing in something so ridiculous as a God who dies and rises to save his enemies.
I can think of no easier way for Satan to discourage evangelism than by convincing the church that the God we worship is not all that great; that the gospel we believe is not all that interesting.
When we think such things about God, we cannot be said to really worship him. One cannot worship God and feel, at the same time, that He is embarrassing. That He is boring or uninteresting. Yet so much of typical evangelical culture’s defensive, fearful, and anxious posture toward non-believers is rooted in this belief about God.
Now, every word I write points back at me. I am just like you. I don’t share my faith nearly as often as I should or could. And it is mainly because of fear. Selfishness. And anxiety.
Unfortunately, this tells me a lot about what I really worship on Sunday mornings.
Evangelism’s close connection to worship explains why our first big project at CrossLife is developing a platform to train and mobilize believers for evangelism. Evangelism is not simply an activity we do as part of our Christian life. It is one of the essential fruits of who we are as believers. In other words, when we believe in Jesus, worship is our central activity toward God and evangelism our central activity toward others.
We see this even in other areas of life. When we consider something we love and enjoy, our natural activity in relation to that object is to worship and praise it. Our natural activity in relation to others is to tell them about the things we love and enjoy. To share them.
That evangelism features so sparingly in our concept of the so-called “normal” Christian life reflects negatively upon us.
Now I am not wise enough to completely resolve the problem, but I have an inescapable feeling that something is very wrong with the way we worship God if we are not led to evangelize on a regular basis.
Certainly, there are many ways to evangelize. But I am convinced we are not doing much of any of them on a regular basis. The question to which I return in my own heart is, “What does our lack of evangelism say about us and about what we really worship?” If we truly worship God, shouldn’t we be talking about Him with others a lot more? And shouldn’t we be doing more to help others believe the gospel?
I see this lack of evangelism in my own life, and in the lives of many others. This motivates me to make To Live a priority in 2020, both for myself and for CrossLife. I am eager to discuss many topics, especially in relation to faith and the human body. But since evangelism is so central to our faith and worship, I believe this is where we need to start.
The goal of To Live is to train and mobilize the average Christian, both in the U.S. and around the world, to share the gospel at least 1-3 times per year. The platform itself, however, is not enough. Just as a great nutrition and exercise plan will not actually do anything to help a person lose weight if not utilized, To Live is a tool that will help those who desire to evangelize be able to do so regularly, confidently, and effectively.
The first stage of To Live will consist of a website featuring a six-part video series explaining the gospel. The final video in the series will invite participants to believe in Jesus Christ and provide essential guidance for next steps. The platform will also feature a free digital book in several major languages that will correlate with the videos, but will also serve as a standalone gospel presentation. (Print copies will be available at cost). There will also be a growing set of study guides in multiple languages for believers to use, correlating to the book and videos. These will enable a believer to sit down with someone and dive deeper into the gospel. I aim to have the To Live platform ready for trial by Fall 2020 and launched in early 2021.
The current plan for stage two of the project is an app similar to the YouVersion Bible App. It will feature CrossLife’s own gospel-sharing content but will also include content from partner ministries that target specific demographics and language groups. For example, I hope to have an organization like Young Life be able to share evangelistic content via the app that is specifically designed for youth to use with other youth. Or for a mission organization to provide content for a specific language group. All of this would be available through an app on our phones, thereby turning our mobile devices into ready-made evangelistic tools.
If you would like to get involved and help To Live reach finish line, whether through your financial support or by contributing your time and creative talent, please contact me today! We still need to raise about $35,000 for the initial project, and we’ll need many volunteers in order to complete all of the necessary tasks on time.
Click here to view the first video of the To Live series on the gospel and evangelism. This is the full version of the video, and we value your feedback.
The wonderful news that we all need to hear, and of which we all need to be reminded, is that the same God who has saved us is still at work saving people around the world today. Let us go into 2020 knowing that God is calling people all around us to himself, and that He has put us wherever we are to share the Good News of salvation by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ.