Theme: Outreach in times of revival
‘But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’ 1 Peter 3:15-16
When my wife and I were sent out to help a small church plant in the northern suburbs of our city there were only about seventeen people in the congregation. One of the first tasks was to get out and reach the local community so I challenged the little band of disciples with this imperative. “But we don’t know how to evangelise,” they complained, “Please teach us how.”
So, like any conscientious pastor, I set myself to developing an entire programme on personal evangelism. I read everything I could get hold of, I bought copies of all the well-known programmes and I attended a two day seminar on the subject. The result of all this was a course designed to comprehensively cover the topic and to give a huge amount of practical advice and how-to techniques. A dozen faithful souls sat through numerous sessions and the result was… nothing. No one went out to evangelise and no one got saved as a result. Sigh!
What I subsequently realised is that not everyone is called to be an evangelist but we are all called to be witnesses. Christianity is not a religious system that needs to be sold, but a relationship with Jesus that needs to be shared. If it were a system to be sold then we would need to be trained and equipped and incentivised. But it is not! What we need in order to witness is a real relationship with Jesus to witness about.
My response nowadays to requests for one-on-one evangelism training is pretty simple and goes something like this: “If you knew enough about repentance, belief in Christ Jesus and profession of faith to be saved, then you know enough to share.” In truth, though, the only real incentive for sharing is a vital relationship with Jesus and His people. In times of revival many people experience a wonderful renewal of the vitality of their relationship with the Lord Jesus. From what I can gather from the historic reports, in revival times it is hard for people not to share their faith. So, revival brings with it a powerful wave of personal witness that results in multitudes being drawn into the Kingdom of God through the passionate witness of friends, family and acquaintances.
If my experience is that I haven’t shared my faith with anyone for some time, then this should drive me to my knees to pray, “Lord, revive me!”