Is the work of evangelism – digital or otherwise – an option or a divine command for Christians? If it is a command, are most Christians obeying or disobeying it? These are just a few of the questions I want to consider in this month’s digital evangelism article.
According to a couple of recent surveys (one by LifeWay Research in January 2014 and another by Barna in December 2013), most Christians agree that evangelism (i.e., personal faith-sharing) is an individual Christian responsibility, yet these same surveys differ on how many Christians actually practice sharing their faith. In LifeWay’s survey of 1,086 Canadian Protestants, 78% had not shared with anyone how to become a Christian in the previous six months, while Barna’s phone survey of 2,083 U. S. adults revealed that a slim majority of Protestants (54%) had shared their beliefs about Christ with someone with different beliefs in the previous 12 months. The numbers increased slightly to 69% for those identified as evangelicals. This challenges the previous research I’ve heard quoted in some Christian circles where only one in five Christians has ever shared their personal faith in Christ with anyone else at any time in their lives. While I tried to find a source for this last statistic, I was ultimately unsuccessful at locating it at the time of this writing. Perhaps it is simply an unsubstantiated claim which arose out of someone’s uneducated guess. Nevertheless, it warrants serious consideration whether Christians are either as devoid of evangelistic effort as LifeWay’s survey asserts or as adept at it as the Barna survey purports.
Regardless of whether individual Christians believe faith-sharing is a personal responsibility, the real question is, “What does God think about it?” We need look no further than Jesus’ own words to His disciples to find the answer. In what we now call the Great Commission, Jesus commands His disciples (which includes us as His disciples today) to go into the entire world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Just a short time later in His farewell address before His ascension back into Heaven, Jesus commands His disciples to be witnesses for Him unto the remotest parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Since Jesus commanded us on two separate occasions to evangelize the entire world and since the Bible claims that Jesus is God in human flesh (John 1:1 & 14), perhaps we should take His words a bit more seriously.
The good news about sharing the Good News nowadays is that it’s easier than at any time in history to evangelize, especially if we choose to conduct digital evangelism. As I’ve written in several of my previous articles for this column, we can share the Good News about what Jesus has done to save the world in a wide variety of ways from maintaining a Web site to blogging to social media to writing eBooks and articles for downloading and Web browsing. Of course, there’s much more to digital evangelism than these few I’ve just mentioned, such as using audio and video recordings, so let your imagination run wild.
Since Jesus has made it clear that He expects us to tell others what He has done to save us personally and that He wants to save others, too, we need to make faith-sharing more of a priority in our lives than ever. I don’t think He wants us to do so out of a sense of obligation or out of a dread of punishment, however, but rather out of a sense of loving gratitude for what He has done for us and out of a genuine concern for the salvation of our fellow human beings. If we consider witnessing for Christ from the perspective of being an act of loving gratitude it changes our entire attitude. If time management is our excuse for not evangelizing more often, we simply have to cut out some other activities from our schedule in order to make time for this very important task. After all, once we get into the Everlasting Kingdom of Christ, it is very unlikely that Jesus will ask us who our favorite TV or movie stars were or how many technological gadgets we accumulated for ourselves or how many friends we amassed on Facebook or how many followers we attracted on Twitter or Pinterest. None of these things will stand the test of eternity. Only the lost souls that we somehow manage to win for Him will enter His Kingdom with us and stand alongside us to praise and glorify Him for His wonderful, matchless love and grace.
If we change our attitude toward faith-sharing and see it as something we get to do, rather than something we have to do, it will make all the difference in the world. I know of no better way to help change one’s attitude than pausing to consider all the many ways Jesus has demonstrated His love toward us through His suffering and death for our sins. If pondering this does not cause you to overflow with gratitude, you probably aren’t fully appreciating the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice. God Almighty, the Creator of the universe, loved each of us so much that He entered our plain of existence as one of us – a human being named Jesus Christ – and did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He lived His entire life without committing even one sin in thoughts, words, or deeds (because He is God, of course), and then He suffered and died in our place in order to make the gracious offer of everlasting life to us if we would simply accept it as the freewill gift that it is. To try to earn this gift or compensate God for it is an insult to Him. None of us deserves it and there’s absolutely no way for any of us to earn it or pay God back for it, so we must simply accept it with deep gratitude and appreciation.
I’ve gone into significant detail about this and several other aspects of God’s Plan of Salvation in my latest book, The Salvation of the LORD, which is due to be released by the first of July. It’s just one more way for me to conduct my own effort at evangelism. You can learn about its release on my Web site at books.parsonplace.com and get your copy wherever books are sold. Of course, my book on digital evangelism is a great tool for using digital technologies for evangelism, too, so I commend it to you as well.
No matter how you choose to evangelize the world around you, it’s important just to share the Hope of Christ with whoever will listen. It also helps to pray for God to direct our steps as we seek to win others for Him, because as Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44 NKJV). May God grant us all glorious success in leading lost sheep into His fold – as the hymn says, “safe and secure from all alarms”!
Michael L. White is the founder and Managing Editor of Parson Place Press, an independent Christian publishing house in Mobile, Alabama. His book Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! is available wherever books are sold. For a list of his other books and articles, visit his Website at http://books.parsonplace.com.