Actually Sharing Our Faith
December 11, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
This past Sunday evening we gathered as a church family for a fellowship meal and to finish our discussion about Mack Stiles’ book, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus. We had a wonderful time of fellowship over good food; we did not get a chance to talk about what it practically looks like to actively do the work of evangelism. We took the time to have a family conversation about the opportunity to purchase a building for our church. I want to use this space to briefly focus on Stiles’ fifth and final chapter and provide some practical take aways on the topic of evangelism.
Stiles’ uses his final chapter to focus on the Christian’s role as an ambassador for Christ, based on Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” According to Stiles, there are five traits of a faithful ambassador for Christ.
1. Ambassadors exist to deliver messages accurately. “We must get the message right. After all, ambassadors don’t have the freedom to change the message” (p. 101). This is where Stiles’ book has been so valuable: in explaining the clear message of the gospel, which we proclaim. As Christians we have the duty to know the truth of the gospel well enough to explain it to another.
2. Ambassadors think through conversations. There is no “one size fits all” process of evangelism. A good ambassador is a good listener and takes care to understand the recipient of the message. Stiles has some great pointers regarding this on pages 102-105.
3. Ambassadors must be bold and clear. Stiles says, “Boldness is the most needed element for evangelism for the Christian community, at least in North America” (p. 106). Perhaps we’re afraid of offending someone. Perhaps we’re afraid of hardships we’ll endure if we’re bold. The desperate need of sinners, however, and the surpassing worth of Christ should overcome those fears with a sense of urgency and boldness to proclaim the Good News.
4. Ambassadors deliver the message, while trusting Christ for the response. Stiles has been consistent throughout his book to emphasize the biblical truth that we cannot manipulate the responses of those who hear our message. Only God, through his Holy Spirit, can open one’s heart and lead them to faith. There is great comfort in this truth.
5. Ambassadors do not lose heart. The task of evangelism feels daunting at times. We often feel ineffective in sharing our faith. We do not see the responses we desire to see. Stiles reminds us that there is fruitfulness in the process and not just in the results of evangelism. “Knowing that God works in me when I actively share my faith gives me hope even when no one responds positively to my efforts” (p. 112). God delights to work in us while we seek to be faithful to his calling and command on our lives.
I pray that we can be a church full of ambassadors for Christ, proclaiming the Good News that Jesus died for sinners like me and you. I pray that we would be bold in sharing this hope with people who desperately need it, even if they don’t recognize they need it. I pray that God would be pleased to use us to draw many unto Christ in faith.