So much of the current conversation about evangelism in the church seems to center on techniques, strategies, and methods. Seminary students can fight all day about whether the church should be missional or attractional. Pastors are quick to share their latest tactics: it’s all about inviter cards, or Facebook ads or going to the same coffee shop every day or getting congregants to write the church’s website on their restaurant checks or just about anything else you can imagine. No joke, I honestly got an email the other day offering a great outreach idea centered around duck calls!!
I wonder if all the focus on technique has caused us to lose sight of the role of prayer in sharing the gospel. Is it possible that what the church needs is more prayer and less technique?
Don’t get me wrong – organized outreaches, evangelistic campaigns and tools that make it easier for a congregation to have gospel conversations aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, they can be really helpful. But they need to be balanced with what Jesus says in John 6:44:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
It’s the Father who draws people to the Son. There’s nothing you and I can do to argue a dead man into life. God does that. Yes, we’re called to be ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20) and witnesses (Acts 1:8). Yes, we’re called to give an answer for the hope that’s within us (1Peter 3:15). Yes, God told us to go into all the world making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). But the work of conversation is a supernatural work of grace.
Do we pray like that’s true?
If we believe the Father is the One who draws people to the Son, our evangelism must be preceded by, accompanied by and rooted in fervent prayer. Do you pray regularly for the people in your life who don’t know the gospel? Do you pray for opportunities to share the gospel? Do you pray God would make you effective when sharing the gospel? If not, your prayer life needs a make over before your evangelistic effectiveness is going to increase.
I’m pretty sure those prayers would yield a lot more fruit than the newest evangelism craze.