by Ron F. Hale
Several years ago, I was reading a business book and suddenly shouted, “He stole one of our words!”
Guy Kawasaki has served Apple Computer, Inc., as their chief evangelist. That’s right – evangelist! Kawasaki wrote a book entitled: Rules for Revolutionaries back in 1999. I bought the paperback edition in 2000. At the time, I was trying to lead a network (state convention) of 1,000 congregations in evangelism. I was amazed at Kawasaki unapologetically using “evangelism” as a business principle and “evangelist” as a corporate position.
Kawasaki entitled chapter five as, “Make Evangelists, Not Sales.” In essence, he is saying that when you have people believing in your product or service enough to energetically engage their network of relationships with the good news of how this is going to better their lives – then you have evangelism taking place. He explains that evangelists have the best interests of the other person at heart, while a salesperson has his or her own best interests at heart.
A thunder bolt of righteous reality hit me: as Christian leaders have been borrowing and baptizing business models, words, and principles from corporate America, business leaders have been borrowing tried and true principles from the Church.
While church and denominational leaders have been studying slick ways to market the church for better strategic positioning (along with vision, mission, and purpose statements and corporate goals), the business world has been busy training passionate people to reach other people with their brand of “Good News.” Factual information becomes spiced with the commotion of emotion as they share what they believe. Kawasaki believes you can turn customers into converts. The movement mushrooms as more and more converts become evangelists. The business grows as the word and excitement spreads through living networks of relationships.
My fellow followers of Christ – Jesus proves to be the greatest evangelist in history. Two thousand years after his death, people are still dying for Him. His words are still inspiring books, movies, plays, sermons, and everyday conversations in a throng of languages. The simple, straight-forward words of Jesus answered the pertinent questions on the heart of every generation – what on earth am I here for and what lies ahead in the unknown of death? The mysterious last book of the New Testament declares that, one day, people from “every race, tribe, nation, and language” will be standing before Jesus Christ to worship Him. The word got out? That’s evangelism.
How are … WE … doing? You know, how are we doing in the 21st century – so far?
What’s working? What’s not working? Who’s working? Who’s not working? Who really loves Jesus? Which churches and denominations are growing though pure pagan evangelism? What groups are dying? How many church buildings are now antique stores or boarded up? Which groups are almost extinct? Why? What faith-sharing method is working best today? Who is using it? Where is spiritual awakening breaking out? Which congregations are experiencing real revival? Which congregations are sending missionaries overseas? Where are the “prayer meetings” interceding for lost souls? Is your church embarrassed by the words – evangelism, soul-winning, evangelist, saved, born-again, praying for the lost, or revival? Why aren’t congregations utilizing God-called evangelists? Where are the tear-soaked altars in America?
Does God have to break us with a Babylonian style exile? Do we need to be humbled by being marched naked into a pagan land before we get serious with God? Do we need 400 years of backbreaking, brick-making captivity? How many prophets shall we ignore or stone to death? How far must we allow our society to slide into the sludge?
Evangelism involves loving someone enough to surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to bear the uneasiness of looking into someone’s eyes while facing the fears of rejection, failure, and feelings of personal inadequacy. You share what Jesus means to you and how He changed your life. You deliberately and sensitively try to share about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and how His death can change one’s life forever by turning from sin and turning to Jesus in faith.
Like a mid-wife delivering a baby – you are continually whispering to the Holy Spirit for His help and the very words to say. As an Ambassador for Christ, you point to the text, the promises of your King, and you feel their soul-wrenching struggle as they finally surrender to His demands and conditions.
Then you celebrate the joy of God’s great and glorious salvation with them as they are born-again by grace through faith. You help them take their first baby steps of obedience toward the out-stretched arms of Jesus. You rejoice in their baptism and help them get plugged into a Bible study. You become a life-long friend.
Then you help them lead others to Jesus, as the cycle of redeeming love moves humanity toward the climatic return of Christ! Whether raised as one dead in Christ, or alive and caught up with Him in the air as the trumpet sounds, you are being raptured into glory, along with some you personally brought to Jesus.
We’ve got work to do my friend. The passion for evangelism comes by getting involved in messy lives and continually learning to share the Gospel in ways they can understand and respond. I don’t know anyone that said, “I don’t like that,” after leading someone to faith in Jesus.
© Ron F. Hale, November 29, 2013