In several respects, evangelism is different than any other Christian practice. It entails intentionally speaking to a lost person about Jesus. Although our behavior should be consistent with the gospel we are sharing, evangelism is still that—sharing the good news that Christ died for sinners and calling a person to repent and believe the message.
The uniqueness of evangelism was especially apparent in our previous climate of lockdowns, mask mandates, social distancing and quarantines. Pandemics don’t mean Christians no longer have to evangelize. We’re not off the hook. If anything, our evangelism should increase in urgency and output during pandemics. It’s not to say we should be reckless about our evangelism, compromising people’s health for the sake of sharing Christ. But it’s also not to say we should suddenly shut it down just because of the current scenario.
This can be seen when we compare evangelism to worship services. If the government were to come out and tell us we can no longer worship the Lord, we have a mandate to do so anyways. This is the same thing with evangelism. Even if it were illegal, we would still be obligated to do it. In both scenarios, the way we worship or the way we evangelize may be different than how we would ordinarily do things, but we would still do it, hopefully. But there is one remarkable difference about evangelism that can’t be said about regular worship. I point this out in my book, 10 Modern Evangelism Myths (RHB, 2021):
“How would Christians in the West respond if it suddenly became illegal to meet together for church or study the Scriptures or attend prayer meetings? Would we do it anyway?…This scenario is not exactly hypothetical. Such a day is likely on the horizon in the West, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it comes to evangelism, things are much different. It is possible to meet in secret when it comes to worship and Bible studies, without society knowing it. But evangelism necessarily involves the unbelieving community knowing what we believe, including the offensive parts, since it is the unbelieving persons of society we are called to evangelize.”
As Christians, we have a duty to share the gospel with the lost, whether it is during a pandemic or in the midst of persecution. Even when evangelism is seen as offensive, distasteful, or politically incorrect, we are still called to do it. Again, how we go about doing so changes according to context, but if we remember what evangelism is—sharing the gospel with the lost—we can then figure out ways to do so in an effective manner.
There are many ways to evangelize or share the gospel with the lost. I want to offer a few examples that are especially effective in our world of technology and business:
- The Internet. Social media is notoriously volatile and divisive, but it can still be used as an effective way to witness to the lost. People are on the internet more than ever, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or any number of chat rooms. Striking up conversations for the sake of evangelism is a good way to use the internet, assuming we remember to “speak the truth in love.”
- Gospel tracts. Because it can be difficult to strike up face to face conversations, gospel tracts are especially useful for disseminating the message of Christ all over town. You can leave them in bathrooms, in the credit card slots at the gas station, or even to any passerby outside of stores. You can hand them to people working cash registers or neighbors on your street. You can even put a gospel tract inside of a self-addressed envelope and drop it in the mailbox. They are called “paper missionaries” for a reason.
- Telemarketers. Many are receiving far more spam calls than ever before. But these are people too (assuming they aren’t the automated sort). It can be a bit awkward in the beginning, but why not ask the person on the other end questions about their soul or the things of God?
One time a person from India asked me if it would be wise for him to preach the gospel in the open air in his country. I asked him how the authorities of the place would respond if he did so. He told me it was illegal to proselytize in that particular part of the country, and he would likely be killed for it. I said then don’t do it. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t evangelize. It means that particular type of evangelism wouldn’t be the best idea. There are many ways to go about evangelizing. We can be creative, so long as we keep the gospel front and center. It is important to become evangelism-conscious in our thinking, which means you are constantly looking for new ways to get the gospel to the lost, even in an age of lockdowns, working at home, social distancing, mask mandates, business, earbuds, and technology. Remember God uses evangelism to build His church and advance His kingdom, so trust in God and expect conversions.
Ryan Denton is a minister of the Word and Sacrament of the Vanguard Presbyterian Church.