A lady once criticized the evangelism methods used by Dwight L. Moody, the famed 19th century American pastor, to win people to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In response Moody replied, "I agree with you. I don't like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?" Moody's critic answered, "I don't do it." Moody quipped, "In that case, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it."
Like Moody, I would rather be a criticized personal evangelist than a non-evangelistic critic. Sometimes another's critique of our evangelism is biblically warranted. At other times critical comments about our evangelism discourage us without cause. Perhaps the evangelistic enterprise would be served best if before 1) we critique and/or question the evangelistic practices of someone else, and/or 2) our evangelistic practices are critiqued and/or questioned by someone else, we sternly look ourselves in the mirror and say, "I question your evangelism!"
What questions might a believer ask himself in order to assess his evangelistic practices? In "Tell It Often-Tell It Well," Mark McCloskey offers three essential questions every believer should ask himself in order to assess his evangelism and its methods biblically. In addition to McCloskey's three questions (which are enumerated first in the list below), I suggest five additional questions. A believer's response to each of these questions assists him in discerning 1) whether or not someone else's critique of his evangelism proves warranted, and 2) what aspects of his evangelism fall short of the biblical ideal and need adjusting.
Concerning your practice(s) of evangelism:
1. Does the New Testament teach it?
Evangelism finds its origin in the New Testament. A believer who assesses his evangelistic practices should begin by ensuring his evangelism conforms to the evangelistic doctrines, instructions and principles found in the New Testament. McCloskey offers a few follow-up questions that frame the context of this particular question for personal evangelistic assessment. These questions include the following: "Is my approach to evangelism grounded in theological convictions regarding salvation, the Gospel, and evangelism? Is it grounded in the certainties of God's plan to redeem a lost creation, the lostness of man, and responsibilities of our ambassadorship?" Because it serves as the authoritative and foundational source for evangelism, the New Testament must inform the reasons for and way(s) in which a believer evangelizes.
2. Did the first century church demonstrate it?
The first-century church initially received the Great Commission of our Lord, who passed it down to all ages of His church. For this reason a believer interested in assessing his evangelism should consider the philosophy, practice, and pattern of the apostolic church. To assist someone in this dimension of his evangelistic assessment, McCloskey suggests the following supplemental considerations: "Has my philosophy and practice of evangelism been modeled by the first-century church? Have the theological realities that drove the first-century church to proclaim the Gospel with boldness and sensitivity caused me to develop similar patterns for communicating my faith?" Biblical evangelism results from one's evangelistic consistency with the philosophy, practice and pattern of the early church.
A personal evangelist faces temptations to adopt worldly, even sinful, standards in order to gain a hearing and become relevant. Nevertheless, he must be convinced that an evangelistic lifestyle incorporates a lifestyle of biblical holiness. While not every evangelistic approach practiced today can be found in Scripture, an evangelistic practice consistent with Scripture conforms to its standards of holiness, as the first-century church practiced it.
3. Does it work?
While a believer should evangelize with all excellence and purge ineffective practices, McCloskey has something else in mind here. He frames the intended meaning of this assessment question by offering another: "Does my philosophy and practice of evangelism make me effective in getting the Gospel out to as many as possible, as soon as possible and as clearly as possible?" In other words, does what you believe about evangelism encourage or hinder your practice of it? No matter how "biblical" someone perceives his beliefs to be, any belief that deters him from evangelizing inevitably will lead him to deter others from evangelizing.
SOURCE: Matt Queen