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WAYS: How do you define “evangelism”?


September-October 2015

Several weeks prior to finishing each issue of Interpreter, we send a question to all readers for whom we have email addresses, asking them to respond with a short answer of 50-75 words. We hope you will join the conversation in the comments section below..

We asked...

How do you define evangelism?

For this issue, you said...

Evangelism is the outward manifestation of one's inner devotion to the current and future reign of God. Evangelism must be present in all activities, choices, words and witness. It is what the world sees of one’s faith. When the right opportunity presents itself, one may offer the basis of this joy – the gospel of Jesus Christ. This definition applies both to individuals and to congregations.
—Thomas E. Board, Trinity UMC, Wilmette, Illinois

I define evangelism as quoted from the Bible in1 Corinthians 15:1-4. To me, that Scripture says it all. Evangelism is going forth in the world with the good news of Jesus Christ and spreading his love to the ends of the earth.
—The Rev. Jill Bunker, Trinity Charge (Bethel, Clay City, Harmony), Clay City, Illinois

Always being ready to respond to opportunities to share the gospel to those desiring to find a better way in their lives. That means being prepared by equipping ourselves with knowledge of Scripture and being able to respond to the hard questions that sincere seekers will ask.
—Randy Coller, Holt UMC, Pleasant Lake, Michigan

Evangelism is showing people the power of God's love by loving them like Christ under the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is NOT telling them to become holy, and it is NOT proclaiming their shortcomings and sin. If we could become holy without grace, Christ's suffering would not have been necessary.
—Ken Franklin, Vicksburg (Michigan) UMC

We are engaged in evangelism whenever we communicate God love to those who do not currently call on God and invite them to reach out to God for healing, wholeness and honest relationship. While preaching of the sinner's need for forgiveness, repentance and conscious acceptance of Christ is one mode, it is no more legitimate than simply sharing the story of what Christ has done in one’s life or inviting a neighbor to attend church.
—Richard J. Hatton
, Wellington, Ohio

Teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in an effort to persuade others to accept him as Lord and Savior.
—Lloyd M. Hulit, Calvary UMC, Normal, Illinois

Sharing and practicing a Christian life.
—Roberta Koerner, Faith UMC, Champaign, Illinois

Evangelism is good news from top to bottom and beginning to end. It begins with our acceptance of the good news of God's love, continues in the way we live out that love in all our relationships and ends in others’ recognition that this is indeed good news for them also. It is not about escaping God's wrath, but responding to God's grace.
—The Rev. James E. Magaw Sr., Gay Street UMC, Mount Vernon, Ohio

Evangelism = living so Christ-like that others will want what I have.
—Sandy Mast, White Cloud (Michigan) UMC

Evangelism is showing Christ's love to all people so that they, too, desire to experience, know and share this love with a community of believers and with all others.
—Jim Bielefeldt, Clinton (New Jersey) UMC

Evangelism is telling your story. When you tell others about your story, you share how you came to know God, your relationship with God, what God has done for you and what God can do for others. It's not a scary thing, just talking about your experience with God.
—Debra Bostron, Saint James UMC (West Friendship), Sykesville, Maryland

While evangelism means “spreading the word.” it has frequently promoted Christianity at the cost of demeaning other religions, especially in underdeveloped countries. I am not proud of this part of our history. Today evangelism often connects with fundamentalism, which, once again, diminishes the word. We need a word that speaks more to our living the Christian life of service, generosity, justice and faith, and less to our preaching about it.
—Elizabeth Mount, Forest Home Chapel UMC, Ithaca, New York

Reaching others for and through Jesus Christ. Whether through our daily interactions with people, worship opportunities or stepping out boldly in the mission field, it is our intention – our heart – that creates evangelism.
—Cindy Muder, First UMC, New Hartford, New Yor

A response to the call of God to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The good news is spread through preaching and/or personal witness. The power to proclaim the message with zeal and boldness comes from God [and] the Holy Spirit. The purpose of evangelism is to give everyone the opportunity to hear the message of the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ and his life, death and Resurrection.
—The Rev. LaReesa Smith-Horn, Christ UMC, Baltimore

 I believe evangelism is a full-time job. Sure, there are those individuals who are comfortable going door to door. However, people are watching us Christians in everything we do, and the impression we leave tends to help the “unchurched” to form lifelong decisions regarding our viability as followers of Jesus. We become evangelists as soon as we leave the sanctuary on Sunday morning.
—Kenneth Sprout, Columbia (Pennsylvania) UMC

Evangelism is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. A winsome life and a verbal witness are both essential, just as both wings on an airplane are essential. The good news is that God loves us; while we are sinful and in need of salvation, Jesus died to save us; and salvation is a gift that we can receive by faith. Being Christ's ambassadors is both our sacred responsibility and great privilege!
—Ken Wilson, Harmony-Zelienople United Methodist Church, Zelienople, Pennsylvania

Evangelism is sharing the love of God and Jesus Christ through our behaviors – what we say and do. A common phrase used today is “be the hands and feet of God and Jesus.” The manner in which a group or individual does this makes a huge difference in how or if the message is received. Genuine hospitality without being “over the top” is key. Agreeing to disagree is also important.
—Ruth A. Bowen, Certified Lay Servant, First UMC, Denton, Texas

Evangelism is fulfilling Jesus command to go and make disciples of the entire world, faithfully teaching what Jesus taught. It means living, breathing and exemplifying Christ's love, both inside and beyond the church walls, in everything the believer does such that the world sees them and wants what they have.
—The Rev. Ted Fine, Delhi (Louisiana) UMC

Evangelism: Showing the heart of Jesus through our actions and words of life. Showing the life of Christ in our daily routines so that others may also share in the love and joy that is in our lives, knowing and serving Jesus.
—Loren Hahn, Lytton Springs (Texas) UMC

I believe evangelism is to live as Christ in my daily contacts with everyone I see and share, if possible, how living in Christ – using my talents and Christ's examples – gives me peace, joy, hope and love for Christ's in his sacrifice for my sins.
—Charlotte I. Hickman, Calvary UMC, Bushnell, Nebraska

Building authentic relationships for the sake of being in relationship. Jesus interacted with all sorts of people in very organic and meaningful ways. He used real-world relationships as a launch platform to speak into people's lives. He used real-world examples to illustrate kingdom principles. Most of all, he lived a holy life that drew people to him.
—The Rev. Kenny Lee, First UMC, Berryville, Arkansas

Evangelism means sharing with others stories of what God has done in your life. Personal stories, not quoting Scripture, touches people where they live. Evangelism is also a way of life. People learn about God and God’s love by the actions of God’s people. When we do as Jesus teaches us to do in Matthew 25, we are living evangelism.
—Cathy Poe, Kirkwood (Missouri) UMC

Invite! Evangelism is a contact process. Be excited about what your church is doing, especially the areas in which you share and participate. Evangelism is sharing the Word with your friends and talking about what a group can do so much better than only one can. Spread the love of Christ, talk to friends and neighbors, show kindness to the people you encounter in your everyday activities and remember we are all children of God.
—Joy Stone, First UMC, Mount Vernon, Texas

Evangelism means to announce good news; but what news, and why is it good? Christians offer everything from “we can save you from hell” to “God hates the same people you do.” In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus tells his followers, “Go and make disciples.” A promise follows this command, “I am with you always.” That is the good news. Jesus is still around. He will keep us company to the end.
—Nancy Veglahn, First UMC, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I like the definition Martha Grace Reese uses in the book Unbinding the Gospel: “anything you do to help another person move closer to a relationship with God, or into Christian community.” True evangelism, at some point, must include words. The good news must be spoken. Setting a good example is fine, but that is never enough. As Christians, we are called to engage with other believers and those not in a relationship with Christ.
—Ken Willard, Morning Star UMC, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri

Evangelism is getting the word out about how your church is making a difference in the lives of those inside and outside the walls – through personal invitation and even your website presence. We hope this work brings new people inside to grow in relationship with Christ in community with others.
Steven Adair, Glendale UMC, Nashville, Tennessee

Evangelism is what you do to get people in the door for the first time. Everyone who has ever fished knows that you use different bait for different fish. We are fishers of people. We have to use different activities and messages to catch different people. Evangelism is fishing for people.
The Rev. M. Kent Burel, former pastor of Union Chapel UMC, Monroe, Georgia

How do I define evangelism? Evangelism is any ministry where our church reaches out to our entire community. We are long past the days when all a church had to do was open its doors and people come. If we want to engage in evangelism, we have to go to the people off our church campus. Carrying Christ's love to others is our most important evangelistic endeavor any of us can undertake.
—Michael W. Carroll, Stephen Minister, First UMC, Clarkesville, Georgia

It begins with establishing a trustful intersection with another person, followed by careful listening to learn the other person's questions and desires. Acknowledge in words those questions or desires. When the other person is listening to you, share a true personal story about your encounter with one or more of those questions or desires. Close with how your belief and faith played the critical role in learning the answer or in dealing with the desire.
—Don Click, Orange UMC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

How do I define “evangelism”? Sharing those words that someone shared with you that brought Christ into your heart. Whether through a sermon or over a cup of coffee or written words; whether with a friend, a family member or a complete stranger, sharing that gift of the eternal life offered to us by God's grace and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is known as the Great Commission and is extremely simple.
—Nancy C. Condry, First UMC, Katy, Texas

Evangelism is being conscientiously Jesus with skin on wherever the church may be. Reaching outside, inside, beyond, through and to the people who are and might be part of the church of today and tomorrow.
—Jorja Davis, Mount Zion UMC, Marietta, Georgia

Evangelism: To take something you are passionate about and tell others about it in hopes of also exciting them. Making it known what you are about, what you believe in, hoping others will join you in support and enthusiasm. Speaking from the heart about what you love, hoping others will learn to love the same thing. All of this applies to telling others about the saving grace of Christ.
Kellie Frissell, Bethel UMC, Stockbridge, Georgia

Evangelism is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us by prayer, word and deed. God gives us gifts, often talents, and we are called to use these gifts for God's glory.  As we share our blessings with others, we reflect Jesus’ love by giving just because we can, without thought of repayment. What we receive is immeasurable – the joy of passing along his good news!
—Jane Johnson, Trinity UMC, Greenville, South Carolina

We use the following definition at our church for evangelism: Help people relate to God so they can begin a relationship to Christ. Help new Christians begin a process of ongoing discipleship and spiritual formation.
—Sharon Roth, Englewood UMC, Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Evangelism is leading people in love into a relationship with Christ and ourselves. It is about building a relationship with someone in order for them to see Christ in us. It is not a program or system but a lifestyle. However, it all hinges on love. In order to lead a person, you have to love the person.
—The Rev. Sean Stanfield, Connect and Go, Good Shepherd UMC, Hendersonville, Tennessee

Psalm 23:5b says, “My cup overflows.” We are the cup! When we stay close to the fount of Christ, the powerful, peaceful, prevenient presence of God abundantly outpours. Just responding to Jesus’ tenacious presence allows it to love-flow to our neighbor, even through people like me (a pastor who sometimes would rather define than live evangelism). In a time when some think that evangelism is neither good nor news, this is both!
—The Rev. Jason Villegas, First UMC, Morehead City, North Carolina

Evangelism to me is high energy, loud, passionate. When my father was a child, evangelism was an over-the-top, strict way of controlling him and his two brothers. He went to church seven days a week. Frequently, a traveling evangelist would stay with his family. Not a churchgoer as an adult, my father made all four us attend Sunday school and youth group. Now in my 60s, I recognize that evangelism is just a different style of preaching.
—Leslie Murray, Lafayette (California) UMC

Evangelism: Jumping into the mire of the lonely, lost, haughty, healthy and loved. We spread the gospel from wherever we are. Publicly, privately, prayerfully, we bring the gospel message to people through our actions, attitudes and abilities. We live so close to Jesus that others find themselves in his company when we are with them.
Karen Scanlon, St. Mark's UMC, San Diego

Jesus often taught by example using everyday situations or events to get across his message. I tend to shy away from trying to force-feed my views on others. I would rather do my best to be an example of what Jesus taught. I am a firm believer in “actions speak louder than words.” If all of us concentrated on being the “hands and feet” of Jesus, we would inspire more people to want to be like us.
—Terry Waggle

To me, evangelism is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. First, it is witnessing to the lost about the good news of salvation through Jesus’ finished work on the cross! The way we live our everyday lives – reaching, teaching, helping others in whatever way we can and interacting with others in a loving way.
Deb McCammon

Evangelism is living a life of courage, enabling Christian loving-kindness toward all people. That loving-kindness enables people to talk about God. For example, I recently gave a man stranded with a flat tire a lift to get the flat repaired. That person thanked me and let me suggest to him that God would give him an opportunity to pay it forward.
—Bill Wilkin, Dallas

Evangelism is intentionally serving the good news to persons in poverty through the transforming love of Jesus Christ and the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit. The sharing of the good news is both proclamational and incarnational.
—John Zimmerman, Friedens, Pennsylvania