What is evangelism? What needs to be said in evangelism? Who do you say it to? How long does evangelism take? What Scriptures should you use? How do you know when someone has been “evangelized”? Ask these questions to 10 people, and you will get 11 answers (because there’s always that one guy who gives two answers).
There is a lot of confusion today about how to evangelize and what to say and do in evangelism. I believe the primary problem lies in the word itself. The word proves the truth of the saying, “The translation is the traitor!” Let me show you what I mean.
Evangelism from the Greek
You would never know it in English, but in Greek, the words “gospel” (Gk. euangelion) and “evangelism” (Gk. euangelizomai) have the same root. In fact, the word “evangelism” isn’t really a translation of the Greek word at all, but is instead a transliteration. The translators, rather than translate euangelizomai, just changed the Greek letters into English, and left it:
Sometimes, the English translations use the phrase “preach the gospel” which is better than “evangelism” but tends to make us think that the gospel is spread only by preaching, which as we saw in a previous post, is simply not true.
Let me suggest a new term instead of evangelism.
How about “gospelism” (evangelizing = gospelizing)? This would help show a clearer connection between the gospel itself and the activity of spreading the gospel. This would really help clarify what gospelism is (i.e., what evangelism is) and how to carry it out.
What is Gospelism?
If (as we saw in a previous post) the gospel is more than a set of propositions which must be believed to receive eternal life, then gospelism is way more than just sharing a set of propositions to a person in the hopes that they will believe and receive eternal life.
Put another way, gospelism takes place whenever the gospel is revealed.
And if the gospel contains all sorts of truths about the temporal and eternal benefits that are offered through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, then logically, any time we share (either by word or deed) any of the truths related to the gospel, we are gospelizing.
Since the gospel contains truths about how to live life in light of the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus, “gospelizing” is not only done with words, but with actions as well. Ideally, since the gospel is related to all aspects of life, our entire life – all we say and do – will be gospelizing.
More concretely, since the gospel affects how we interact with others, how we spend our money, how we use our time, etc., we are gospelizing not only when we preach and teach about the gospel, but also when we treat others with kindness, fairness and honesty, when we show forgiveness and grace, when we stand up for the poor, the neglected, and the outcast, and any time we reveal the changes that the gospel has brought about in our own life.
When evangelism becomes gospelism, and we see that the gospel is for all of life, then gospelism is for all of life as well.
Gospelism is not just about eternal life, but about all of life … just like the gospel.
Read these posts to learn more about gospelism:
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