Tonight, at our Deacons’ meeting, I offered a brief description of my understanding of “evangelism.” I’m posting part of what I said here.
Evangelism is the process of saying and showing the good news of Jesus in such a way that people (1) experience the love, grace and mercy of God in him, from him, and through him; (2) become persuaded that they can trust him; and (3) commit themselves to a lifelong following of Jesus as Lord
Here’s a summary of what I believe Jesus’ good news to be:
God is love. The ultimate power who made and preserves creation is not aloof and distant, disconnected and unconcerned. The center of all things, the heart of reality, is the God whom Jesus called “abba”—stronger and more tender and more attentive than any human parents, even the most loving. God loves us passionately, tenderly, joyfully, freely and unconditionally. And God loves everyone else, and all people, the way God loves us.
God intends to heal creation and to establish peace in each human person and among the human family. It is what Jesus meant by “the kingdom of God,” and it is what the Book of Revelation expresses in the image of “a new heaven and a new earth.” God is restless to see justice established, to have peace flourish, to heal what is broken, and to set free what is bound.
God yearns to forgive our sins, to heal our shame, to free us from our anxiety about death and our fear about life. This is the promise of eternal life, which begins, not at death, but with a conscious connection with Jesus.
God longs to make it possible for us to live in ways that cause us to flourish and grow into our full potential–to become the people we are meant to be, to be fully alive, and to have abundant life. This is what it means to be transformed into the image of Jesus. We become more ourselves by becoming more like him. The guidance of the Spirit and the teachings of scripture are not so much laws we have to keep for fear of punishment as they are God’s loving and wise counsel which we are, at last, able to hear and to follow. They lead us into the kind of life which, simultaneously glorifies God and gives us fullness of life.