Evangelism is a Team Thing
I’m a huge sports fan! The Florida Gators and New York Yankees are my two favorite teams. Now you’re probably not a Gators or Yankees fan, and you might not even like sports, but there’s an important principle from the sporting world that applies to us as Christians.
Teamwork is critical in both team sports and even individual sports. A common thread in award acceptance speeches given by champions of individual sports is the idea that the team helped achieve victory. In athletics it takes many people working together in order to accomplish the goal.
As in the sporting arena, so it goes in the arena of evangelism. It is neither exclusively a “God thing,” nor exclusively a “me thing.” Rather, evangelism is a “team thing.”
Jesus said to his disciples at the beginning of his earthly ministry, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) And just before ascending to heaven at the end of His earthly ministry He stated, “Go and make disciples of all nations…and I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:18, 20).
One of the mysteries of the gospel is that while God is all-powerful and is the author of salvation, He chooses to use people like you and me to bring other people to Himself. For we, the Church, are integral to His redemptive plan. In fact, the Church is God’s redemptive vessel on earth. There is no plan B! So the Lord commands us to be actively involved in His redemptive work.
The implication of this reality is that we can neither shirk our personal responsibility to witness nor feel overwhelmed that we have to do the work of evangelism alone. Because God, in His grace, is sufficient to enable you and I to do our part in the evangelistic endeavor! The Apostle Paul wrote “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant…” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
And he added in 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (including the work of evangelism).
Not only are we partnering with God in the Great Commission, we as believers are also co-laboring together in God’s field. One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase.
As children of God, we are all part of the same team, the Church. And as we work together in fulfilling the Great Commission, we can be confident the Lord is bringing His game plan of redemption to fruition. For Jesus said, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Additionally, in 1 Corinthians 12:12-21, Paul wrote that all believers are part of the body of Christ. That body is diverse and yet has a unity of purpose. You and I are all members of the same body, yet represent different parts. And we all have an important part to play in the function of the body.
You may be a prayer warrior. Perhaps you like and have the ability to talk to people. Maybe you have the gift of hospitality or enjoy demonstrating God’s love in tangible ways. How we sow and water in the evangelistic endeavor is different. But the important thing is we do sow and water, trusting God for the increase. And as we pray, serve others, and proclaim the gospel, God can and does use our diverse abilities and efforts, even when we may be oblivious to the end of our effort. For we, individually and collectively, as God’s people, walk by faith. For the Lord, in His glorious way, pools our efforts together in order to accomplish His purposes.
While a missionary in New York City, I had occasion to witness to orthodox Jewish men. A few years later, while serving as the local outreach pastor of my home church in Johnson City, TN, I received a call from a friend and former missionary associate from Washington, DC named Larry. He told me of a newly saved orthodox Jewish man he met while visiting New York City. Larry told me the man said to say “hello” to me and to remind me I had witnessed to him while I served in the Big Apple. When he told me the man’s name, I didn’t recognize it. I had no idea who he was talking with. It’s interesting because I didn’t have a personal ministry to many orthodox men and felt I should have remembered the man’s name.
I tell that story to illustrate that my witness, even though I don’t remember the person, was just one witness in the process. There would have been others who continued ministry to this gentleman along his journey of faith.
I praise God that he used me in the process of this man’s journey. It reminds me of the beautiful aspect of being one small part of God’s grand team, the Church. No matter our role, we all get to rejoice in the victory, God’s victory, as He ushers people into His Kingdom.
Think about your journey or that of someone you know who has come to faith in Jesus. In my journey to faith, the Lord brought several influential witnesses across my path. Think about the team of servants God brought across your path or that someone else whose journey included touch points with several believers along the way.
Additionally, research indicates that the average person will hear the gospel message several times before making a decision to trust in Christ. In my life, I categorically rejected the gospel message on multiple occasions over a period of several years. Yet God brought me to himself in 1987 through the witness of many people and the work of the Holy Spirit.
So press on and be faithful in doing your part on the team— praying and proclaiming the gospel boldly in word and deed—knowing that together we share the victory as the Lord builds HIs Church!
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).