3 Min Read

As you read this, your next-door neighbor is repairing his water heater. It isn’t a difficult fix, but he’s going to discover that he’s missing the hex wrench that he needs to complete the job. So, in about fifteen minutes, you’re going to get a knock on your door from your neighbor looking for the necessary tool—a tool you’re happy to loan him. You’ll exchange greetings and ask him how he’s doing. Because you’ve been neighbors for a while, he’s going to pause, skip the normal “Doing just fine,” and give you an honest answer. He’s going to tell you he’s been feeling down—probably not depression, but just a malaise: a discouragement about life, his job, and what his forties are going to look like. It’s going to be a window for you to share the gospel. This is going to occur in fifteen minutes. What will you do during this divinely appointed gospel opportunity brought on by a broken water heater and a missing hex wrench?

For some, this sounds intimidating: “What if I say the wrong thing?” “What if I can’t come up with one Bible verse from memory?” “What if I take a wrong turn on the Romans road? How did that bridge analogy go?” “I’m pretty sure I remember some book I read about evangelism. Where is that book on my shelf?” “Fifteen minutes isn’t a long time. Maybe I’ll do a quick web search on how to share the gospel and see what I can remember until I hear that knock on the door.” These are some of the things you might be thinking about. And these aren’t bad things to remember—memorized Bible verses, outlines, key points from books on evangelism, or quick overviews on sharing your faith. But this isn’t all there is to know about evangelism, and, honestly, focusing solely on memorized content or outlines is a reductionistic approach to sharing your faith. These are a few tools in your evangelistic toolbox, but they aren’t all the tools. So, how do you expand your evangelistic repertoire?

1. First, get clear about the gospel.

The gospel is not one’s response to the gospel. In other words, the gospel is not, “If you repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus Christ, you will be saved.” This is the response to the gospel. The gospel is the good news of what God has done through Jesus’ humbling incarnation, meritorious life, atoning death, glorious resurrection, and triumphant ascension to save sinners by grace (alone) and through faith (alone). You could reduce this gospel down to a statement as simple as “God saves sinners,” as J.I. Packer famously wrote. You could summarize this statement with a Bible verse like Romans 1:1–6, or you could expand this statement into a long conversation. The key is that you are clear on what the gospel is and can expand or summarize it as the situation demands. This isn’t learning a mini-outline or script; it is being clear about what God has accomplished in redemption.

2. Second, don’t miss the communal nature of evangelism.

Jesus said that the world would know we are Christians by how we love one another (John 13:35). There is an evangelistic aspect to Christian community. If you are a part of a Christian family, it begins there. Everyday evangelism with your hex-wrench-missing neighbor could include not only sharing the gospel with him but sharing a meal as well. This also includes your Christian friends. When is the next time you and your Christian friends will be spending time together? Whenever that is, invite your neighbor. He’ll not only hear the gospel from you, he’ll also see how the gospel has affected your friendships, and he’ll potentially (hopefully) hear the gospel from one of your friends. And there is a third community that needs its own emphasis: the community of the church.

3. Third, invite non-Christians to church.

This is one of the most evangelistic things you could do. God has mandated weekly calls to worship in corporate Lord’s Day worship. The biblical expectation is that there will be non-Christians in Christian worship (1 Cor. 14:23–25). The preaching of God’s Word is specially ordained by God for the conversion of sinners and the building up of believers (Westminster Shorter Catechism, 89). If you’d like to see your neighbor saved, certainly share the gospel with him and invite him into your Christian family and friendships, but especially invite him to sit under the preaching of God’s Word in the local church.

This isn’t all there is to say about evangelism. But evangelism isn’t a complex algorithm that needs prescribed circumstances or just the right words said just the right way at just the right moment. It can be as simple as being clear about the gospel, introducing non-Christians to Christian families and friends, and inviting non-Christians to worship with God’s people. Because salvation is a monergistic work of God, and because every individual’s conversion is predestined by God, we can pursue faithfulness without anxiety, evangelizing our neighbors who eventually hear the gospel and experience new birth all because they had a broken water heater, a missing wrench, and a Christian neighbor who loved them.