Emphasis on Evangelism

Following Jesus’ Example
June 17, 2019

BURLESON, TEX. – On several occasions I have been asked, “Why does the Southwestern Union keep such an emphasis on evangelism?” Perhaps the easiest and simplest answer would be that we emphasize evangelism because Jesus put a big emphasis on evangelism. He linked His second coming to the preaching of the gospel in Matthew 24.

When we talk about evangelism, we talk about public evangelism and personal evangelism. When we look at the history of our church, we find that public evangelism has played a major role in the growth of our Church, both in the United States and around the world. In looking at the Southwestern Union, we can see that the five conferences within our territory are focused and very much committed to public evangelism.

There are some church members and some pastors, as well, who believe that public evangelism doesn’t work anymore, and thus, have given up on public evangelism. Through the years, I have heard some say, “People in my city don’t respond to the gospel.”

But I am still convinced that the gospel still has power to change lives and transform people! In most cases, what people are not interested in is actually the methodology that we are using to present the gospel. The gospel doesn’t change. In 2019 the gospel is the same as it was 2,000 years ago when Jesus walked this earth preaching it. However, the methodology that we use to preach the gospel needs to change and needs to be adopted to the needs of the culture and the society in which we live. Because of that, we are promoting creative evangelism—methods that go beyond the traditional public evangelism. The idea is to meet the needs that people have in our communities and to win their confidence and then we can make the transition to present Jesus and the biblical doctrine. This was Jesus’ method that we know from Ellen G. White’s book, The Ministry of Healing, which states that “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”

Notice that Jesus also said in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations….” That means that as effective as public evangelism can be in our communities, you cannot substitute it for personal evangelism, telling others what Jesus has done for you, the one-to-one contact. I have found that when we combine personal evangelism with public evangelism, there are outstanding results. When I preach and end a sermon with a call for people to accept Jesus through baptism, those who come forward are usually those who are already attending small groups with relatives, friends, neighbors or coworkers. Those who are baptized tend to remain in the church because they have a support group in those small groups.

And so the answer to why we emphasize evangelism is simple: We want to do His work His way!

By Eduardo Canales, Vice President for Evangelism