Coordinator of Outreach and Evangelism, CGO Staff
Summer break has always provided a high level of anticipation and excitement for me. As a child, I would dream of hot summer days running around playing sports and swimming in our pond. But my dreams of summer were quickly interrupted the year my mom discovered Vacation Stations. It's a catchy name, but don't be fooled; there's nothing vacation about these stations. They were intended to help primary students review academics all summer long. (It is also apparent that if you click on the 4.7-star reviews, none of those reviews are by the actual consumer of the product, but by their parents. But I digress.)
In our house, we had a rule. No swimming or playing sports until your Vacation Station is done for the day. When friends came over and wanted to play, I was supposed to respond with, "I can't I have to do my Vacation Station first." And that is just it. It was a chore, and we had to complete it before getting on with enjoying our summer break.
Unfortunately, it is too easy to view evangelism this way. God commands it, so we have to do it. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you can probably recall thoughts of duty and obligation attached to sharing the Gospel. I don't want to take away from evangelism as a duty or discipline for every believer, but could I suggest a change in how we view evangelism?
When it comes to work and even ministry, I tend to arrange all the daily tasks in a mental list. My list causes me to think in terms of what I have to do next. Somewhere along the way, a few people in my life encouraged me to say, "I don't have to do __________. I get to!" When it comes to evangelism, this isn't just a semantic exercise. Unlike my Vacation Station that was robbing me of the joys of summer, evangelism, when done with the correct motivation, increases our joy! Here are two compelling reasons we should view evangelism as a privilege in which we get to participate.
1. The Sacrifice Christ Endured to Save Me
We stop viewing things as chores or work responsibilities when we love who is assigning us work. When you realize your boss speaks highly of you to others or goes to bat for you, it changes how you work for him. Yes, God has called us to specific "tasks" as Christians, but when we love the person that has called us to these responsibilities, they become our means of expressing gratitude. How do you increase evangelism in the life of a believer? The most enduring way is to increase their love for God.
Christ's sacrifice on the cross is the apex of the love of God expressed to us. It is also the crux of the Gospel message. The better we understand the cross, the further we sink into the depth of God's love. Moreover, the better we understand the cross and unravel God's wondrous love, the better we communicate the Gospel. If we would just slow down and sit still at the foot of the cross, evangelism would start to become a natural byproduct of our adoration of Jesus Christ.
2. The Meaningful Task Christ has Given Me
Evangelism is not like a Vacation Station you throw in the bonfire at the end of the summer. Evangelism is the glorious privilege that God—the Creator—has entrusted us—his creation—to tell others how they too can experience a full relationship with their rightful Father through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Now that's an honor! We were creatures rebelling against God that he mercifully saved beyond anyone's comprehension, but then He turns over the reins to his newly saved children to spread the Word of this life-giving hope. That's a position that none of us deserve. If we can begin to shape our thoughts about evangelism around this truth, it would change our begrudging obedience to joyful gospel-explosion.
Jonathan Edwards, at the age of nineteen, began writing down resolutions for his life. They are worth a read and have challenged me many times over. Here is one that always convicts me, "Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life."  That is a resolution that refreshes every moment and would challenge the way any of us live out every day. But it also is a resolution that we all would break and break often. What is a resolution you can make regarding evangelism this summer? It could be as simple as:
Resolved, to share the Gospel with one person before the end of the summer.
Hopefully, most of us can make a resolution with a much higher commitment than that, but if you have never shared the Gospel with anyone, that is an excellent place to start. Commit to being a part of God's mission to use people like you and me to speak of Jesus.
Throughout the summer, the CGO will be posting blogs from mission interns, City Team leaders, church interns, and students involved in other summer ministries. But evangelism is not just the goal of students submerged in summer ministry; we all get to participate in it! No matter where you are or what you are doing this summer, I want to encourage you to be a part of speaking the good news of Jesus to whomever you get to meet. Then, as God works through your life, would you consider writing a blog post of your own? The CGO would love to post a host of stories of how God is using our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to share the Gospel. You can submit your blog post at www.bjucgo.com/submissions.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.