This article was written by Sara Patterson. She is from Wylie, Texas and a senior Christian Studies major with minors in English and Communications at Ouachita Baptist University.
The Arkansas Baptist State Convention hosted its annual conference on evangelism and church health (ECON) on Jan. 24-25. Dr. Tony Evans, senior pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, brought impactful and timely lessons to Arkansas Baptists on both days of the conference.
For this day and age, Evans argues that evangelizing to people in a way that reaches them on a personal level and is relevant to the current cultural climate is of utmost importance. With issues like COVID-19, racial injustice, violence and political divides prevalent in society, humanity’s desperate need for the kind of hope that the Gospel offers has become despairingly clear.
“In this new environment, I think the chaos that we have seen forces us to have to touch people at the feeling level. Everything has eroded, and because everything has eroded we have to show the relevance of the Gospel to where they are, the pain they feel and the uncertainty that they’re in,” Evans said.
Christians can run the risk of relegating the Gospel to a hope for later on, because Jesus’ death and resurrection allows us to spend eternity in heaven. Evans urges Christians to remember that the Gospel not only gives certainty for eternity, it also gives assistance for history.
“So many people see the Gospel as not relevant because they limit it to the content. Obviously the content is the foundation, but I want people to see that the Gospel that takes you to heaven also is good for you in history. If I can show that relationship without dumbing down the message then it becomes a perceived more relevant Gospel,” Evans said.
When it comes to sharing the Gospel, Evans encourages Christians to communicate that the Bible is relevant to every unique challenge that a person could face.
“It [the Bible] wasn’t written as a systematic theology, it was written as a biblical theology to certain people in a certain place at a certain time going through certain things. We’ve got to touch people with the relevancy of the insecurity that they are experiencing right now in the world in which we live,” Evans said.
For church leaders seeking to mobilize their members toward effective evangelism within their communities, Evans offers acts of kindness as a good way to start Gospel conversations.
“If you can get your members to intentionally do random acts of kindness and use those acts of kindness as opportunities to share the Gospel, then people are feeling care while being communicated with the Gospel… If they can turn where they live, work and play into their personal mission field, then it becomes a way of life and not necessarily limited to a programmed event,” Evans said.
Whether he is at a conference, with his own congregation or in an everyday conversation, Evans lives with the goal of making the Gospel appear to people as relevant and valuable as it truly is. Both Evans’ life and teaching inspire Christians to live in the same way, bringing heaven to earth as ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
“Jesus said ‘All authority is given to me in heaven and earth,’” Evans said. “So, if we can bring eternity and history and have them meet with the truth of the Gospel then we have shown people that both the Gospel and the church are relevant.”