A Manifesto For Healthy Evangelism

J. Mack Stiles has just written a helpful little book called “Marks of the Messenger.” In contrast to most books on evangelism that are generally technique oriented, Stiles focusses more on the “messenger” than the “message.” Towards the end of the book, he gives “A Manifesto for Healthy Evangelism” which offers a good summary of the book.

– Healthy evangelism is rooted in our own commitment of faith in Christ rather than in any pragmatic method of evangelism. So, first, we become people of faith by putting our complete trust and faith in Jesus. Since we trust with our whole lives that the gospel is true, we desire to share the gospel out of faithfulness, not technique.
– We become students of the gospel. We know it through and through. We resist the natural tendency to shape the gospel to our personal tastes and the tastes of the culture by adding to or subtracting from the message.
– The healthy evangelist guards the gospel. Because we know that the gospel can be lost, we never assume the gospel but emphasize the gospel in our fellowships and in Christian leadership.
– The first application of our understanding of the gospel is not necessarily to share our faith, but to live a gospel-centered life. So we sit at the foot of the cross when there are differences with other brothers and sisters. We remember our own sin and failings when we discipline our children. We apply principles of grace in our marriage and with our coworkers. We especially think through how gospel themes bear on our presentations of the gospel to make sure the message we bear looks like the message we share.
– Since many things mimic true Christian conversion, we gain a clear biblical understanding of conversion. The healthy evangelist knows that the hearer must understand the message of the gospel before conversion can happen. True conversion, when it does happen, is marked by a radically changed life. We understand that we’re only instruments in the hands of God, that God is the one who generates conversion.
– The healthy evangelist seeks boldness in witness and work to slay the “fear of man,” one of the great obstacles to sharing faith.
– Since love is the mark of a Christian, we endeavor to gain a biblical view of love, while rejecting corrosive, worldly views of love.
– The healthy evangelist knows, in light of the commands of Jesus in John 13 and John 17, that biblical love, practically applied in the church, is the greatest image of the gospel we offer the world.
– As we speak the gospel to those who don’t know the gospel, we cycle through three foundational challenges in our minds: Do I know the gospel? Do I live the gospel? Do I speak the gospel?

Taken pages 112-113 of J. Mack Stiles’ book Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel

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