Everyone seems to be radiating at high frequencies these days.
All of the time.
It is exhausting.
Mania is the new monotone.
Could this be an opportunity for a renewed emphasis on evangelism?
"Mania" derives from a Greek word meaning “inclined to madness.” Synonyms include “anxious, worried, unhinged, unbalanced and feverish.” Who doesn’t feel the pull of the manic tide in this age of cultural wars, polarizing politics, pandemic hangover, inflation, global intrigue, hot and cold wars and spiraling energy prices these days? All of these manic things are kept at a frenzied pitch by people who have discovered there is good money in mania. Really good money.
We can view mania as a temptation to “go monastic” as Christian people and retreat from the culture or we can view it as an opportunity for evangelism. It is not lost on me that the New Testament church opted for the latter in the midst of their own mania. We should as well.
How is this for an evangelistic sales pitch?
You can trade your mania for inner peace, genuine community and a clear sense of purpose through Jesus Christ.
Paul writes II Timothy from prison where he is incarcerated for no other reason than for doing God’s work and getting on Rome’s last nerve. Paul’s audience boldly shared their faith in Christ but it was taking a toll. Persecution was rampant. Martyrs were not uncommon. Revival has always come at a high price. Paul’s audience were in need of some strong encouragement to keep sharing the good news of Jesus Christ by their spiritual mentor. Paul knew that if the impetus for evangelism was lost, so too would be the spread of the Christian movement across the Roman Empire.
This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.
-II Timothy 1:6-8 (NLT)
V. 6 Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you. Churches are plateaued and dying today because the evangelistic fires that founded and sustained them are smoldering. If you are looking for a recipe for a thriving church, I would offer “two parts evangelism and one part discipleship.” Were I to offer a scientific formula for Christian vitality, it would be E2D. In the same sense that water consists of H2O; trying to grow a church without evangelism is like trying to make water without hydrogen; hydrogen is 2/3 of the recipe. It doesn’t matter how much oxygen you have, you still need twice as much hydrogen! It doesn’t matter how much discipleship you have or how good your discipleship is; you still need lots of evangelism. Evangelism is the reproductive system of the body of Christ and without a clear focus upon it and strategy and excitement around it, every existing church is in a death cycle.
V. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity. I think most churches are reasonably solid on the one part teaching side and “smoldering at best” on the two parts evangelism side. To fuel our evangelistic mission, God has given us three spiritual weapons:
Three Spiritual Weapons
1. Power is the supernatural ability to live into what God asks of us. If God called us to be witnesses in the Great Commission, he empowered us to be witnesses at Pentecost. God won’t ask us to do what God has not empowered us to do!
2. Love is the supernatural disposition God gives his children toward the world. I John 4:20 says if we say we love God but hate people we are liars and we deceive ourselves. A failure to share faith is not a failure of nerves but a failure to love.
3. Self-discipline is a mind under control. The KJV translates this Greek concept, “A sound mind” rather than self-discipline. A sound mind would refer to seeing things God’s way and not the world’s way. Evangelism is not a feeling, it is a discipline.
V. 8 Never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord and give me the strength to suffer for the proclamation of the good news. Being a witness for Christ may cost you something but it won’t cost you much. Unlike Paul’s audience, none of us are likely to give our lives for the faith. Sure, we may endure rudeness or a snarky response on social media but that isn’t persecution. If you can unsubscribe, unfriend or block someone, it isn’t persecution. We all want to be popular but hurt feelings are not persecution. Every time I get feeling sorry for myself about how some may not appreciate my intentional witness for Christ, God simply says, “Stop it! You are embarrassing yourself. Do you have any idea the price my followers have paid for their faith over the centuries?” Now get out there and share some good news! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is 100% good news! We must remember this each and every day. No one wants to share bad news. Everyone wants to share good news. We are each called by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to our faith. If we are serious believers, we must be committed to the task of evangelism.
If your primary concern about faith sharing is that you may do more “harm than good,” I want to challenge that notion. I realize that most of us do not want to be “that guy;” the emotionally unaware and insufferable person who seemingly employs a “scorched earth” evangelism policy. I have met a handful of these people but to be frank, for every one of them I have encountered, I have met a thousand of perfectly well-mannered and amiable Christians who never share their faith at all. Furthermore, I have seen God bless an overzealous, stumbling or awkward witness in my own life but I have never seen God work through a witness I failed to offer. Not once. People don’t come to Jesus through osmosis. The popular notion that we should “live the Gospel and only share words if necessary” runs counter to everything I see in the New Testament. A life of Christian integrity offers great credibility to our Christian witness but it does not negate the need for evangelism.
It is time to recover evangelism. The mania that encapsulates us provides the perfect opportunity to share our faith in Christ and witness to the peace, power and purpose Jesus offers. We need to preach and teach evangelism. We need to encourage and celebrate evangelism and realize the church has no viable future without it. We need to write about evangelism; blog about it, post about it and Tweet about it. We need to share the good news under the influence of the Holy Spirit!
For me, it comes down to three simple questions: 1) Do you believe the Gospel is good news? 2) Do you love Jesus enough to share him with people? 3) Do you love people enough to share Jesus with them?”
- Rev. Shane L. Bishop has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997. His new book “That’s Good News!” will be released by Invite Press in February of 2023.