Below is the outline of a campus ministry resource I’ve been working on for Go Conference 2016.
One of the reasons for this particular resource is the need to move people beyond the commonplace idea that evangelism means standing and preaching. In what follows I’m therefore using evangelism as an umbrella term (various activities that promote life in Christ) as distinct from evangelist (a specific spiritual gift for speaking the good news into others’ lives). Evangelism (or witness, or gospelling) is therefore something for the whole Christian community, in which each has a distinct part to play.
The idea of using Bible characters to teach about evangelism is pretty new to me, although I’ve taken a similar approach previously with Old Testament ethics. It’s a tangible approach which works well here. It also means that, in a context where the holy man is often the centre of attention (the mchungaji/nabii/apostle), we can encourage every member of the fellowship to explore their spiritual gifting and play their part.
Example: The believing community in Acts 4:23-31
As they begin to experience intense opposition, the people of Jesus call on God to give them power to be faithful. They see that opposition to Jesus is to be expected, but they know Jesus is greater. Their great desire is for the name of Jesus to be honoured. In answer to their prayer, the Holy Spirit gives them new boldness for passing on the good news.
The gift of prayer has the motto, ‘Bring boldness and healing!’ It calls for God’s presence and involvement in every situation so that the good news will spread.
Example: Andrew and Philip in John 1:35-42, 43-46
Andrew and Philip begin with the people closest to them. After he begins following Jesus, Andrew immediately visits his brother Peter. And when Philip joins them, he goes to find his friend Nathanael.
The gift of ‘inclusion’ has the motto, ‘Come and see!’ It’s about bringing existing friends into environments where they can encounter Jesus.
Example: The blind beggar in John 9
This man’s experience is dominated by what God has done from him. The story he tells and the report he gives is all about the work of God in his life.
The gift of testimony has the motto, ‘Now I can see!’ It’s about using personal experience with Jesus to give glory to God.
Example: The Samaritan woman in John 4:4-30
Even though she was an outcast, this woman invites the whole town to come and meet Jesus, and they responded to her. Her excitement is contagious. These people are not her friends, but she brings them along anyway.
The gift of ‘invitation’ has the motto, ‘Did you hear?’ It empowers someone to make new connections and include others for the sake of Jesus.
Example: Philip in Acts 8:26-40
Evangelism is not just God’s call to the whole Christian community; it is also a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit gives to some people in particular. Philip has this gift, and others call him ‘the Evangelist’ (Acts 21:8). He is passionate about the message of Jesus and he passes it on naturally – he needs no reminder! He often finds himself in the right place at the right time, with someone who is already prepared to receive the good news.
The gift of ‘evangelist’ has the motto, ‘Do you understand?’ It empowers someone to speak the good news in any environment.
Example: Lydia in Acts 16:12-15
Lydia is a businesswoman who begins following Jesus when she meets Luke’s missionary team in Philippi. She is immediately ready to open her home to those who have brought new life.
The gift of hospitality has the motto, ‘Come and stay!’ It involves sharing your presence or space in order for others to share in the good news of Jesus.
Example: Barnabas and others in Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37
The believing community eat together, pray together, and spend time together. Everyone has enough, because people are sharing what they have or giving it away – of which Barnabas is an example. This community is beautiful: people want to join in, and even outsiders appreciate them. The power of the resurrection and the blessing of God can be seen in their midst.
The gift of generosity has the motto, ‘They shared everything they had.’ It empowers someone to share material resources as a physical sign of life in Christ.
Example: The Christian wives in Asia Minor, 1 Peter 2:11-17, 3:1-6
These Christians are facing serious opposition, but Peter calls them to live faithfully for the glory of God. Even if they are hated, the beauty of their lives will bring honour to God. Our example here is the wives of unbelieving husbands. Even if the husbands are hostile to the good news, the purity of these women will be a witness beyond words.
The gift of purity has the motto, ‘A life that speaks beyond words.’ It empowers someone to set a holy, Christ-like example for the glory of God, especially in a hostile environment.
Example: Paul in Acts 17:14-34
Here we see Paul working hard to understand his audience, their context, and their way of thinking. He enters into dialogue with both Jewish and Greek ideas (verses 17-18). He seeks to connect the message of Jesus with their framework (verses 22-23). He uses ideas not only from the Bible, but also from two philosophers, Epimenides of Crete and Aratus of Cilicia (verse 28).
The gift of dialogue has the motto, ‘Your own poets have said it.’ It’s about thoughtfully recognising the lordship of Jesus in every system of ideas.
(Note: Acts 17 is commonly used as an example of ‘apologetics’, but I’ve dubbed it dialogue, believing that dialogue/conversation/participation is a fruitful approach that we stand to gain much from in campus ministry. See: engaging the university.)
Example: Peter in Acts 2:12-40
Churches need to be evangelised too! Like one of the Old Testament prophets, Peter brings a strong message of warning to a community that is missing the mark. His call is, ‘Listen!’ and ‘Turn back!’ and ‘Save yourselves!’ (v22, v38, v40). He is speaking not to outsiders, but to the people of God who have failed to recognise Jesus as Lord.
The gift of ‘confrontation’ has the motto, ‘Don’t miss out!’ It brings a prophetic challenge to Christians, calling them to renew their faithfulness to Jesus.
(Note: I’ve used the term ‘confrontation’ instead of ‘prophecy’, which tends to have fortune-telling connotations in Tanzania.)
Image credit: Diz Play
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.