8 Reasons I Struggle Doing Evangelism

I’m a professor of evangelism, but that doesn’t mean I find evangelism easy to do. For the past several months, I’ve been seeking prayerfully to recognize – and push beyond – any causes for this struggle. I know that fear is often a cause for not doing evangelism, but I don’t think fear is my primary issue. I’ve been privileged to train at the highest levels to evangelize, so that’s not an issue. No, my obstacles are sometimes far more subtle:

  1. I still live in a Christian bubble. I’ve recognized this tendency for a long time, but here’s where I’ve blown it: I’ve given myself more credit for addressing it than I deserve. I still find my comfort zone among believers.
  2. It’s easy to equate my pulpit ministry with doing evangelism. When I preach the gospel every Sunday, it doesn’t take long to convince myself that I do evangelism every weekend. In fact, I can evangelize a bunch of people at once this way . . . .
  3. I still take Jesus for granted. I wrote the book Nobodies for Jesus to address this issue, but I’ve since learned that fighting against this tendency is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment work. None of us, regardless of our ministry positions, defaults into godly wonder. 
  4. I’m so busy it’s hard to find time to be with people. I work more than one job – all that are ministry-related. What I must admit now is how I’ve allowed ministry busyness to get in the way of knowing people to be reached.
  5. I can easily equate my missions work with doing evangelism. I love work on the mission field, and I always look forward to sharing the gospel around the world. I cannot, however, let that work give me permission to neglect my responsibility to go to my neighborhood.
  6. I forget about the reality of hell. Very early in my pastoral ministry, God broke me over the death of a non-believing friend. That event took place a long time ago. Too long ago, apparently.  
  7. I’m naturally introverted. I’m not the one to begin most conversations. My natural tendency is to wait until someone else starts the conversation – and non-believers seldom do that!
  8. I convince myself that multiplying laborers is better than my doing it all. “If I train hundreds of students per year,” I think, “that’s more effective than my doing it all.” In general, I think that statement’s true – but it’s distracting and deceptive if I use that excuse not to do evangelism personally. 

Please continue to pray for me as God breaks me and remolds me for the sake of His name and the good of others.

9 Comments

  • sharyn256 says:

    How painfully honest you have been in this post. I will pray for you even as I am reminded that some of the reasons you listed, are true for myself.

  • M.A. Hayward says:

    It may just be a matter of semantics, but there is a distinction to be made between an evangelist and a witness. Only some are called to be evangelists (Ephesians 4:11) just as only some are called to be apostles, and some prophets, and some shepherd/teachers (pastors). Every Christian, to a man and to a woman, is called, charged, and appointed to be a witness. I think some of the hesitancy among Christians is due to the fear of being pushed to be an evangelist when one isn’t actually appointed to that role. We can bear witness anywhere, at any time, to anyone–believers and non-believers. To some our witness will inspire, to others it may convict. We’re not all called to preach and teach, but we are all called to glorify God “as we go” about our daily lives. Do you see this distinction, and if so, how do you think it might influence the dynamic you’ve outlined above?

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    I agree that some are distinctly called to be evangelists, but I’m not uncomfortable with using the term “evangelism” for what all of us are to do — that is, to announce the good news. The term “witness” is, of course, one word for what we are to be and do (Acts 1:8). I fear sometimes, though, that we’ve reduced “witness” to something less than proclaiming the gospel.

  • Brad says:

    Thank you for your honesty. You are not alone in these limitations and fears. I, too struggle with many of the same. I will be praying for you, and ask that you remember me in your prayers.

  • Clay W. Ginn says:

    Dr. Lawless, I love your honestly and how candid you are in this. It’s a struggle I have as well.

    I work at home, so I’m not around many people outside of our church where we are heavily involved. As a fellow introvert, I also struggle to initiate conversation with others. My best efforts have been with those who live around us, which as I’ve found out are made up of mostly people who are believers anyway. I tend towards Oscar Thompson’s ideas of Concentric Circles of Concern, and try to be the best witness to those I do come into daily contact with while visiting the grocery store or eating out.

    I will be praying for God to work in you, as I hope you will do for those of us who read your blog.

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