“To evangelise is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.” — Lausanne Covenant, clause 4.
The Lausanne Covenant states that “To evangelise is to spread the Good News…” Evangelism is thus an activity by which a particular body of truth, the evangel, is spread. Of immediate and obvious significance is the fact that the matter of fruit or success in spreading the news is omitted from the definition, and rightly so, in my judgement. The authenticity of evangelism does not depend on fruit. We should aim for converts, but one can evangelise without winning people to Christ, though winning people to Christ is the aim of evangelism. Likewise one can play soccer without necessarily scoring goals, though scoring goals is the aim of playing soccer.
The Lausanne Covenant also strongly resisted any confusion between evangelism and socio-political engagement. According to Canon Douglas Webster’s helpful distinction between mission and evangelism, “mission” is a comprehensive word with a large meaning, while “evangelism” is a more restricted word with a sharply defined meaning. Jesus’ own mission included many things (healing, cleansing, liberating, and proclaiming), only one of which can properly be described as evangelism. Thus “all evangelism is mission. Not all mission is evangelism.” Webster makes this final statement on the definition of evangelism: “Evangelism is the proclaiming of the Gospel, particularly to those who have not heard it, or who have not understood it, or who have not responded to it, or who have forgotten it.”
All Christians are called to be witnesses. As Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” All of us are to be ready to speak openly about the personal experience of the life-giving relationship we have with Jesus Christ.
Some Christians, however, may be spiritually gifted with the specific ministry of evangelism. That means that they are gifted in proclaiming the “Evangel” or Good News about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that gives us humans the possibility of becoming a child of God and living with him for all eternity.
This site holds a huge variety of information and resources that can strengthen organisations and churches to properly understand, implement, and foster the crucial task of reaching the whole world with the good news about Jesus. Jesus Christ calls all people everywhere to repent, believe and follow.