A call for evangelism, and why it might be missing in the West

A call for evangelism, and why it might be missing in the West

The gospel message is that Jesus Christ is the only one in whom we can find salvation, meaning and hope. Christians find great comfort and joy in this exclusive claim by Jesus. And it leads us to an inescapable piece of logic: those who are not currently following Jesus are in big trouble and need to come to Jesus. That’s true whether they are following other religions, are devoted to some other philosophy of life, or if they have simply never thought about these kinds of things deeply.

Paul puts the logic of all this clearly and memorably:

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

                      (Rom. 10:13-15 ESV)


People need to come to trust in Jesus. And for that to happen, someone needs to tell them about Jesus. That is how God designed everything; while God is the one who makes people respond to the gospel, he calls Christians to simply tell people about the good news.

The logic is simple; so why do so few people seem to do it, especially in the western world? Why is evangelism something that many Christians never seem to get around to doing, if we believe it is one of the most important activities we could ever do?

The early church in Acts grew as ordinary people told others about Jesus (like in Acts 8:4). The church in many parts of Africa and Asia and South America is growing rapidly right now as Christians do the same, often under significant cultural and government opposition. I don’t think it is an accident that the church in the East is growing much faster than the church in the West.

Why are so many Christians reluctant to speak to others about Jesus? There are many reasons, but for the purposes of this blog post let me touch on just five.

  1. We think too individualistically

Too often we think only of ourselves, about me and God. That is the way we think about so many things in the West. Those in the majority world are much more connected with family and tribe and society than we are. This individual way of thinking can lead us to fail to see the urgent need of our friends for Jesus.

  1. We can have a poor view of predestination

In some Reformed circles, the fact that God chooses people before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) is emphasised. And it is a great truth to emphasise! God does indeed save people and is responsible for their salvation. Paul obviously believed that too, yet he spent his whole life trying to spread the gospel. These two things do not contradict one another. If anything, our belief in God’s sovereignty should drive us to proclaim the gospel with boldness!

  1. We have made an idol out of respect in the eyes of the world

People will think you strange if you talk about Jesus. There is no denying this. If you live for Jesus you will always be out of step with the values of this world. Yet that’s fine. We see people speaking about what they are passionate about all the time: the football, the news, veganism, and politics. We need to be prepared to be out of step with the world.

  1. We convince ourselves that it won’t work

I used to believe that no-one was interested in the gospel. Taking part in an evangelistic course many years ago forced me to do street evangelism and I found myself in good conversations with strangers. There were polite no-s but also interested people. Our church has seen quite a few people come to Jesus from different backgrounds. The gospel works, the Spirit is still active, and there will be those who listen and come to Jesus. Don’t answer no for people before you speak to them about Jesus.

  1. We think that’s a job for gifted evangelists (and we’re not one of them)

The Bible talks about certain people who are gifted in evangelism, and we also have the example of people like Philip and Paul. So perhaps we can leave the task to people like this? Well, if you are specially gifted in evangelism, of course you should focus on this. Yet the rest of us also have a responsibility here. The most gifted of evangelists won’t know your friends and family, and it is also unlikely many of them will come to a church service to hear the gospel. Someone needs to tell them, and logic says the most likely person is you. The church needs ordinary Christians to tell people about Jesus.


Perhaps all this talk of evangelism makes you feel guilty. It makes me feel guilty! But don’t click away and wait for the guilt to leave. We should do something about it.

Start small. Pray for God to give you opportunities to talk about Jesus. Pray for one specific friend or family member. You will be amazed how God answers prayers like these. People need Jesus; let’s look for opportunities to show them where true hope and meaning and salvation can be found.