Nothing strikes fear and guilt in the heart of a Christian like the topic of evangelism.

Many of us are fearful because the evangelists we highlight are people who have impressive amounts of knowledge and noteworthy stories of success.  When we feel inadequate, we can easily neglect evangelism altogether.

Three of the biggest misconceptions:

  1. Jesus called us to depend on professionals.  Pastors are not the only ones who should evangelize.  In fact, many people get defensive around pastors.  If you aren’t a professional minister, you have more open doors than pastors oftentimes do.
  2. Jesus called us to make converts.  The Great Commission calls us to make disciples (Matt. 28:19) – not converts.  When a person receives the gospel, they don’t cross the finish line but the starting line.  Jesus commanded us to disciple people and not just provide hell insurance and move on from there.
  3. Jesus called us to reach strangers.  If you study the progression of gospel advancement in the New Testament, you will see that most of it happened in the context of relationships.  While “cold-call” evangelism can be successful, that’s not the most predominant context of successful ministry.

Oscar Thompson taught others how to evangelize through Concentric Circles of Concern: Seven Stages for Making Disciples.  In his book, he spoke of 7 different circles to view evangelism:

  1. Yourself
  2. Family
  3. Relatives
  4. Friends
  5. Neighbors & Associates
  6. Acquaintances
  7. Person X

The premise was that you will probably have more opportunity with the people closest to you.  While you take advantage of the moments with “Person X” whom you may never see again, you should prioritize the people within your proximity.

Here’s another way to look at it – identify the nearest 5 people to you in the following areas.  Within that list, determine to investigate where each person stands with Christ.  Some of those people will be people you believe to have faith in Christ.  Some you will be unsure. Others you will be fairly confident, based upon the lack of spiritual fruit in their lives, that they are not Christians.

As you work through that list, you will determine the people with great spiritual need in near proximity to you.

Decide who you need to be intentional with in these 6 areas:

  1. In your home  Where is your family spiritually?
  2. In your group – Where are your closest friends spiritually?
  3. At your job – Where are your co-workers spiritually?
  4. On your street – Where are your neighbors spiritually?
  5. In your ministry – Where are your students spiritually?
  6. In your path – Where are your associates spiritually?

Make your list.  Get praying.  Get started.

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.