What Is Evangelism?

Sam Larrabee • 6 minutes

Think about the last time you shared good news with someone else. Maybe you had a positive life event and immediately texted your closest friend. Or you might have had a great latte at a coffee shop, and you want your coffee-obsessed friend to share your experience. What did you do when you shared the news? You evangelized. 

What Is Evangelism? 

Evangelism simply means sharing good news. If you’ve heard the word evangelism before, it’s probably been connected to faith in Jesus. That’s because evangelism is a word many Christians use to describe any action that tells the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. If you’d like more info on the story of Jesus, check out this post

The hope of evangelism is that a person might place their trust in Jesus, accept the forgiveness He offers, and start a relationship with Him. In many Christian communities, this is called salvation—and it’s followed by getting to know God better and learning to live like Jesus. But evangelism is about so much more than just individual salvation. Evangelism is how God builds His kingdom, welcomes people into heaven, and brings heaven to earth. 

Why Do We Use the Word “Evangelism”?

Early Christians used the word “evangelism” to talk about the story of Jesus because it was good news for everyone. But they also had another reason.

The Roman Empire ruled during the time of the early church, and the Romans regularly invaded neighboring countries to gain land, resources, and forced labor. But before they invaded, they would send a messenger to the city to invite the people to surrender their freedom to Rome willingly. 

These messengers spread the “good news” of Rome: the empire’s advanced culture, health care, economy, and safety. Caesar Augustus, the Roman ruler of the time, provided these desirable things—and the Romans referred to him as the son of God. After explaining all this, the evangelist would ask the people if they would join the empire. But this “generous” proposal was usually accompanied by a threat. Declining the offer would likely lead to invasion.

The early church adapted the idea of evangelism to talk about the better news of Jesus and His very different kind of kingdom. They shared that Jesus, not Augustus, was the true Son of God, and that Jesus’ kingdom wasn’t built on violence and oppression. Instead, God’s kingdom is built through kindness, forgiveness, and true generosity.

Evangelism invites us to ask: What is “good news”? Is it being absorbed into a strong earthly nation? Or is it being welcomed into God’s new heavenly kingdom where everyone is invited to experience love, belonging, and purpose

So, what is evangelism? For followers of Jesus, evangelism is about building God’s kingdom: a kingdom that’s bigger than any individual nation and makes the world more like heaven. That might sound like an intimidating job, but anyone can get involved. 

How Do We Evangelize? Here are 3 Ways.

Evangelism is sharing good news with people–and there are plenty of ways we can do it. You don’t need to know tons of theology or have all the answers to share the story of Jesus. All you need is a basic understanding of the good news and a desire to tell it to others. 

1. Telling the Story

One of the best ways to evangelize is to tell people the story of Jesus. Before sharing the story, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions: How well do I know the person I’m sharing with? What is their faith background? How can I tell the story in a way this person will understand? 

Here’s a very short summary of the story of Jesus: 

Jesus is God in human form. He lived a perfect life and showed us how to live in a God-honoring, others-focused way. But He lived in a world full of sinful people who took advantage of the suffering of others. Jesus’ life-giving message was good news for hurting people but was a threat to those in power. So the Roman government executed Jesus. But three days later, He rose from the dead–proving that He is the Son of God and that His way of life can save the world. Jesus invited His followers to imitate His life and tell others how to find forgiveness and new life through trusting Jesus. 

2. Living the Story

As Christians, our hope is that everyone would find true life and peace in Jesus and begin to live and love like He does. Evangelism is much more than just sharing information and hoping people agree with a set of beliefs. Evangelism involves telling the good news and living the good news. 

Jesus lived an others-focused life, making small and large sacrifices for the good of others. He showed care to people of every belief and background and welcomed people who felt like outsiders. Jesus also forgave people, including His enemies. 

We’re called to copy Jesus’ way of life. We won’t always get it right, but with God’s help, we can become more like Him every day. If we have a different goal, then it’s a sign that we might not fully understand the good news. 

Living like Jesus is strange–and people will notice when we do. So let’s avoid simply telling the story, and choose to live the story as well. 

3. Telling Our Story

How has the good news of Jesus changed your life? Maybe you came to know Jesus later in life and it rapidly changed you in dramatic ways. Or you might have grown up in church, but then you had an experience that made you reexamine the good news in a fresh way. 

Spend some time reflecting on your faith journey. How have you experienced God’s grace, goodness, and forgiveness? What habits or practices have helped you live the good news in your daily life? And how have you seen God work in your life?

Telling people about your life is a meaningful way to evangelize because it shows the power of the good news.

A Bonus Way to Evangelize

Sharing the story, living the story, and telling our story are the key ingredients to evangelism. But there’s one way you can expand the influence of evangelism–inviting people to church

During a church service, people have the opportunity to learn more about God and might have the opportunity to decide to follow Jesus. If you’re evangelizing to people who don’t live near you, consider inviting them to attend church online together. 

If you’d like to invite someone to church who doesn’t live close to you, consider inviting them to attend Life.Church Online.

You Can’t “Win” Evangelism

Evangelism is a process, so we don’t “win” by trying to get a positive response in the shortest time possible. We can’t force people to accept the good news, and it could be relationship-breaking to try. Many people need to wrestle with the good news for a long time before they’re prepared to respond. Others might reject the good news outright now, but decide years later to respond positively. 

Remember that Jesus didn’t have a 100% “evangelism score.” Plenty of people rejected His message and walked away. Our role is to be faithful as we tell the story, live it, and share it. But the process is in God’s hands. So we pray, trust, and continue to evangelize to anyone God puts in our path, and we celebrate when people say yes to the good news of Jesus. 

If you’d like to learn more about Jesus, start this Bible Plan.