Recently, I joined a team of college student leaders in midtown Atlanta with our church planting partners at m28 Church. The goal? Starting conversations with the people of Atlanta. Our daily prayer as a team was simple and went something like this: “Father, turn our man-made conversations into gospel conversations. We can start conversations, but only your Spirit makes them gospel conversations. Help us to see you at work.”
There is freedom in that prayer. The Church has always been entrusted with the responsibility to speak Jesus. Yet, every time we speak the gospel, we need the power of God to invade the conversation. We, the church, have been called to a task that we cannot accomplish by ourselves.
Here’s the point: that paradox should free us.
Evangelism is the great exercise of our trust in God – a truth we easily ignore, because we constantly fall prey to the lie that evangelism is what we do for God. We slide back into performance-driven obedience.
We are not the catalyst for evangelism; the Spirit is. I feel there are probably more like me who struggle to trust God in our gospeling.
Often, I speak the gospel from a heart that trusts in myself. We trust our words, our “turn of phrase,” our “system.” Too many times, I begin with the end in mind and forget to listen. On the way, I miss the other person’s point of need, that open door to speak in a way that aligns with God’s work that has been going on for years in that person’s life.
Jesus is clear: “…apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5b).
We are limited in our ability, but Jesus makes sure we know our limitations are not a liability to Him. Our limitations are precisely what God chooses to use for His glory.
He tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:3). What is Jesus saying here? He’s saying there is a sort of shared poverty within those who follow Him. This is not a physical poverty, but a soul poverty. A realization that as long I call the shots, I have no functional need for King Jesus. But for those who tire of their own self-rule, these will freely embrace the good rule of King Jesus.
Soul-deep poverty leads us to say, “Jesus, please show up! Do your work.”
Our culture needs less “expert evangelists” and more poor ones. The poor gospeler is the one who recognizes that without the Spirit, not one conversation with an Uber driver will be a true gospel conversation. The poor gospeler is, ironically, a joyful gospeler, whose words spring from freedom and a profound awareness of how good Jesus is.
If we were to be a poor gospelers, what would we do differently?
- We would pray more, because God changes hearts & opens eyes.
- We would repent more, because God works in us before He works through us.
- We would study more, because we never have all the answers.
- We would speak more, because God is at work.
- We would love more, because we are deeply loved.
“Father, turn our man-made conversations into gospel conversations. We can start conversations, but only your Spirit makes them gospel conversations. Help us to see you at work.”