Jesus charged his apostles – and by extension, his church – with the great commission. The mission he gave us involves both the proclaiming of the gospel as well as the discipling of those who put their trust in Jesus.
If we are honest with ourselves, the American church is not great at either proclaiming or discipling, but we are doing worse on the proclaiming end, and it’s only getting worse. As our culture becomes increasing secular and as Christians increasingly buy into the notion that our faith is to be kept private, we are becoming increasingly reluctant to proclaim Jesus. There are a host of reasons for this, but I am not concerned to analyze them at this point. Instead, I want to focus on the type of evangelism we are opting for in its place. Some have called it “lifestyle evangelism.” Lifestyle evangelism entails the notion that the way we live our life is the best witness of Jesus. Our lives are a living gospel. This form of evangelism is summed up in the apocryphal quote attributed to Francis Assisi: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”