How does Epic Movement view evangelism? This article by members of Epic’s Field Ministry & Leadership Development describes some of our values, desires, & expectations in evangelism.
That word may mean a lot of things to different people, but at its heart, we in Epic Movement believe that evangelism is about Christians sharing the greatest gift we possess. It’s about sharing the story and Good News of Jesus Christ, in a way that flows out of who we are, and in a way that honors God and other people.
There are countless ideas out there for how to do evangelism, how to answer difficult questions, or what content to share when describing the “essence of the gospel.” However, we believe that evangelism is not just about preaching a message, but also about how and why we preach that message. We believe that true evangelism shouldn’t compromise our core identity or values, but should flow out of them. When that happens, our evangelism will be fruitful and sustaining for a lifetime!
What is the end product that we’re asking God for?
That’s why we want everyone who is involved with Epic to learn to become a leader in evangelism for life, not just during their time in Epic! Specifically, we want to see every graduating student, staff and volunteer who is influenced by Epic to gain experience, confidence, and value-based training so that they are able to initiate respectful spiritual conversations in the full variety of their life contexts (i.e. with families, friends, neighborhoods, workplaces).
We want more than just a sheer number of conversations or conversions. We want to develop leaders and values in evangelism that reflect God’s heart, and see those be reproduced from generation to generation. We believe this is what Jesus did, and what will ultimately yield the most fruit in our mission, qualitatively and quantitatively!
So what kind of values and leadership do we want to be reproduced in evangelism?
First of all, on a personal note: all three of us (authors) are still growing, learning, and in process about evangelism. We’ve experienced evangelism that is effective and ineffective in method, honoring and dishonoring in approach — both in what we’ve seen around us, and what we’ve ourselves done. We know from personal experience that it is challenging to re-evaluate or change methods that are long-standing, and yet may be becoming less effective.
It takes courage to confront approaches that fall short of God’s standard for what would serve and honor others and Himself. None of us have “arrived,” but our greatest underlying value, motivation, and longing is to pursue a way of seeing and doing evangelism that reflects the heart of God for us, and for other people. We want the humility to be willing to listen, learn, and re-evaluate as we make mistakes, but relentlessly pursue God’s heart for evangelism.
We’ve connected our stated commitments in leadership in Epic (The Nine Elements) with evangelism, in the following values:
EPIC SEES Evangelism…
- As a Relationship, not a Transaction:
We care about what happens to a person before and after the moment of the spiritual conversation. It’s about the person, not just a transaction. We value relationship, and believe transformation happens as the Holy Spirit works in someone’s life in the context of ongoing relationships and trust. Evangelism is about initiative and intentionality to serve people and share the good news of Christ not just during a one-time event, but over the long haul.
- As Flowing out of who we are, in our Cultures, Gifts, and Values:
Each person who shares their faith has something unique that they bring, rather than just a warm body behind a formula. We want people to be self-aware as they share out of the fullness of who they are, and their gifts and values. We also want people to know what and why they believe what they do, rather than just repeating or reciting information from another source.
There is something unique and sacred about the intersection of two lives in the moment of a spiritual conversation, where God is shaping both peoples’ lives and character, for His greater purposes. We believe in mutuality and honoring one another and what we bring in spiritual conversations.
- As Investing in and Uplifting People:
Christians are in possession of the greatest gift in the world — the good news and transformative power of a new life with Christ, and the deep truths and wisdom of His kingdom. Our posture as evangelists is to give away that power, that others might be uplifted to new heights, and empowered to live out the fullest version of who God created them uniquely to be!
- As Being in Touch with what’s going on Inside Us:
Doing evangelism draws out our inner fears, anxieties, and motivations — whether it’s fear of initiating a conversation that may cause discomfort, or our need to be “right” and have all the answers as we evangelize. All of this influences how much we choose to do evangelism in the first place, and how we interact with people as we evangelize. It matters not just what we communicate in evangelism, but how and why. It is our desire to gain greater awareness for what’s going on inside us, understand how it impacts our evangelism, and move towards being a non-anxious presence as we interact with people.
- As Flowing out of Core Values, not the Pressures around Us:
In doing evangelism, we face many pressures as we engage with others (and even as we realize our limitations and make mistakes), to conform and compromise. We value having a connection with Jesus that is intimate and secure enough, such that mistakes and adversity don’t stop us from learning and trying again. We also won’t change the essential truths of the gospel due to external pressures to please others, nor will we compromise our commitment to humble and loving behavior because we feel threatened or insecure.
- As sharing Jesus Christ with Patience, Kindness, and Willingness to Sacrifice:
In anything and everything we do in evangelism, our motive is love. Not just any kind of love, but Christ’s love which is patient, kind, slow to anger, selfless, resilient, and all that is outlined in 1 Corinthians 13. We are willing to lay down our lives that those we are ministering to might live.
- As Helping People connect with God’s Greater Purpose and Meaning amidst Adversity and Despair:
As people encounter the numerous challenges, responsibilities, and confusions of life, our desire in evangelism is to connect them to our anchor and source of hope, Jesus Christ. We desire to live out the courage and love of Jesus, to not just get lost in our own small worlds, but to see beyond to the needs of others and how much they need to hope. We all have a deep need to see and embrace God’s greater purpose and the meaning we all long for, and evangelism is using our words and lives to intentionally help others to do that.
How does this fit with the three “modes” in evangelism (ministry, natural, body life) and “initiative evangelism?”
First, we believe that all three modes of evangelism are valuable and effective. Second, we desire for all of them to involve taking initiative, not just ministry mode. We in Epic believe that all the values listed above can and should guide our evangelism in each mode, though they manifest themselves differently.
In Epic Movement, we recognize the unique nature of the college environment and context, and the unique opportunities for ministry and leadership growth of this particular stage in students’ lives. So we will seek to create environments on campus where all modes (body, natural, and ministry) work together to create a synergy that maximizes what God can do in non-Christian students’ lives on a campus, and maximizes the learning that takes place in the lives of students involved with Epic on that campus.
Given the nature of post-college life and realities, we observe that most opportunities for evangelism for graduated students will be in natural and body modes, with some (but fewer) opportunities for ministry mode. However, we believe ministry mode experience in college will provide training, experience, and empowerment that students can carry with them into the other modes of evangelism. We believe that all 3 modes working together during students’ college years, when framed with the proper mindset and expectations, will prepare them best for fruitfulness and leadership in evangelism for the rest of their lives. We want to take a long term view on how we think about evangelism, just like we want to take a long term view on our contribution to every area of building into the life and leadership of each college student who is involved with Epic.
Tom, Larry, and Adrian at the time of writing this article served on the Field Ministry and Leadership Development teams of Epic Movement, the Asian American ministry of Cru Global. Learn more about Epic’s mission and values at www.epicmovement.com. Formatting & design by Whitney Tu.