What Evangelism Isn’t

An excerpt from Pastor Mark Dever’s new book on evangelism appears today in Christianity Today online. You can read the excerpt here. You can order the book here.

In the excerpt, Dever says this:

“Who can deny that much modern evangelism has become emotionally manipulative, seeking simply to cause a momentary decision of the sinner’s will, yet neglecting the biblical idea that conversion is the result of the supernatural, gracious act of God toward the sinner?

“When we are involved in a program in which converts are quickly counted, decisions are more likely pressed, and evangelism is gauged by its immediately obvious effect, we are involved in undermining real evangelism and real churches.

“The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn’t converting people; it’s telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.”


  • MatthewS

    Good stuff.

    This is one area where the emerging church has a helpful message. As I read it, and this is only from my perspecive, emergents are concerned far more with the ongoing lifestyle, “the way” if you will, than with getting an initial agreement from people. I don’t say this to stir up a debate. I am personally more evangelical than emerging but I believe in learning from helpful criticism wherever possible.

  • jeff miller

    What an important topic! It looks like Mark Dever is making important observations.
    The article seems strongest on telling us what evangelizing is not. How can we be more informed about what it is? What does Evangelizing look like in the Scriptures where we see the “euanggelidzo” word group used? What do the explicit examples look like when Jesus, Peter, or Paul euanggelidzo or gospelize? Hopefully we will be helped by Mark’s work to be more faithful to the biblical concept of evangelizing.

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