A key mission of the church is to evangelize souls outside the Grace of God.
Unfortunately, sometimes when we engage those who don’t share our faith, this noble mission de-evolves into the lesser goals of winning arguments or the pursuit of numbers by changing the gospel message to appeal to a wider audience. True Christ-like evangelism is about delivering the unadulterated gospel of Jesus to those who are lost, without being condescending or demeaning. So the question for us; what is the best way to help those we are trying to evangelize change their minds and embrace the transforming power of scripture?
My time in the Air Force taught me that there are only three basic ways that we can get others to change their minds:
• By Persuasion
• By Monetary Incentive
• By Force.
Let’s look at these in reverse order. Being a military man I know that Physical Force works; America’s military has enabled us to impose our national will on other nations many times. This concept of force is also equally effective one on one, if a person believes their life or safety is threatened they will change their behavior in order to secure their safety. Next, Monetary Incentive is also very effective in getting people to change their lives to conform to the request of the person offering the incentive. Monetary incentives can range from the benign, such as paying a salary; to more nefarious actions such as offering a bribe or even worse, enticing people with a perverted gospel such as the health, wealth and prosperity doctrine. Finally there is the Power of Persuasion. When compelling reasons are given for a different course of action, an honest and sincere person will frequently be convinced to change both his mind and his conduct.
All three methods have been employed by various groups to evangelize converts however only one is acceptable to God for use by Christians. It should be obvious that neither force nor monetary incentive is approved of by God as a way to win converts to His Son. While these methods might change people’s actions they will not change their convictions, a belief in what is right cannot be imposed on the human mind by either force or money. Ultimately the change in conduct brought on by these two methods only lasts as long as the force or the money remains constant.
The only tool left to the Christian — the power of persuasion! This is precisely as God has ordained it. Note the following two passages:
“Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men….” (2 Corinthians 5:11 ).
“….and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening” (Acts 28:23 ).
Our Lord is not interested in “forced” service or “bribed” obedience. He is interested in people being persuaded to “obey from the heart” (Romans 6:17). God desires a transformation of the whole man which begins with “the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 ).
Is the power of persuasion enough? Yes, because scripture is sufficient for everything else “All scripture is inspired….that the man of god may be thoroughly furnished for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16 ).
The only thing that can render it ineffective is our refusal or negligence to use it. May God always find us diligently engaged in evangelism, the power of persuasion, to change the minds of men.
In service to our Lord,
– Rod Ellison