The Difference Between Evangelism and Conversion
A common mistake that undermines our integrity and impinges on the integrity of the other is to equate evangelism with conversion; but they are not the same. Authentic evangelism is not conversion. The Faith Sharing New Testament gives us an excellent definition of conversion: Christian conversion is “the change that God works in us as we respond to God’s grace in repentance and faith.”1
God is responsible for conversion. When it comes to evangelism, we are only responsible for making the gospel known. This is a liberating concept. We are not responsible for making converts. We may desire conversion to happen, we may pray fervently as we discussed during our last session, but it is not within our power to make it happen.
It is better to stop worrying about the results of our evangelizing and instead worry about whether we have truly made the gospel known in our relationships with others. The results are in God’s hands. Releasing the responsibility for conversion also enables us to see that evangelism is never something we do to people. It is something we do with the gospel. We make the gospel known.
If we think of the evangelistic task as making the gospel known, the way in which we make it known is significant. When integrity is an essential value, we make the gospel known in a way that reflects the completeness of our lives. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we share the good news of Jesus Christ through our words, through our deeds, and through the signs that the Holy Spirit makes evident in our midst. And as the metaphor of embrace illustrates, we wait and watch in respectful humility and work with expectant hope.