Editors’ note: This article has been adapted from Kathleen Nielson’s introduction to Joyfully Spreading the Word: Sharing the Good News of Jesus (Crossway, 2018).
As women in the church learn and grow together, following Paul’s instruction to Titus that older women should teach the younger ones “what is good” (Titus 2:3), a call to evangelism must be a crucial part of the good things passed on. God’s people have the astounding privilege of passing on the good news of what God has done for us through the death of Christ on our behalf and his resurrection from the grave. Although it is clearly the concern of the whole church—both men and women—the subject of sharing the gospel is one that women will do well to consider deeply together.
Let me suggest three specific reasons why.
1. We Need Gospel-Centered Focus
First, believing women need to hear voices calling us to a gospel-centered, outward focus—rather than a self-centered, inward one. Especially in Western contexts where many Christians have lived comfortably for a long time, there is often a lack of passion and clarity about communicating the gospel to those who don’t know Christ. I regularly find a great deal of passion among women for personal issues, amid the challenges of relatively well-to-do lives that can leave us stressed or lazy or worried about physical appearances or tempted by easily available ungodly entertainment. It is easy for many of us to focus on inward-oriented questions that are important but that can consume our thoughts: questions about self-image and identity, emotional health, finding just the right work and finding satisfaction in that work, etc. When we do turn outward toward social issues and actions—and, happily, we increasingly do—the temptation is to turn with passion to the physical and emotional needs that move our hearts.
Why are we not equally moved, or even more moved, to share the good news of Jesus and how he can meet the greatest and eternal needs of every needy human being?
2. We Need Role Models
Second, there are great role models who can teach us biblically and well. Men and women together share the call to evangelism, but women can play a distinct and significant part in this family enterprise, in a myriad of ways. One way is through offering role models to the next generation, to help them envision just what a woman with a heart to share the gospel looks like in action—a woman who simply serves in the places where God puts her, showing and sharing the good news of what God has done to save us through his Son.
Women with hearts to share the gospel juggle a variety of contexts, mixing home and work and friendship and hospitality and mercy ministry in that sometimes-chaotic combination that makes up many women’s lives. The multiple involvements balanced fruitfully by women around us can spur us on to see that we can share the gospel in any and every life context—at a kitchen table, or a podium in front of thousands, or an office desk. We can help one another think creatively concerning the possibility of reaching out not just to people across the globe but to neighbors across the street and people across town.
No matter what our involvements, we can spur one another on in learning and sharing the Word which is at the heart of our ongoing witness. As we strive for increasingly careful, consistent study of God’s Word, we can aim not simply to feed ourselves, but also to feed others with the Word of truth. In every context of her life, the thoughts and words of a gospel-hearted woman are naturally full of the Scriptures. Her articulations of clear gospel apologetics grow from the very logic and flow of the Old and New Testaments, with Jesus at the center of the story. As we spur one another on, we come to view our study of the Word not so much as a routine private meal, but more as an ever-larger table where we get to share an amazing feast.
3. We Need to Grasp the Urgency of the Good News
Finally, women should be considering deeply together the subject of personal evangelism because we sense the urgency of teaching each other this part of “what is good.” The paragraph immediately following Paul’s instructions to Titus concerning the various groups within the church gives the big reason for all his instructions:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11–13)
The emphasis in this passage is God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ that has come for “all people” and that happens in a certain time frame—a time frame that will culminate in the second coming of the Lord Jesus to earth, in all his glory.
What Paul calls the “present age” is the same period also referred to in Scripture as the “last days” (Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2). These terms describe the time in which we now live—the time between Jesus’s first and second coming. It’s a time of taking salvation to all the nations, as believers spread the good news, until Jesus’s return. According to his clear command before he left the earth, the calling of believers during this time is to “go . . . and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18–20).
That command was given to Jesus’s disciples and is passed on through them to the church, with its preachers and teachers and evangelists who lead the church in making and teaching disciples both near and far. It should encourage women as a part of the church to feel the urgency of this call, just as did the women in the early church. Just think of all those fellow female workers mentioned by Paul: Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphaena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus’s mother, Julia, Nereus’s sister (see Romans 16).
Among people who enjoy all the economic progress and technological enlightenment of the 21st century, rather than urgency there can be even a slight embarrassment about the simple truth that the Bible lights up the way of salvation through Jesus. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died for us, bearing our sins and suffering the wrath of God in our place; that he rose from the grave, providing eternal life for all who believe in him—this is indeed the good and relatively simple news the Bible teaches and Christians get to share. We share it today in a time when the church is growing fast all over the globe, even in nations that are politically “closed” but where King Jesus is at work through his people and his Word. It is urgent news indeed, as the hope of Jesus’s coming draws ever nearer.
We all need voices calling us to a gospel-centered outward focus. We need strong Word-filled role models. And we need a sense of the urgency of this message, this message that calls people from death to life through the power of the gospel. This is the bread of life that lasts forever, and we need to share it.