This year (actually last year, too) brings a renewed focus on personal evangelism for me. I’m excited about it, though I don’t rank myself among the world’s best evangelists. I suspect my weaknesses fall into two broad categories: insufficient encouragement and no specific enough plan. I suspect we all perform better when we have people spurring us on and when we have some definite sense of what we’re trying to achieve. An evangelist without a plan is not an evangelist at all, to modify Nietzsche.

I’m working on my plan for the year, which includes a goal of having at least one meaningful evangelistic conversation with someone every week. That means I’m going to have to be more thoughtful and intentional about putting myself in contact with neighbors who are not yet Christians. I’m looking forward to doing that more intentionally and aggressively this year. Pray for me.

For encouragement, I’m going to spend more time with some young men in the congregation who genuinely have evangelistic hearts. I’m also going to spend more time engaging with church planters, missionaries, and others sharing their stories and experiences. To that end, I want to share a story from some church planters working in a hard-to-reach area. May the Lord give me more of this kind of intentionality and creativity!

I went to a tea party the week Obama won the election, and I knew the topic would come up. I did some homework about Mormonism and Islam. There is a whole Wikipedia entry devoted to comparisons between the two sects. Sure enough, at the tea party one friend brought up Romney and Mormonism. I explained the basics – that Joseph Smith said he got a special message from an angel from God even though no one else saw the angel, that he said the [New Testament] had been changed and only the Book of Mormon was correct, that many people followed him, that Christians fought against him, and that he had strange ideas like polygamy. I got to share the message twice, each time only one woman listened – both were lawyer’s wives. They each said, ‘That’s just like Islam,’ very early on in my explanation. I explained that Joseph Smith did no miracles to prove that his message was really from God. I asked, ‘If I told you I had seen an angel and got a book from God, would you believe me?’ They said no. I asked, ‘If I turned this water into wine, would you believe me?’ ‘Maybe.’ ‘What if I healed Ibrahim Tatlises (partially paralyzed pop singer from Turkey)?’ ‘Maybe.’ ‘What if I raised Baris Mancho (popular Turkish singer who died in 1999) from the dead? Would you believe me?’ ‘Yes!’ So I said, ‘Jesus did all these things. He brought a message from God. He turned water into wine. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. This is why I believe Jesus.’ Alas, there was no outward sign of an inward change. I have been praying every day for Beth and Jazzy.

Here’s a saint that considered a major world event (the U.S. election) and its religious dimensions, did a little homework, and used it wonderfully in defense and proclamation of the gospel. Encourages me to do the same. May the Lord produce fruit! Please join us in praying for Beth and Jazzy right now, that they would repent and believe in Christ for their salvation.

What about you? How are you doing with evangelism and what encouragements or plans do you have for the New Year?