Growing up in the Bible belt I was exposed to a healthy portion of good o'le Southern Baptist doctrine. And one of the staples of southern conservative Christianity is Evangelism. Few faith groups in America are as good at sharing their faith and message to gain converts as Baptists. (However, as I understand it, the Mormons have us beat.)
As I have made my way through seminary I have gotten a taste of the more moderate flavors of the Baptists pie. One thing I have noticed is that Evangelism looks quite different in a moderate Baptist church. You might say that moderate baptists have shied away from 'traditional' Baptist evangelism for fear of appearing to be Southern Baptist. And this trend has impacted me in one way or another. I have found myself more removed from teaching about evangelism or faith sharing. I have even found myself keeping away from the "E" word all together. and this is regrettable.
However, recently I have found a renewed appreciation for euaggelizo. We get the word "evangelism" by transliterating the Greek word seen above. When taken apart, the Greek word euaggelizo is made up of two parts.
The first word, "eu" is a prefix meaning "good." It is the same as the "eu" prefix in the word 'eulogy' (meaning "good word") or 'euthanasia' (meaning "good death").
The second part of the word, aggelos, is the word from which we get "angel." It literally means, "messenger."
So when put together "good" and "message" become "the good message" or "good news." The verb would be "to share the good news."
I don't know how or why, but somehow this understanding of the word helps me to come back to a healthy respect for what evangelism is. I helps me to disassociate evangelism with overly anxious Bible thumping street preachers that preach more condemnation than grace and re-associate it with a genuine telling of something that is good and worth while.
If you have been like me and strayed away from traditional evangelism, perhaps you can join me on the shore of genuine faith sharing that isn't concerned with counting baptisms or one-hit-conversions .
In my opinion, meaningful evangelism is done through life giving relationships with people and with Jesus the Anointed One rather than through reciting a prayer or walking down the Roman Road. From Jesus' own mouth we know that faith sharing is important, but I hope we can hold an honest picture of what that looks like.
However we do so, let's be sure to share the good message.