So How Often Should We Preach the Gospel
It seems relatively safe to assume that we determine how often we preach the Gospel by looking to the source of the written Gospel message. That being the Bible. From there, we look at the examples and commands. As I have stated before, The Great Commission is more than just a suggestion. It is a command.
Explicitly included in that command is the very parameter for how often we are to be about the work of Gospel Advancement. So, what did Jesus tells us in that command? He said, “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to all…” As many evangelistically minded folks have reminded us, go means go. Furthermore, it is a demonstrable action. It is the very epitome of obedience to our Lord and Savior. I posit to you that it was this very command that Paul had in mind when he penned Romans 10:14-15. I will grant you that Paul did quote from Isaiah in the following verses. But the very words of Christ had to be a driving force here.
So, my answer to the question, “How often are we to preach the Gospel?” is, “All the time.”
Consequently, this is now the shortest essay I have ever written…
You Didn’t Really Think I was Done, did You?
One of the most common questions I receive from fellow Christians flows from struggles with frequency.
“Todd, when do I know I have preached the Gospel enough?” or “How often? And when is it time to stop?”
While I do not believe that evangelism is a gift that only some people are given, I do agree that some more geared towards being active. What I believe is the root cause of the question of how often is more about how do I know I have been obedient? I have met and know some folks that believe they are being sinful if they do not carry Gospel tracts with them everywhere, they go. Some will go even further and tell others that if they are not handing out tracts or sharing the Gospel with everyone around them, they are being disobedient.
When you juxtapose the heavy-handed nature of such people with the timid nature of the non-evangelizing majority of (ironically) Evangelicalism, you have a perfect storm of legalism and license. Last year I published an essay on my own forays into that level of legalism. In that essay, “My Confession”, I offered an apology for how hard I used to be on people who didn’t meet my standards for frequency.
Nonetheless, I stand by the assertion that every Christian should be preaching the Gospel. Frequency will be dictated by personality and opportunity.
Speaking Individually, How Often and When Is Enough Too Much?
I will never try to establish a hard and fast rule here. For me, I will take every presented opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to people I know are lost. Especially if my interactions with them are rare or few and far between. How often is really just a judgement call. I do not agree with those people I know that think every person you meet or bump into needs you to proclaim the Gospel to them.
Conversely, I will continue to assert that every person you meet needs to hear the Gospel. But you may not be the vessel for the message in that individual’s life. I would also argue that there comes a time when enough is enough. It is less an issue of how often and more an issue of “have you?”.
Some Simple Examples
Consider the Christian parent with children at home. The younger those children are the more they need to hear the Gospel. Every day numerous times! But not in the over-bearing way I did when my children were young.
Or consider the parent with adult children. How often does that parent need to bring the Gospel to bear on their adult child? Or better consider if that adult child grew up in a believing home. Does the parent need to proclaim the Gospel to the child every time they together? I would say no.
How often do we need to proclaim the Gospel to our co-workers or neighbors? Surely, when the chance arises, we should respond. But is it needful to manufacture those moments?
When it comes to the question of when enough is too much I would tread carefully. This is not something I have always managed well. Being human the better part of me is not always on the forefront. As I wrote about in my essay about angry responses, there will be hostile reactions. However, discretion being the better part of valor, it isn’t wrong to stop once you have preached the Gospel. Jesus advocated for walking away.
Alternatively, I do not believe that a person who is truly proclaiming the Gospel can drive an unbeliever away from God. This is one of the most frequent accusations I hear when I am open air preaching. “It’s people like you who give Christians and Jesus a bad name!” (See the video I linked to just above.) I will admit that I am certainly a poor representative of Christianity. That being confessed, I cannot make a God-hating unbeliever hate God any more than they do. In these cases, we need to trust the Holy Spirit to help us know how often and when enough is too much.
Brevity being the better part of wit I am keeping this short. That and Kevin Jandt told me I am a windbag (not really but it is more fun to say it that way.) As with any spiritual discipline and precept, there are parameters and guidelines.
Consequently, a dad who is always out witnessing is likely to fail to disciple his family.
A mother that is constantly harping on her children about their sin and then “preaching the Gospel” is more likely to drive her children away from her home than drawing them into loving intimacy.
My dear friends and my reader(s), please, preach the Gospel. Front Load it into your relationships. Proclaim Christ crucified. And then leave it in God’s hands to save.
Soli Deo Gloria!