By Thabiti Anyabwile
The local church functions like a gospel-spreading co-op. In fact, that seems to be what the apostle Paul had in mind when he praised God for the Philippian church, who shared or partnered with him in the gospel (Phil. 1:4–5). Even while Paul was in chains, the Philippian Christians continued the work of spreading the testimony about Jesus.
Likewise, when we are limited in some way in our evangelistic efforts, our brothers and sisters in Christ may be used by the Lord to advance His message to our Muslim friends. Such cooperative evangelism can speak the truth about Jesus’ mission, even when we find ourselves at a loss for words. We need words to communicate the gospel, but those words should be set like a diamond in the gold setting of the local church.
Contemporary Christianity tends to view the work of evangelism in terms of a person’s method of convincing others to “make a decision” to follow Christ. It’s not my purpose here to complete a review of evangelistic methods employed by any particular individuals or organizations. But I do hope to point out something that has been lost in so much writing about and practice of evangelism: the local church.
It seems clear that Jesus intends the local church to be an aid, not a hindrance, to witnessing to others. In John 13:34–35, the Lord states, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (italics added).
Notice the Master intends that the love shared between Christian disciples be so radical and tangible that “all men” will be able to see that we are followers of Jesus. Love distinguishes genuine disciples of Christ from the “Christian culture” or the heritage of Western society. A community of love across ethnic, cultural, and age distinctions testifies powerfully to the truth of the gospel.
This means that membership and involvement in a local church make the work of evangelism significantly easier. Displaying Christian love becomes easier when living out the faith with those not like you instead of trying to do it alone or in small clusters of people with the same background as yourself.
Likewise, Christian unity makes it easier to demonstrate that our claims about Jesus aren’t individual idiosyncrasies. We follow Jesus not because we’re odd people but because He is Lord of all, and our unity across natural boundaries reveals this.
How can we use our local church effectively in the effort to lovingly introduce our Muslim neighbors to Jesus Christ?
- Invite your Muslim friends to join you at church services and other gatherings. Don’t give in to the false stereotype that says Muslims will not be interested in coming to church. Some won’t, but many will. Kindly invite them. Repeatedly invite them. Have confidence that the Lord will use His people to convey the truth about Jesus.
- Start a prayer group with friends at church. Evangelism and conversion require our most fervent prayers. Meeting regularly with others to talk about our witnessing opportunities and to ask the Lord’s blessing provides the power needed to turn hearts and to make us bold in sharing.
- Pray for the preaching of the gospel in your local church. Your pastor needs the prayers of his people. Pray that the Bible would have a lasting impact on the person’s own soul and that the Lord would bless the preaching with power to save the lost.
- Organize social events with friends from church that include Muslim friends. Consider a Christmas tea where someone shares the gospel briefly and perhaps a word of encouragement. Organize an outing after a Sunday morning service. Invite non-Christians to the service and to the outing afterward. Be sure to discuss the service and answer questions that might be raised. Start an evangelistic Bible study specifically for Muslims, involving a couple of others from the church as well.
- 3 Steps to Engaging Muslims in Your Community
- Some American Muslims Leave Islam, But Protestant Converts Often Replace Them
- Room to Listen: We Reach Others by Truly Hearing Them
THABITI ANYABWILE (@ThabitiAnyabil) serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church in Washington, D.C. In his book The Gospel for Muslims, Thabiti, who is himself a convert from Islam to Christianity, discusses how to share the good news of Christ with your Muslim neighbors and friends.
Adapted from The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence by Thabiti Anyabwile (©2018). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.