Thursday, March 11, 2010


“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

St. Francis of Assisi is given credit for this famous quote (although that exact phrasing does not appear in any of his writings), and a lot of people would think that this is a great philosophy. His actual quote was that everyone should “preach by their deeds.”

Preaching with our deeds is not just a strategy, it is a necessity. We are commanded all through the Scriptures to let our light shine and be a peculiar people. People should be able to look at our lives and see that we are Christians. They should see the love of Christ readily on display, and thus feel compelled to live their lives in the same way. The sermon that we should preach with our lives is a sermon of love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, forgiveness, conviction, etc.

But this idea that has emerged that says we should ONLY preach with our deeds is a heresy straight from the devil himself. Think about it: who is the one that does not want you to tell people about Jesus—God or Satan?

Believers these days are acting as if we are being overly intrusive by asking people if they believe in Jesus. You would think we were working for the Census Bureau the way we have been criticized for asking people about Jesus.

The new trend is to “have a conversation” with people. If the other person brings up religion, maybe we can insert some harmless little pithy Christian statement in there (“God knows our hearts.”). If they don’t bring up religion, then we will mind our own business as to not “force our beliefs” on them. This mindset is OK to postmodern people because they “got a conversation started.” I have tried to understand this way of thinking, but I just don’t see the merit. If these people die, that conversation will not save their souls.

I love the quote from William Booth of the Salvation Army. He said that if Christians could spend just three seconds in hell, then they would have no problem sharing their faith with anyone. Let’s stop with this conversation nonsense and realize that people all around us are headed for a literal, eternal hell

Lost people know what we believe (that they will go to hell if they don’t change), and that we are supposed to love them. For those of us who are so worried about looking like an evangelical or fundamentalist that we never tell them about Jesus, we are actually selling them short. If we don’t tell them about Jesus, they will know we aren’t showing them love and that we are just hypocrites. If we do tell them about Jesus, even if they reject the message, they will see that we are sincere in our belief and our love. This plants a seed that may be cultivated over time; the “conversation” only highlights the fact that we don’t actually love them enough to tell them about their sin, separation from God, and salvation.

We should be preaching with words everywhere we go. "Conversations" should come after we have initiated the subject of Jesus.

Maybe a better quote would be this:

Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, have a conversation.


Andrew's Antics said...

Love the quote and the blog.

Tommy Mann said...

Thanks Drew.

Pastor Brad said...

Awesome! Maybe the quote could go on to say, 'Preach the gospel at all times, and always let your conversation be centered on Christ.' Keep up the good work!

Tommy Mann said...

Brad, I like your idea. The conversation should always be centered on Christ or else we have no hope of seeing them converted. And if or words are not wholesome words than we will do more harm than good.
Preach the Word!

bud said...

My suggestion....

"Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, sit on a stool with your designer shirt and ask permission to share Jesus in a non threatning way."

Tommy Mann said...

Nice one Bud.

The designer shirt is key; probably something blue. Being barefoot is a must too. That is proper attire for giving a talk.

Anonymous said...

I personally believe true love towards the lost is telling them about Jesus Christ and how He loves them and what He did for them. It seems quite opposite of love when we make people feel okay in their sin. As Christians... those who God loves He disciplines. He wants us so badly to turn from our sin because he knows how much it weighs us down verses the freedom we find in Him. In the same way, loving others is wanting them to be free of the burden of sin, which is the root cause of their "situation"

This new "conversation" fad is dangerous. I understand the mindset of wanting to get to know people and their situation and I agree. However, we must tell them about Jesus and let the Holy Sprit do the work. One thing that we can never let happen in these "conversations" (and I'm afraid this is what it's coming to) is an acceptance of one's sin...

"I don't wanna intrude on your lifestyle, but I want to tell you about Jesus"

Jesus tells us what it will take to follow Him. He actually tells us to "count the cost". If people don't like the message, then that's that. But, we still have the responsibility to tell them. They may call us judgmental or give the top excuse in the book.... Christians are hypocrites, but that shouldn't stop us.

May we love 'em and tell 'em, not love em' then tell 'em!

Tommy Mann said...

Alicia, you are right on the money, honey!

A friend of ours just shared about a man he met from another religion. He said he wanted to get to know this guy, and let the guy get to know him, then he would tell him about Jesus. After they got to know each other, that man died in a car accident, and our friend never shared the gospel with him. That is what is SO DANGEROUS about this conversation evangelism.

I try to view every person who I think may be lost as being on fire, because they will be soon. If a person is on fire, you don't have a conversation with them, you put the fire out ASAP because they don't have much time. Their life is as short as a vapor.

I hope this encourages us to stop "talkin' 'bout the rain, and mullin' over things that won't live past today." Let's tell them about Jesus!

Anonymous said..., honey? Nerd alert!

Anonymous said...

"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to impede on the world's sinful cultures and rebellious religions. In fact, I'd call such intrusions a victory, wouldn't you?"

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - Matthew 10:34

"We're not called to be loved but rather to love; and as I've written many times before, telling someone the truth is the most loving thing you can do for them. Jesus already warned us that we would be hated by the world because of Him. If we concern ourselves with what the world thinks of us, we'll never preach the Gospel, will we?"

"I would much rather offend someone with the truth to help clarify the way to Heaven than coddle and comfort them with the corrupt quietness of conciliation and compromise on their way to Hell."

-Paul Proctor

"But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts." - 1st Thessalonians 2:4

Anonymous said...

'nother good one.

"Postmodernism exaggerates the difficulties we have in communicating with one another. This is perhaps most amusingly demonstrated when postmoderns accuse their reviewers of not really reading their books closely and carefully. In other words, in spite of their theories, postmoderns expect their critics to treat their published works fairly, in line with their authorial intent as displayed in their text, although this runs against some of their postmodern claims."

bmann24 said...

What does this last quote mean? I thought a postmodern was someone born after like 1980 or the generation of people processing information differently than the people of the previous generation. Who are the critics of the current generation? and what has everyone in the postmodern generation written that is being reviewed by people from the modern generation? I don't get this quote at all......

Tommy Mann said...

I think this quote refers more to the postmodern church (or emergent church) instead of the postmodern generation. I think it is about the postmodern theologians.

Tommy Mann said...

In the context of the blog about evangelism, I think the quote is referring to how the emergent church criticizes Christians for sharing their faith.

Whenever a Christian tries to encourage people to change their life, like how Jesus did with the woman at the well, the emergent Christians call us too hateful, too judgmental, or legalistic. But if we try to say that their methods are too soft and hands-off, they say we think we are better than them.

The quote, in my opinion, is showing the double-standard. That has nothing to do with you, just a generalization about postmodern evangelism.

bmann24 said...

ooohhh ok...ya. There are a few in the emerging church that have kinda gone off the deep end (Brian McClaren being the most famous).

And whoa...I just looked up this Paul Proctor and read one article ( ) and I must say this had to be the most coldhearted, insensitive, dare I say unchristian thing I may have ever read coming from a Christian. I shouldn't judge him from one article, but he seems very mean-spirited. What will he think when (God forbid) personal tragedy strikes his own life? He needs to read Luke 13:1-5 or the story of the man born blind-not because of sin- and hold off on speaking confidently for God about pastors (or anyone else) dying because of their sin. He almost sounds happy about it....kinda sad

bmann24 said...

Sorry. I don't mean to be all down on this Proctor fellow. I'm sure he is just, like the rest of us, trying to be faithful to God the best way he knows how. I'm sure he's a good man who loves God. Didn't mean to be negative about him

Tommy Mann said...

Yeah, that did sound pretty bitter. He should not have mentioned Pastor Lake at all.

It would have been a good article if he never mentioned Lake. If you subtract the rejoicing over the death of a pastor it had good points. That disappointed me because he missed his chance to effectively say something good.

He is right--Paul would not win any awards for Pastor of the Year the way most churches operate today. Paul was bold and confrontational, always quick to point out sin. So was Peter. Today we are told to be passive and allow the love of God to change lives. Paul was, without a doubt, the best missionary ever, and we don't see him being passve. But if anybody preaches like him today they are accused of being judgmental and hateful. But Paul preached the way he did because he loved people.

And there is nothing wrong with being negative about a man who is glad that a pastor died. Paul called out people by name in his public letters because what they did was wrong. This way everyone could learn, not just the ones who were wrong. I believe Joel Osteen's health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is sending people to hell, and there is nothing wrong with pointing that out. This live and let live idea says that we don't care who goes to hell, as long as we don't ruffle any feathers. By the way, Osteen said Hindus go to heaven because they are sincere, and that is what matters to God--this will snd people to hell and must be exposed. He is a pharisee, and Jesus exposed their heresy.

I'm not advocating putting someone through the wringer over ties or drums in the church, but on serious matters of theology we must speak up.

Tommy Mann said...

By the way, back near the top I mentioned about a friend's experience about not sharing his faith when he could have. For the record, I want to say that this is a guy who passionately loves the Lord and is a very faithful witness for God. I didn't use that illustration to pick on him, but to show how important each encounter is (and because he shared that story publicly, or else I would not have used it).