The first time that I heard the term Evangelism  Explosion,” I was confused. It seemed to me that  explosions cause destruction. Then, I pictured another  kind of explosion: that which takes place in the motor  block of a diesel engine or a gasoline motor. The explosion  in the chamber pushes a piston, thereby moving a rod and  turning an axle. And the result is power. This is not the  power to destroy, but to restore and to build.

Everything I heard about “Evangelism Explosion,” I liked. It  was based on personal evangelism that was organized so that a  small church, or even a Sunday School class, could reach out  to personally tell people the Good News about the Messiah.

In recent times, we’ve seen many shrinking  churches and yet there’s much talk about  church planting. It seems to me that it’s a  waste of energy to plant churches where  many already exist. Why not use that  energy to develop and grow the present  churches, rather than establishing new  churches to watch the older churches die?  But the problem seems to be: there simply  is not enough strength, energy or power.

Unfortunately, some of the established churches don’t  want to be disturbed by something as loud as an evangelism  explosion. But if churches are to experience healthy growth,  it’s going to take some kind of explosive release of energy  as in the day of Pentecost we read about in Acts 2.

God has established a priority plan of evangelism. Every  building plan has steps. The starting place for the church is  to bring the gospel to the Jew first. That priority is seen in  Romans 1:16. I don’t mean that no one in a community  should hear the gospel until the Jews have all heard it; I  mean that Paul set an evangelism pattern for a reason. This  Apostle to the Gentiles did not have it backward when he  went to the Jew first. In coming to a community, he began  his ministry at the synagogue, and whether he was received  with enthusiasm or found his message rejected in anger, for  some reason, it was the place of power: it got people  moving; it made the gospel an issue in the community.

Today’s churches face a problem: many lack the strength,  energy or power to make Jesus Christ an issue to any  unbelievers. Some mistakenly think that we need to avoid  confrontation, that if we make it our priority to avoid offending  our non-Christian neighbors, if we are careful to be likeable in  their eyes, they will naturally allow themselves to listen to us,  and even allow us to influence their religious thought.

Nothing could be further from the truth. “But the natural  man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for  they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because  they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Our priority is to make Jesus Christ an issue. No matter how  pleasantly we speak, no matter how soft our words, no  matter how great our love and our concern—effective  evangelism will bring a reaction before it brings a  response. If we insist on avoiding that  reaction, we avoid making Jesus an issue  and the church becomes a club of nice  people who enjoy singing together.

I don’t think one could know a person a  half day without realizing that the  person was a Muslim, and that he had a  commitment to pray at certain times. I don’t  think that one could go through a mealtime  with a Buddhist and fail to realize that because of  her religion, she won’t eat certain foods. The strong  convictions of most people aren’t far below the surface. We don’t help ourselves or other people by keeping quiet about  our own convictions.

For the true, committed Christian, Christ isn’t in the back of  our minds, the back of our hearts. If we are just being  ourselves, we can’t help but speak of Him, and what He’s  doing for us. So much of what we have and what we’re able  to do is because of Christ’s empowerment—so that it is the  normal, natural thing for Him to be part of many discussions.

One can speak of the gospel, mention Christ, show respect  and uphold Him in such a way that people can know that  they are also respected, loved and appreciated.

The power of evangelism is explosive. If it destroys  anything, it is our delusions of self-sufficiency. But it  builds an understanding of Jesus, and through Him, an  understanding of God’s forgiveness and grace.