I know it is not my duty as a “lay-person” to evangelise (though it is my duty to be a witness for Christ, cf. PCC Bulletin, Vol. 1, Nos. 41 , 43 dated 9, 23 April 2000). Does this mean that all I should do when I go out “tracting” is to give out the tracts and avoid saying anything that may appear like I am preaching to anyone?

Let me begin by trying to clear some confusion. Note that when we say it is not the duty of a lay-person to evangelise, we are using the term “evangelise” and “duty” in a restricted sense. We are saying that one who has not been ordained as a preacher of the Gospel is not guilty of the sin of omission if he does not go out into the streets, say, once a week to “share” or preach the Gospel. In other words, we are talking about evangelism as being synonymous to the act of preaching, and duty as referring to what God has commanded us to do. It is the duty of man to pray (Lk 18:1). Prayerlessness is sin. But it is not the duty of Christians to go out into the streets to preach the Gospel, much less to get sinners to make decisions for Christ.

That said, we must note that the commission to preach the Gospel is given to the church (Mt 28:19–20), and it is the duty of every Christian to be involved in this work of evangelism by all means, be it by prayer, by supporting the ministry with material means, by tracting or by bringing others to church to hear the preaching of the Word.

With this in mind, it would not be difficult to see that we need not feel restricted in any way when we are talking to others. Why should we restrain ourselves from speaking to others about their sin and about their need of a Saviour? Why should we refrain from speaking about Christ our Saviour when the opportunity arises? Indeed, why should we condemn anyone who goes out into the streets every week to tell others about Christ to urge them to come to seek the Saviour? We do not agree that anyone should ever coerce a sinner to pray to receive the Lord, for salvation does not come through a simple prayer as some para-church groups may teach. Neither do we think that anyone needs to feel guilty if he or she is not going out every week to witness in the streets. But if a faithful believer feels moved to spend some time talking to strangers or friends and relatives about the Saviour, we should praise the Lord for the zeal, and we should learn from the example of zeal.

Indeed, I would rather that more of us be moved to verbally witness for Christ whenever the opportunity arises, than that we be stifled by a fear of saying the wrong things when talking to unbelievers. It is my prayer that we will live our lives so unashamed of Christ that His name drops freely from our lips even when we talk to unbelievers. But if for some reasons some of us do not find it easy to speak of Christ and His wondrous grace in our day-to-day conversation, then I would rather we discipline ourselves to go out regularly to speak to strangers than to remain mum about Christ. No, we may not coerce the church to do so by making it sound like it is a duty of every believer; or to give the impression that anyone who does not do so is a second-rate Christian. But we ought to encourage one another to use what few talents the Lord has given us for the defence, confirmation and furtherance of the Gospel, without feeling in any way inhibited.

Again, experience has shown that of all the unbelievers who come to seek the Lord in the church (not just in PCC), those who stay on are usually relatives or friends of members of the church. Therefore, members of the church should place great priority on witnessing by words to relatives and friends, and inviting them to seek the Lord with us (without discounting the importance of the witnessing by a godly life, cf. 1 Pet 3:1). But if for some reason we find it hard to do so, should we not rather make up for our lack of opportunity to be active witnesses for the Lord by exercising ourselves to speak for Him to strangers? Who knows if one of the strangers might be an elect sheep still outside the fold.