9. Evangelism is only possible when the community that evangelizes–the church–is a radiant manifestation of the Christian faith and exhibits an attractive lifestyle.
By “attractive lifestyle”, Bosch means that the credibility of our message depends on our living. We must live the gospel while proclaiming the gospel. The content of our proclamation constantly checks and reproves our own manner of life. If we say that the divine life has power to change a man, and someone looks inside the church and sees that no one has changed, our message may be undermined.
If the church is to impart to the world a message of hope and love, of faith, justice and peace, something of this should become visible, audible, and tangible in the church itself.
–David J Bosch, p. 414
“Preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” This quote is usually attributed to St. Francis of Assisi (whether he said it or not is beside the point right now. Someone apparently eventually said it.) and despite the fact that, YES, the gospel ultimately requires words (Rom. 10:14), the quote makes a good point if it’s understood correctly. The point is that the gospel shouldn’t be something that is merely on our lips; it is also in our life. We not only speak Christ, but live Christ. Noah not only was a herald of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5), he WAS a righteous man (Gen. 6:9). His living backed up his speaking.
Adorning the Gospel
Two passages that connect our living with our proclamation come to mind.
Philippians 2:15-16 says:
That you may be blameless and guileless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life…
Titus 2:10, speaking about the conduct of slaves, says:
Not pilfering, but showing all good faithfulness that they may adorn the teaching of our Savior God in all things.
The power and effectiveness of our gospel lies in the brightness and beauty of our living.
- Evangelism and Mission (lifeandbuilding.com)
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching – Francis of Assisi