There are two primary reasons why newly born-again Christians are far more successful evangelists than established Christians. The first is logical. The second may unsettle you.
1. New Christians usually have much greater access to and influence with non-Christian people. An established Christian can try hard to take time to develop relationships with outsiders – and may in time successfully win someone to Christ. We should all endeavor to do this. But a new convert already has these relationships in place! They can immediately witness to and see their close friends come to Christ! For a real conversion movement or revival to take place there invariably must be recent conversions already in plain view of many lost persons.
Sadly, there is an almost universal principle that works against this movement: the longer a person has been a Christian, the more likely that he/she has developed a primary circle of friends that is exclusively Christian.
Or stated another way, “Our light most usually is shining in the presence of light.” Light cannot be as readily perceived in the presence of equal or greater light. Just try to use your flashlight outdoors on a sunlit afternoon. You will not even recognize its energy. But turn on your flashlight at the midnight hour and what happens? Everyone for a quarter-mile sees the effect.
New Christians have a closer proximity to those who need Christ. Thus, they are instantly better positioned to witness to Christ’s saving power and presence. All the more reason to at all costs find ways to win new people to Christ. The firstfruits of new harvests become the catalysts of the full harvest.
2. Older Christians usually substitute doctrine and theology for the living reality and presence of Christ now. Certainly it is a good thing to have good theology and doctrine. But it is NOT good theology that in and of itself saves anyone! People are saved only if they come in contact with the living Christ. I’m not trying to be controversial or anti-intellectual here. I think we can all agree that just because someone has been taught orthodox Christian beliefs does not mean that they are regenerated people. Right?
There actually is a difference between proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the fundamentals of Christianity. While both can happen (and should happen) simultaneously, they usually don’t.
This can be illustrated by considering the difference between a proselyte and a real convert. A proselyte is someone who has intellectually been convinced to accept a new set of teachings. A convert is someone who has encountered an inner regeneration that comes from meeting a living Savior.
A brand new Christian, who was only recently bound by sin and living without God in this world, has now been awakened to Christ’s love and grace and power. He has this unexplainable peace permeating his soul. She has never felt so deeply happy or satisfied. These new believers may not have theological jargon to explain what has happened. But they can witness to the Living Christ. And it is this witness to the Living Christ that characterizes the most essential meaning of Gospel proclamation!
Preaching the gospel is not primarily to be looked at like a seminar, teaching, or lecture. To preach the gospel is like accompanying your amazing Friend, who is a Great Physician, to meet and minister to your old sick friends. You are acutely aware of His presence and power in your life – right now. And you believe that He is just as inclined to do for them – right now – what He has done for you. And that confidence and exuberance is persuasive.
New Christians do not put their confidence in their learning or their training. They don’t have any! They put their confidence in the reality of the Christ who has saved them and who is there with them each moment. And this puts them at an advantage over older believers who have shifted their confidence from the Person of Christ to their knowledge about Him. Mind you, this shift does not have to occur. But you will have to fight against it like the plague!
But when this shift does occur, and it usually does at some point, it could be likened to a form of brainwashing! We move from real New Covenant life in the Spirit of Christ and succumb to a covenant of letters on paper. People then begin to think that what unbelievers most essentially need is a transfer of information. While information is very important it is not ultimate. The good news is a Person, not just a set of historical facts! Jesus said concerning the scribes and Pharisees,
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
The information is only good news IF it leads people to personally encounter, trust, and know Christ. What people who are dead in sin first need is new Life. And this can happen with one touch from the Master. Yes, God is well-pleased to convey His presence and power through the proclamation of truth in the Gospel. I am not saying that words do not matter. Just never forget that it is ultimately a living Person that you are proclaiming. If your words are not conveying an urgency and nearness of the Savior, then your preaching may actually keep men from Christ. People may convert to your form of teaching and never meet the Living Savior.
These people then become the reason the world mocks our faith. For they speak of faith but do not manifest the life and love of the Living Christ.