Arthur Stace was born in 1884 in Sydney, Australia. Stace was born into a very poor family and had a rough life growing up. He spent some time in jail and was an alcoholic for the majority of his adult life. One day, in 1930, Stace stumbled his way into a church service and heard the words of the gospel preached. The message was entitled, “The Echoes of Eternity.” It was through hearing this message of eternity that Arthur Stace was converted and came to know Jesus. Stace was so inspired by the sermon that, after his conversion, he would write the word, “eternity” on the sidewalks in chalk everywhere he went throughout Sydney. Even though he was illiterate and could not even write his own name, he learned how to write the word “eternity” and shared the word at every opportunity. This was Stace’s way of spreading the gospel.
Let’s just face it. Evangelism is a tough thing to do. Whether you’re preaching on the street or sharing with a friend or neighbor, evangelism takes guts and courage. There is no sure-fire way to evangelize, and sharing Jesus effectively often requires a vastly different approach to reach different people. However, regardless of the method, there is only one true message that needs to be preached: the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Your gospel is too small
So what does gospel-centered evangelism looks like? One of the biggest problems when it comes to evangelism today is that the gospel that is preached is way too small. If we, as Christians, truly believe that the gospel is so powerful, wonderful, and deep that even angels look into the mysterious depths of it (1 Pet. 1:12), then why is it that we tend not to preach this immeasurable message when evangelizing? In the name of being relational and “seeker friendly,” we can often leave out vital elements of true gospel preaching. When we water down the gospel to make it less offensive to our audience, it loses its power completely.
The gospel at the center
Christians need to recover the foundational truths that made Christianity revolutionary. Our evangelism must be focused solely on the message that God saves sinners through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the personal and powerful message that must be declared. Keeping the gospel at the center is what true Christian evangelism is about. If the gospel truly is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), then we must constantly proclaim its redemptive message and keep it central in all of our evangelism. This cannot be overemphasized.
Shaping the gospel
The beautiful thing about the gospel is that it is both simple and complex. It is both elementary and advanced. The gospel is for people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. It is the only message that can save. However, it is a message that can be conveyed and communicated in many different ways.
This is why the gospel is so amazing! It is for both the insider and the outcast. It is for both the child and the intellectual. Shaping our gospel presentation is a key part of evangelizing to the lost. Knowing your audience is absolutely vital when presenting the gospel to unbelievers. It can be presented in either a simple or complex way depending on whom you are speaking with. Gospel-centered evangelism will always make an effort to convey the message of good news in a way that is most appropriate for its audience.
An eternal impact
Now let’s return to our story about Arthur Stace. It is estimated that, over a thirty-five year period, Arthur wrote the word “eternity” on the sidewalks of Sydney, Australia over 500,000 times. At times, police would tell him to stop, but Arthur would calmly respond, “I’ve got permission from a higher source.” Stace passed away in 1967. Thirty-three years later, to celebrate the year 2000, the city counselors of Sydney met together to decide on a message they could put up on the Sydney Bridge to ring in the new millennium. It had to be something that really described their city. In honor of Stace, the counselors decided on the word “eternity.”Arthur Stace was a man who truly new what gospel-centered evangelism looked like. He was illiterate and could not even write his own name, yet Stace found a way to continue evangelizing thirty-three years after his death. Oh, what a glorious display of gospel-centered evangelism!