Thursday, January 19, 2012

Evangelism 101

Sharing the gospel with the kids of San Soucci, SA
A few weeks ago, we started a series on evangelism entitled: ENGAGE. The series is basically oriented around becoming a more missional church and being a people that is on mission with God. To quote Brad House, a pastor at Mars Hill Church: "God's story frames our story, if the Trinity is on mission (seeking the lost), then you cannot be in God's story without being on mission with him".

Throughout the Bible, God is always seeking lost people and he is seeking them with the aspiration of . In the Old Testament, Jerusalem stood out as a holy city (or was supposed to... they seriously "Chicago Cub'd" it ) and was supposed to live in such stark contrast to the surrounding areas that men would come to them. But in the New Testament, this has kind of been flipped. The church has been commissioned to go out and make disciples, not to wait for disciples to come and find them.

So that's all well and good from a theoretical standpoint, but what does that mean practically? Well first it means that we need to be seeking to build relationships with lost people (people who have not trusted in Christ). But it also means that we need to be abe to communicate the gospel when the time comes.

Here are a list of the Main Evangelism Strategies:

Proclamational Evangelism: you see this strategy quite a bit in the New Testament but not as much today. It involves preaching the gospel from a pulpit, soapbox, street corner, stage... wherever lots of people can hear you.
    • Pros: Many, many people can trust in Christ.
    • Cons: There's very little room for follow up and the "confession of faith" may be unclear.

Relational Evangelism: involves building a relationship with someone and overtime giving showing them the effects of the gospel, the love of Christ, and gradually addressing their questions and concerns. All relational strategies have to become aggressive at some point or the person will ultimately remain lost.
    • Pros: A strong relationship is developed and built which could feed directly into discipleship. There is plenty of room for follow up and potential pitfalls can be addressed.
    • Cons: It takes quite a bit of time to develop the relationship and it does not reach large groups of people. It can also communicate a lack of urgency.

Aggressive Evangelism: taking someone down the "Roman Road" or some other form of gospel presentation with the intention of offering an invitation for them to trust in Christ.
    • Pros: It communicates a sense of urgency and the need to repent and believe is evident. If a lost person has questions they can ask at any point.
    • Cons: There is not as much room for follow up. Many people find this mode intimidating especially if they don't know you.

Written Evangelism: Giving someone a tract, letter, brochure, or personal testimony that walks them through the gospel with the intention of bringing them to trust in Christ.
    • Pros: Ensures that the gospel is communicated clearly. Allow the lost person to go back and reexamine the information that they've been given.
    • Cons: Is pretty impersonal and many times a lost person may not read the information and simply throw it away.

Remember, the point of a "strategy" is to lead them to Christ. That means that you shouldn't "have" a specific strategy, you should use whichever one works best for that person. The purpose isn't to win some intellectual argument or even to answer all of their questions. The purpose is to lead them to the cross and to the feet of the Savior. Evangelism isn't about us and our preferences, it's about God.

Lastly, I encourage you to get to know people. Find out where they are on their spiritual journey by simply asking: "where are you on your spiritual journey". Use the Bible (God always says it better than we can), keep Christ central, and trust Him with the results. And remember to speak graciously and to pray continuously. It is the Spirit alone who gives life.

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