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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Friendship evangelism

by Nelson Roth
In the early years of my ministry, my evangelism experiences placed an emphasis on the “go” of “making disciples”.  Evangelism was winning souls, that meant handing out tracts, talking to strangers, and presenting what we called the Romans road.  The process usually started out with a question like - “If you were to die today, do you know where you would spend eternity?”

God in many cases blessed and used this method.  There were new converts that were baptized who then truly continued to follow Christ.  There were also many who prayed a prayer and as far as I know, that was it.  I never saw them again.  I’m sure that it was also possible that there were others who felt offended because of the approach, turned off, and as a result missed the love and grace that God wanted them to experience.

Then it happened, our evangelism world was rocked.  We started to hear about “friendship evangelism”.  It’s actually funny now that this approach seemed so radical then.  “What? Take the time to make friends?”  I thought.  I actually resisted with the justification that, “Jesus is coming back and making this important decision is urgent for people!”

There were books, like Life-Style Evangelism written by Joseph Aldridge back in 1981 and workshop titles like my friend Dan Woodard who wrote and taught Building Bridges,  that broke ground for this new way of winning souls.  Also, during this transition process I picked up this slogan from somewhere that had an impact on me - “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Moving forward to today, I’ve come to see that relationship that’s genuine with others is essential in this matter of introducing others to God’s love and His redemption provided through His Son, Jesus Christ.

This new way shifted responsibility for the outcome.  I learned that as I did my right part, that I had One in partnership who would do His.  Now Jesus’ words in John 6:44 make sense, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

How does relational evangelism sound to you?

It’s really about living life on mission 24/7.  Genuinely making friends and growing relationships with others.  Letting the light of Christ shine in our daily routines.  Then, taking opportunity to share when it’s invited.  Also, not leaving out being direct at the right times when we’ve earned the right to do so.  Because, “How can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14.

Who could you begin to become genuine with like this in a relationship that already exists?

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15

Evangelism is one of the evidences of what Relevant Ministry calls - the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health".  RM Coaching helps to assess all 7 Marks, providing an insightful check-up for personal spiritual health.  The RM team is writing about all 7 Marks, focusing on one topic a month with a new Blog article each week.  The topic this month is Evangelism.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

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RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

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