Church Planting Essentials – Appropriate Evangelism

Appropriate Evangelism is the combination of the message of the Bible and the life of a Believer lived in obedience as a testimony to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many evangelism techniques focus on only one aspect of evangelism – personal testimony or the witness of the Word.  Appropriate Evangelism incorporates the witness of the Word and the living testimony of a transformed life.  Appropriate Evangelism is sensitive to the worldview/culture of the hearer/observer and answers in a loving way any questions that may arise from worldview issues and cultural barriers.
 

Appropriate Evangelism is a relationship process that is unique to each situation.  It is not a hit and run method, but an intentional relationship building that includes knowing one spiritually.  You do not really know a person until you know their spiritual life.  Appropriate Evangelism is about friendship, care, and ministry that incorporates living the Gospel and speaking the Gospel boldly and without apology.
 

Appropriate Evangelism begins with a Disciple who loves the Lord with all his/her heart, soul, mind and strength.  This is a Disciple who is passionate about Christ; has an eternal and consistent devotion to the Lord; has a lifestyle that is thoughtful and is an example of the transforming power of Christ; and demonstrates a transformed life through ministry that meets the needs of those around him/her.  This Disciple is obedient to the Word of God, and is consistently and conspicuously spiritual in public and private, and loves people. 
 

Do not confuse spirituality with religion.  Spirituality is about a relationship with God that is personal, honest and open.  Spirituality is about following Christ in all matters.  Spirituality is about striving to be obedient regardless of the situation or circumstances in which one finds himself or herself.  Spirituality is about being obedient even when the consequences of being obedient may not be advantageous.  Spirituality is about a love for Christ that changes everything about you for the better.  Spirituality is a process of becoming, not a destination.  Spirituality is not about being perfect; it’s about the struggle to be like Christ.
 

Religion is a chosen public expression of spirituality.  It includes worship, a public identity with a like-minded others, and avenues by which individuals can join their resources and have a greater impact on the community.  Religion is something you can join.  Spirituality is something you are.  You can fake religion, becoming obnoxiously religious.  Most obnoxiously religious people are fakers, aka hypocrites.  You can join a religion without being spiritual, or by faking spirituality.  You cannot fake spirituality for long, unless you isolate yourself from people, denying them access to your private life and thoughts.  A spiritual person invites people to know them in their private lives as well as in their public lives, and the private and public lives are the same.
 

For a spiritual person, evangelism is not about making a convert to one’s religion.  Appropriate Evangelism is about relationships that are giving, caring and real.  It begins with ministry – the meeting of needs.  It continues in friendship – getting to know one another and each other’s families.  It moves to an intentional revealing of one’s spiritual life and inner being.  As spiritual conversation develops there is an intentional sharing of the Word of God in order to reveal the nature of God, the nature of Man, and God’s provision for salvation.  When possible, this becomes formalized in a regular Bible study with the friend and his/her family.
 

This Discovery Bible Study intentionally puts selected passages and narratives from the Bible before your friends for their consideration.  You do not need to “teach” them.  You simple let them read or listen to the Word and ask them what this tells us about God, man, man’s relationship to God, and etc.  It is important that you do not teach, but ask questions that allow your friends to discover for themselves a God who loves them, wants a relationship with them, and has provided a way for this relationship to happen.
 

A Discovery Bible Study does not have to be long or even be a meeting.  On a daily basis you can say to your friends, coworkers, or classmates, “I learned something interesting about God, today.”  Wait for them to ask you what you learned.  This gives you permission to share.  Then quote or read the passage to them.  Don’t give your opinion.  Ask them what they think the passage means.  Let it become a topic of conversation.
 

If God is at work in these situations, over the course of months you will spend hours in spiritual discussion with your friends.  Water cooler talks or hallway conversations will turn into semi-formal studies of the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit will use His Word and begin the process of transforming a person from not knowing God to falling in love with Him through Jesus Christ, His only provision for a relationship with the Creator.
 

Appropriate Evangelism is not a method.  It’s a lifestyle.  It’s about being real.  It’s about genuinely caring for people.  It’s about being obedient.  It’s about changing our world.
 

Blessings!
 

David Watson
From Southeast Asia

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