2000-11-15 - Personal Evangelism
In my 11-01-2000 devotional, I tried to make two points: (1) We are all called
to spread the Gospel and (2) we must first take a good look at our own walk
with Christ before we can be effective witnesses for Him. This week I want
to look at six different approaches to evangelism that are found in the Bible.
My prayer is that you can get your hands around one of these approaches and
use it to help spread the good news of Christ to people in your world.
Jesus' plan was really simple: Save one soul at a time, life by life by
John 9:25 (NIV) He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or
not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Here we find a blind man
who has been healed by Jesus. The Pharisees are interrogating the man and
his family about Jesus. They do not believe that the man was once blind or
that Jesus had miraculously healed him. The man's testimony was simply the
truth. It was his story. It was not a theological debate, but a simple, "all
I know is that I was once blind, but now I see!"
I think most of us have stories that are natural to tell. After all, you
are telling what happened to you. Sometimes all it takes when talking to
a struggling nonbelieving friend is an encouraging testimony. You may say,
"I know how empty, how lonely, how unfulfilled, etc. you feel. I once felt
that way, but since I started believing in Jesus, my life has not been the
same. I was once blind; now I see."
John 4:28-30 (NIV) Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the
town and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever
did. Could this be the Christ?" They came out of the town and made their
way toward him.
In this passage, we find the Samaritan woman who had an encounter with Jesus
by the well, inviting the town's people to the well to meet the Messiah.
This approach to evangelism is one of the least threatening and among the
most readily accepted by nonbelievers. You simply invite them to your church.
It may be a Sunday Service, a mid-week Bible study or a special music program.
Acts 9:36 (LB) In the city of Joppa there was a woman named Dorcas ("Gazelle"),
a believer who was always doing kind things for others, especially for the
God wired some people up, to love serving others. Dorcas was one of those
people. Kind acts for other people, with nothing expected in return, seem
to be becoming less and less common these days. I love taking my kids to
the homeless shelter and serving food. Invariably someone will ask, "why
do you do this?" We do it because we believe in doing what the Bible commands
us to do. We serve out of gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. There
are countless numbers of opportunities for service in your community. Let
others see Christ working through you.<
The Matthew Party Approach
Luke 5:29 (LB) Soon Levi held a reception in his home with Jesus as the guest
of honor. Many of Levi's fellow tax collectors and other guests were there.
After Matthew became a follower of Christ, he gave a party and invited all
of his old friends and his new Christ-following friends to meet Jesus and
each other. Matthew's approach is an interpersonal approach. It works well
for those who enjoy spending a lot of time with people, developing mutual
trust and deep relationships. Through this trust they are able to weave their
faith into the lost people around them. My next-door neighbors had a "Matthew
Party" during a snowstorm last year. They invited all the neighbors over
for stew and hot chocolate. The husband said a wonderful prayer and the dinner
conversation was low-key, but Christ found His way into the conversations
often. I am sure that dinner has had an impact on some of our nonbelieving
neighbors. Be creative and think of ways to have "Matthew parties" IF that
is a style of evangelism that suits your personality.
Peter's Confrontational Approach
Acts 2:14 (LB) Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven apostles and shouted
to the crowd, "Listen, all of you, visitors and residents of Jerusalem alike!"
While Peter is one of my favorites in the Bible, I am not sure if he is someone
that I would pal around with. Peter was a very in-your-face kind of guy.
God wired him up that way, and used Peter's personality in Acts 2 to deliver
a very confrontational sermon that resulted in over 3,000 people being saved.
But this approach is a very specialized one. It should done only (1) if you
have this gift from God and (2) if the person being confronted will respond
only to this style of evangelism. I have used this style only once in my
life. It was on a very confrontational person and as God would have it, it
succeeded with this particular person. Some people have the gift of this
confrontational approach but unfortunately use it at the wrong times on the
wrong people. I cringe when I hear someone shouting to every passerby, "turn
or burn!" I have had some people complain to me that they do not want anything
to do with Christianity because the Christians that they know are so obnoxious
and annoying. If you do use Peter's approach, use it with much care.
Acts 17:2 (LB) As was Paul's custom, he went there to
preach, and for three Sabbaths in a row he opened the Scriptures to the people,
3explaining the prophecies about the sufferings of the Messiah and his coming
back to life, and proving that Jesus is the Messiah. Some who listened were
persuaded and became converts-including a large number of godly Greek men
and also many important women of the city.
Obviously Paul was a gifted intellectual. God used his intellect to reach
the "smart" people of Thessalonica. Some of my doctor friends are very natural
in using this approach with their associates. Very calculated and logical-minded
people need a very detailed explanation about whom Jesus is. They hardly
ever would respond to the testimonial approach. Instead, they need facts
before they find real faith.
Well, this devotional has gone on longer than I anticipated. I hope you have
stayed with me this far. Again, take a good look at your life. Try to live
out a consistent, authentic Christlike life. Find a style of evangelism that
fits your personality. Pray for God to place a lost person in your life.
And most importantly, just be you. Be the person that God made you to be.
Father, thank You so much for your practical Word. Thank
You for making each of us unique. Help us to understand how You want us to
help You in spreading Your Word, life by life by life. In Christ's name,