This video, an interview with Dr. Tim Keller on Evangelism in the 21st Century, is full of practical wisdom about evangelism.
I thought it would be worth watching and discussing together:
Some quotes from Tim Keller:
Word ministry and deed ministry go hand-in-hand. In fact, if one side outpaces the other, it all fall apart.
At the individual level and the relational level, you can see why the two things just go together. You can’t love your friend without talking about Jesus and you can’t love your friend without babysitting for her so she can visit her son in jail and so on.
The very first lay ministry behavior is you let people know you go to church… if you don’t do that, you can’t do anything else.
The next… let people know that you are a Christian and it means something to you.
A lot of behaviors… lead in a very organic way to more extensive, more in depth kinds of discussions. But you should be doing the simplest behaviors first. Loving people, caring for people, being a person of integrity, letting people know your Christian faith is there, and then it will just bubble up naturally.
The big cities are so diverse, which means, there is no one way to share the gospel. You have to learn how to share the gospel differently with different people.
Contextualization, I think, largely means ‘different order.’…Let’s say there are twenty essential truths of the gospel. But in what order do you roll them out?
Confidence in the gospel comes through two kinds of personal experience… In my own life, there are areas of fear, areas of shame that crippled me until I came to understand how faith in the gospel, and what Jesus Christ has done, applied by faith, applied in prayer, was the solution. I had breakthroughs because I realized salvation by grace means I don’t have to do this, I don’t have to do this, I don’t have to be cowed by this, I don’t have to be bound by this. Breakthrough! I’m being very general because I want everybody to experience this for themselves. And I don’t want to give you my testimony even though some of you would probably like it, in order that, I don’t want anybody to say, “well, that’s not me.” Because I don’t care who you are, the gospel has to, you have to see breakthroughs through belief in the gospel in your own life, for you to get confidence.
The second thing you need to do is you need to see it through your own ministry. You need to see a couple people who you know, they never would have made it, their marriage wouldn’t have made it, there never would have gotten out of a life of incarceration, they never would have overcome this or that, except for the gospel. You need to see some people, as well as you need to see yourself, experiencing breakthroughs through the gospel, then you know there’s nothing more important than preaching it and ministering it. But you have to have some personal acquaintance yourself with the power of the gospel.
Questions for Discussion:
How would you answer the questions that Tim Keller fields in this interview?
How have you tried these simple behaviors - letting people know that you go to church, that you are a Christian and this means something to you? What response have you received?
How comfortable are you with contextualizing the gospel - putting the essential truths of the gospel in a different order based on who you are talking to? How could you be more prepared to do this?
What have you done to personally apply the gospel to your own life? What breakthroughs have you seen because of God’s work and God’s grace in your life?