How can the Engel Scale help us as we share Christ?

(SeanO) #1

Hey everyone, as apologists I think we sometimes want to launch into a beautiful, well formed argument with all of our unsaved friends and see them come to Jesus. But sometimes it’s not the right time for logical argument. How do you guys think the Engel Scale can help us to be wise in the way that we approach evangelism?

The Engel scale is a way of trying to discern what stage of their spiritual journey another person is in. For me, one way to use it is to try to figure out where those in your circle of influence fall on this scale and then try to act in accordance with that state - cultivate, sow, harvest or multiply. Of course we may be wrong in our estimation, but I think it is a very helpful starting place.

What are your thoughts??? Any stories you could share to help others?


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(Rob Henry) #2

This is really great, Sean. I have never come across this before. Thank you for sharing.

(SeanO) #3

@robhenry15 Sure thing! The first time I encountered it was at a seminar led by some folks who called themselves ‘evangelical monks’ - they basically moved into poor neighborhoods and sought to love their neighbor / share the Gospel. As they met people in the community they would attempt to rate them on this scale and then come up with one or two simple next steps - baby steps to help them move toward Jesus. I really appreciated their method.

(Matt Western) #4

Hi @SeanO,
just wanted to mention I was also helped by the steps graphic you posted here. If a person acknowledges that God exists, then I’m wasting time asking them if they believe in a self-creating universe and trying to establish that God exists. I need to move further up the scale. I don’t have any stories yet but I found it useful to think about the ‘Steps to Christ’.


(SeanO) #5

@matthew.western Great point! If we do not know our audience or where the person with whom we are speaking is at on their journey we could very easily say something irrelevant to them. We must strive to do our best to know when and what to say - that is part of wisdom.

Proverbs 15:23 - A person finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word!

I remember that William Wilberforce, according to the speaker sharing this information, would try to think carefully about how he could move each person closer to the truth when he hosted guests for dinner. I think that level of intentionality is inspiring and challenging.

(Mark Gilliam) #6

Any sales process needs a good discovery and evangelism is similar to a sales process. Therefore, it could be helpful in seeing where someone might be on the scale through discovery in order to preclude objections, etc.

However, it is God who saves and not us so let us not be reluctant to share the Gospel with someone who is low on the scale. Let’s not overthink it and say wait a second you are not ready for this yet so I am going to withhold the Good News.

God can save someone wherever they may be on the scale. St. Paul hated Christ and Christ met and saved him. Nothing is too difficult for God. Mark 16:15-16 “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He how believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.’” I don’t see any qualifiers in that command.

(SeanO) #7

@mgilliam I hear ya brother - 100% God can save someone who has never heard of the Bible or the Gospel even without us - through dreams and visions. But I think we see an example in the apostle Paul that we ought to be wise in how we communicate to different people. For example, Paul modified his own way of life when he witnessed to different types of people:

1 Cor 9:20-22 - To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

And if we read Paul’s letter to the Romans versus the book of Hebrews we see that when speaking to a Gentile / Jewish audience he took a very different approach than someone speaking to a mainly Jewish audience. I do not think that the reality of the power of God to save lets us off the hook for seeking to be wise in how we share Christ.

I’m not saying the Engel scale is the best way to do that or that there is any perfect approach. I simply think we ought, like Paul, to try to be wise in how we approach other people while never being ashamed of the Gospel of Christ or doubting that God can use unworthy, unqualified folks like us to save souls. What I love about Paul is that He was so unashamed of Jesus and yet also so wise in his approach to people.

(Mark Gilliam) #8

Thanks, SeanO, for responding. I agree with everything you said.

I also think that just like a good salesperson should ask for a sale with each customer interaction, we should ask for a commitment to Christ with the same fervor.

I think many good Christians don’t share because they think it is not the “right” time or don’t have quite the “right” words, etc. and adherence / dependence to the Engel scale could encourage one not to press on, because this person is presently at a -12.

I am just for charging into the fray, of course with love and respect – that is also a command – even though it may not seem like the “right” time or I don’t quite have the “right” words. I have shared the gospel with folks that really surprised me when they prayed to receive Christ. I was not expecting that to happen…

There are many steps on the Engel scale, but there seems to be only two in a salvific sense – belief or unbelief. If you are at a -1 you are just as hell bound as -12.

Thanks for sharing the Engel scale. It is very interesting and thought provoking. When I share the Gospel I almost always use Evangelism Explosion as my method.

Mark Gilliam

(SeanO) #9

@mgilliam Thank you for sharing your perspective. I think those thoughts are helpful :slight_smile:

(Mark Gilliam) #10

You’re welcome. I am amazed at how much you know and write.

(SeanO) #11

@mgilliam I’m just so thankful for Connect - it’s a blessing there is a place where people value thinking about Jesus - I’m grateful for the community :slight_smile: It is truly an oasis.