Hi Greg, could you please share with us how you think about ‘evangelism’? In particular, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned over the years? What are some of the habits or attitudes you try to practice?
I think of evangelism pretty broadly. Of course, the central fulcrum is a person’s response to Christ in faith. But evangelism is a process that begins exactly where a person finds herself. Many of our friends have no sense that Jesus is relevant or important or even worth thinking about. So evangelism often includes helping a person see how the reality of what God has done for un in Christ takes up the deeper concerns she has. If we think of the Gospel only in terms of forgiveness of sins, we miss a great opportunity. Most people today do not think of guilt and the need for forgiveness. In fact, if anyone needs forgiveness, it is God. So, we often hold Jesus forth as an answer to a problem people think is not real.
In the Scriptures, it is clear that the Gospel is much broader than the guilt-forgiveness issue. This issue, to be sure, is central. Forgiveness made possible in Christ makes all the other facets of the Gospel possible. But we would do well to highlight how the Gospel speaks to the concerns that are at work in a person’s life. This involves thinking about how Jesus actually brings us hope and joy and life.
Another big issue in evangelism is to think of it more as a conversation and less as a lecture. We often can be anxious to get the content out and to get it right. If we think about evangelism as a conversation, we are less tied up in getting the message out. We can weave the message into the normal conversation.
This helps me think about the question: Did I succeed in that encounter with that person? Every conversation that continues is a success.
Thanks for asking!
Of course, there is lots more that can be said…