Evangelism 102

Relating Your Story

This class is designed to help the student better understand the concept of personal evangelism and to be able to tell the story of their own salvation if asked how they came to Christ.

While I won’t say that these questions are difficult, some may require you to put considerable thought into them and to really be honest with yourself.  I’d encourage you to answer them the best you can, even if you don’t know exactly what to write.

Your name:
Class: Evangelism 102

In the last class we ended by discussing the parable of the sower and the different types of soil one will encounter.  If not everyone we encounter is prepared to receive the gospel, how do we prepare them to hear and receive it?

It is first necessary to determine just what type of person we are dealing with.  Let’s go back to the chart from the last lesson, with one more column added in.

Skeptic/Cynic Cultivating Ranges from: avoids the truth, possibly mocking it
To: recognizes a difference in the messenger, though not the message itself
Spectator Planting Ranges from: sees relevance in the Bible
To: considers the Bible to be true
Seeker Ranges from: recognizes a spiritual need
To: turns from trusting in self to trusting in God
Believer Harvesting Ranges from: trusting in Christ
To: makes Christlike choices
Disciple Multiplying Ranges from: shares faith with others
To: lives by faith, fruit of the spirit very evident in ones life

Skeptics and Cynics are difficult to witness to because they are unlikely to believe most of what you say.  These people usually have some sort of rational argument why the Bible can’t be true or how all Christians are nothing more than hypocrites.  Discussion is necessary to open their eyes to the truth.  Evangelism 101 & 102 cover questions that skeptics and cynics may ask.

It would be foolish to assume we know the spiritual condition of any person we have just met and we shouldn’t rush to categorize people to whom we wish to tell the gospel.  People are not witnessing “projects”, “subjects”, nor a number or category.  We need to have a desire to see a person come to a saving knowledge of Christ and not just so we can bolster the numbers in our church or achieve another notch in our spiritual belt.

It is important that we get to know to whom we are speaking.  This takes time, and in a many cases, a lot of time.  Yes, there are cases when you may meet a stranger on an airplane and they are spiritually hungry and searching for God.  In an hour or two a great impact may be made in that person’s life.  In most cases, especially when dealing with your friends or coworkers, the process will take some time.

In the first class we discussed how to earn the right to be heard.  Once you’ve done this and have established a relationship with a person, your life is an open book.  While it is sometimes necessary to talk to your friends about Jesus, the most a person will learn about Jesus is by how you carry yourself and how you act.  If you appear to be no different from the rest of the world – stealing from work, talking about others behind their back, etc. – your friends will see nothing different in you and will have little reason to want to become a Christian.  If Christianity has the answers to their problems, they need to see that the difference has been made in you.

What must you do in your life so that others can see that you are different from the rest of the world and that Jesus is what they are looking for?

Keeping this in mind, there are 5 C’s (as taken from Peel and Larimore’s Going Public with Your Faith) that you should work on.

Competence

Character

Consideration

Courage

Communication

Competence – 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  This may not seem like a big thing, especially if you work in an environment where 15 minute breaks are typically stretched into 25.  Our work ethic does matter.  What if Jesus had done shoddy work as a carpenter?  What if he overcharged clients?  If those people encountered him later when he began his ministry, would they listen to what he had to say?  No, probably not. 

Character – When you mention televangelism today, some people cringe.  I’m one of them.  In my mind, the 1980’s forever branded the work of preachers on TV.  Healing for dollars, embezzlement, and high profile affairs has caused a lot of distrust of TV evangelists, and for some, preachers in general.  If you lack character, you won’t be able to hide it and your testimony will be impacted.

Consideration – It’s the little things that make the difference.  I’m not making light of the necessity of consideration, just that it is overlooked often.  If all religions are the same to an onlooker when it comes to attending services and living a “good” life, something must be done to show that Christianity is better than the alternatives.  We know that other religions do not offer what Christianity does, but outsiders do not.  A friendly smile, concern for a coworkers family, or help fixing a flat tire has opened the door to share the gospel – even if it doesn’t immediately cause someone to give their life to Christ.

Courage – “The desire for safety stands against every noble and great endeavor.” – Tacitus
I believe that it is every Christians desire to do great things for the kingdom of God.  Our problem does not lie in lack of ability.  Our problem lies in a lack of confidence in the abilities God gave us.  Obviously this shouldn’t be so, because who are we to question the abilities God gave us and find ourselves wanting?  When faced with battle and the obstacle of several nations to overcome, the Lord commanded Joshua in Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  When it comes to expressing our faith, we shouldn’t be afraid of the consequences because God is with us and has told us to be courageous.

Communication – Ultimately, there comes a time when actions are not enough and we need to verbally present the gospel to other people.  Our deeds go a long way in communicating what Christianity is all about, but no one is perfect and telling someone about God’s perfect love is necessary.  We are to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)  With this is mind, there are some instances when it is inappropriate to share the gospel. 

 

What instances can you think of when it may be inappropriate to share your faith?

Likewise, there are some times when it is very appropriate in sharing your faith.  If you ask God for the opportunity to share your faith, he will open the door for you and present you with the opportunity to do so. 

Give examples of when it may be appropriate to share your faith with someone.

There is an fairly influential Christian business man that has helped me greatly in times past.  He is an aggressive evangelist but seems to pick the worst times to try to share his faith.  His heart is in the right place, but despite his desire to share his faith, I do not know how effective he has been in bringing anyone to Christ.  In Going Public with Your Faith there are three times outlined when it is most appropriate to share you faith.

  • When it arises out of relationships naturally built around another person

  • When it naturally fits into the topic of conversation

  • When you are asked

The first two sound a bit alike.  The first requires an established relationship, the second doesn’t necessarily.  For example, your friend has just lost his grandmother to old age.  You may casually ask what your friend believes happens when you die.
In the second instance, you and a coworker are admiring the beautiful flowers in the courtyard at work.  You mention, “Isn’t it amazing how God has given us so much beauty for us to enjoy.”  “Give me a break, do you believe in that religion nonsense.”  An opening is made for you to present you faith, even if the listener is hostile toward religion.
In the third instance, a coworker knows you are a Christian and asks what you think about some tragic event that just happened in the world.  “How can God allow these things to happen?”  Answer his question but leave him with something to think about as well.  Spiritual curiosity is a good thing.  Instead of just replying that God gives us free will or that man is inherently wicked, you might ask the person if they thought the evil actions would go unpunished or if God would ultimately see that justice would be done.  This could lead to a discussion about our own sin.  Keep them thinking and don’t give them easy, “Sunday school” answers.

Be honest with yourself.  Which of these five are easiest for you to do?  Which one is the hardest?  What can you do to improve?

If you are talking to people about your faith, ultimately the question about how you became a Christian may come up.  It pays to think about your story ahead of time.  Sure you remember how you got saved and the situation around it.  But what was it that caused you to reach out to God?  How can your story of salvation help others come to Christ?  In preparation to telling others, write how you came to Christ and the circumstances around it.

So you’ve built a relationship with a non-Christian and have had some opportunities to share your faith.  You might have a good response and you might not have.  You might be encouraged or discouraged by what has happened.  Keep this in mind.  God works through us, but also in spite of us.  Your attempt at evangelizing your friend may have appeared to blow up in your face, but God can still use it to his glory.

When it comes to reaching others for Christ, there is no win or lose.  Just because you flawlessly explain the process of salvation and your friend does not accept it does not mean you failed.  On average, a person must hear the gospel 7 times before they finally accept it.  Remember the parable of the soils.  Sometimes preparation is necessary before the gospel is received.

Many people cannot place a specific date on when they became a Christian.  For many, it was a natural process and one day they simply realized that they had made the necessary step.  Likewise, when you are working with someone, a specific date may not be remembered but simply at some point a person “gets it.”

Finally, we are told that we are to go and make disciples.  To many people, this means spreading tracts around the community or going door to door.  While this is a method of witnessing, it is not effective at making disciples.  Making disciples means not just stopping when a person becomes a Christian.  Making disciples means working with that person to deepen their faith.  This is when you reach the multiplying phase. 

Making disciples is the call of every Christian.  It is a necessary thing if we wish to see the church survive in the 21st century.  This school has two other classes on evangelism; both making you the student sit down and think through questions that you may encounter as you try to witness to others.  If you are interested in preparing yourself for what you may face ahead, I’d recommend that you check them out.

As a teacher, I feel no need to tell you any further what you must do.  Jesus has already commissioned us to evangelize.  Now you, go and make disciples.

 Check out some suggested answers.  Or challenge yourself with Evangelism 201.

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