CONVERSION & A 3 pronged response to evangelism in the global era: 1) personal evangelism

by Rebecca Manley Pippert & Bishop Benjamin A. Kwashi, Lausanne Movement, 2010.

Three Pronged Response to Evangelism in the global era

The strongest and most vital evangelism occurs when three approaches are used together: personal evangelism, small group evangelism and proclamation evangelistic events. These three approaches complement each other. Most Christian organizations settle for only one approach and it is inadequate. When we use all three together – when the church provides solid training in personal and small group witness as well as doing Outreach events – the result is powerful! Our focus, then, is in developing an effective 3-prong strategy which equips believers with a personal, incarnational approach to witness, that offers small group evangelism through Seeker Bible studies and that effectively offers proclamation evangelism.

I. Personal Evangelism

When training others to develop confidence and competence in the area of personal witness, here are some areas that need to be addressed:

Our Model

Do we have a universal model for how to obey Christ’s command to “Go and make disciples of all the nations?” We do! Christ gave us a model, a message and a method for reaching the world. Our model for outreach, our paradigm for evangelism is the doctrine of the Incarnation. Although there are many doctrines which shape our understanding of witness, perhaps none shape it more than the doctrine of the incarnation; for it is not only a fundamental doctrine, it is a theological prism through which we view our entire missional task in the world.

Jesus said “As the Father sent me into the world, so I send you.” Jesus is telling us that our mission to the world is to resemble His. Just as He entered our world, so are we to enter other people’s worlds as He did.

How then do we go into the world like Jesus? Jesus was both radically identified in love and yet radically different in holiness. What skills can we learn by exploring the implications of the Incarnation?

  • Jesus developed authentic, loving relationships with seekers. He had a “go-to-them” not a “come-to-us” approach. Through observing Jesus we see that establishing loving relationships with seekers reflects the Trinitarian nature of God. God is a relational God. For most seekers today the gap from unbelief to belief cannot be closed outside the context of relationship.
  • Jesus reveals the importance of arousing curiosity in the seeker BEFORE we share the Good News. Closely related to this is learning how to raise the topic of faith. How do we go from a natural conversation to a spiritual one without sounding artificial or manipulative?
  • Jesus has much to teach us about the art of conversation: how to listen respectfully and to dialogue, how to ask good questions and handle their questions, how to use everyday language and adapt what we say to the situation of the person.
  • What do we do with our sense of inadequacy? How do we overcome our fears? What can we learn from Jesus and the stories in the New Testament to assure us that our sense of inadequacy is the first qualification to being a witness?!

Our Message

What are the skills we need to communicate the Gospel?

  • Learn to tell His Story
  • Learn to tell Our Story
  • Learn to communicate the gospel in a contextually sensitive way

The basic content of the gospel is always recognizable and unchanging because it was received by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1: 11-12). However, the New Testament evangelists demonstrate flexibility and creativity in adapting and communicating the gospel in different political and cultural settings. As the German theologian Helmut Thielicke reminds us, “the Gospel must be preached afresh and told in new ways to every generation, since every generation has its own unique questions. This is why the Gospel must be constantly forwarded to a new address because the recipient is repeatedly changing his place of residence.” (4)

Our Means

The lack of dependence on the Spirit’s power is perhaps the single most glaring deficiency in the modern Western church compared to the Early Church. Jesus told his first century disciples they needed to wait for the Holy Spirit before evangelizing their world. “It’s critical for us, if we’re going to evangelize the world in the 21st century, that we have the power of the Holy Spirit residing in us, flowing through us, bringing the character of Jesus in us,” a Christian recently told CBN News.

  • Evangelism isn’t simply a communication or content skill – it’s a spiritual activity dependent upon the supernatural power of God. Therefore we must rediscover that prayer is a holy weapon to be used in evangelism and in our spiritual battles. We must ask God to empower us with the gifts of the Spirit that strengthen us in evangelism.
  • We don’t simply impart information when we share the gospel. We need the Spirit’s power to give our words meaning and effectiveness. It’s the Spirit of God that produces transformed lives, not our ability to communicate the gospel perfectly. We must be convinced that there is no greater power in the world than the power of the Holy Spirit who goes before us, who speaks through us.

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