THEOLOGY & It must impact a 3-part methodology: personal evangelism, small group evangelism & proclamation events

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

… Our Theology must impact our Methodology

There has been a tendency in the West to focus evangelism training on simply learning techniques. But techniques do not motivate us at a deeper level. Nor are they effective in building authentic relationships. This isn’t to diminish the importance of offering practical help. But the practical must be framed within a deeper theological understanding. Our effectiveness in witness does not come from learning new methods but from understanding the message. Our freedom to witness comes from understanding the author of the message, God Himself! In other words, our theology must impact our methodology. Understanding the character of God will be the deepest motivation possible for witness. Knowing Christ well drives us to want to make Him well known.

The Crisis of Truth and the proclamation of the Gospel

How do we in the West faithfully, creatively proclaim the gospel in our age of relativity that denies the possibility of absolute truth – when the truth of any truth is under suspicion and the validity of gospel truth is either denied or ignored? Yet we are told: “By this Gospel you are saved, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve.” (1 Cor. 15: 2-5) As Peter Kuzmic writes, “The faithful, brave and creative proclamation of the gospel must be grounded in these foundational facts of the universally valid truth, for truth is foundation for trust.” (2) Stephen Neill states: “The only reason for being a Christian is the overpowering conviction that the Christian faith is true.”(3)

If we are not faithful to the gospel then the work of evangelism will never be effective. But when Christians feel intimidated about telling others the Christian message, it is not just a fear of rejection. It goes deeper, to the ability to believe the message themselves in a world that tells them that a religious conviction cannot be true in any factual sense and must be held only as a private opinion. Our task is to strengthen the modern believer’s confidence that this “Good News” is not just true for them, but it is true for the whole world and can be told with assurance.

These are a few of the issues that face us when considering evangelism in the 21st century. A proper response to all these issues is far beyond the scope of this introductory essay. Our core focus at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town (in the Multiplex and Dialogue Sessions) will be to address how best to communicate faith in the 21st century in three areas: personal evangelism, small group evangelism and proclamation evangelism.

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 …

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