Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why We Stink at Evangelism

Evangelism....ick.  How many times have you been in a church or parachurch organization that is about to embark on some sort of "Gospel Blitz" and just cringed a bit inside? 

Drive by tractings....

4 Spiritual Laws

Servant Evangelism

But has the needle moved in our culture?  Not really.  Actually, that's dishonest, it is moving....the other way.  Numerous studies show that the numbers of those who would self-identify as Born Again Christians are shrinking, while those who are known as the "Nones"(spiritual but no affiliation) is growing.  Not to mention the growing visibility of atheist/agnostic groups. 

Now, it isn't all doom and gloom.  In many areas and within many amazing churches and organizations God is doing amazing things.  Lives are radically changing and people are being saved from death into life. 

But why isn't it more widespread?

Because, frankly, the sheep suck at making new sheep.  To put it simply, we aren't very good evangelists.  And no number of conferences and ONE TIME events are going to change that.

So, what can we do?

Here's a little life hack I want to pass on to you, FOR FREE!!  When trying to figure out what you as a Christian should be doing, see what Jesus did!!

In John 5:31-47 Jesus provides a wonderful example of how HE went about testifying about Himself(the Gospel in the flesh).  Everyone wants to know what He is all about and who He is, so He does what He does best...tells them. 

We see 4 great and applicable principles in Jesus' response that each of us should take to heart as evangelists(which we are ALL called to be).

First Principle
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.

Jesus is not saying that what he is going to say is a lie.  He is responding to the legal understanding of the Jewish culture.  Namely, that you cannot testify on your own behalf in court.  There was the basic belief that people will lie to make themselves look better.  Jesus is accepting that to communicate effectively with his audience he needs to follow their rules of discussion and proof.  He goes on to say, I know what I am saying is truth, but we will play by your conversational rules(my paraphrase)

We are terrible evangelists because we too often refuse to communicate to people in a way that they can interact with and understand.  If I am talking to someone who has never been to church throwing around a bunch of words like; Propitiation, sanctification, justification, etc...will not effectively tell them anything helpful. 

Are you being wise to know who you are talking to and how to talk to them well?  And guess what that requires?  Getting to know them!!!  Don't expect to be very effective as long as you are speaking another "language".

Second Principle
33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth."

Jesus than refers to a known testimony found in someone else's life.  Namely John the Baptists.  This Jewish audience respected John and they had observed the reality of his life and message.  John's life was a living testimony to the truth Jesus was trying to communicate to them. 

We are terrible evangelists because we don't have a life testimony that confirms the message we are sharing.  Everyone accepted what they observed from John to be the real deal.  Do people accept what you say to be the real deal in relation to how you actually live and behave?

Ask yourself, "Does my life reveal the truth of what I say, or contradict it?"

Third Principle
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me.

Here is where Jesus starts to get supernatural.  He started by communicating by their rules, then he used an outside "testimony", and now he goes to the heart of the matter.  His miracles.  And what was it that the Father sent the Son to do?  To die and rise again! 

We are not inviting people to join a club of do gooders.  We are telling them about the Risen Lord.  If you are trying to share the Gospel, and this point isn't central....well....then you really aren't sharing the Gospel. 

Who is the last person you shared with that your talked about Christ crucified?

Fourth Principle
46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

At the very end Jesus goes to the Scriptures.  Going back to principle one, you have to talk to people in the way that they can understand.  If someone doesn't believe in God, quoting random Bible verses right off the bat isn't going to be very helpful.  But the glue that holds the testimony(your life, Christ's ministry) is the Word of God. 

The best way to utilize God's word is by naturally using it in your conversation to show where it lines up with what you have been sharing.  If you start by saying "the bible says this" you can lose them before you show them its validity!

How well do you know the Word so you can use it appropriately.

Ready to stop stinking at evangelism?

Get to know people and know how to communicate with them.

Live a living testimony to the power of Christ in your life.

Share the hope of a Risen Savior.

Know your Bible well!

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