Posted by: celticanglican | June 18, 2007

Evangelism for the Everyday Christian

Evangelism for the Everyday Christian
Many of us don’t consider ourselves very good evangelists. Most of us are happy to be able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, but maybe aren’t sure how to go about it, or feel they don’t know enough about the Bible, or are afraid of offending people. However, anyone can be an effective, yet respectful evangelist. Here’s some principles to remember that have helped me to share my faith more effectively. This article is should be helpful for Christians of any denomination, not just Episcopalians.

Some Tips for Starters
1. Learn more about your faith. Remember, a well-informed Christian is an effective witness to their faith. Raiding your church’s literature rack is always helpful.

2. Be well-prepared. Underline or take notes on Bible passages that help support basic Christian beliefs. Have a few pamphlets on-hand. You don’t need to have a large pulpit Bible or tracts on every subject availiable wherever you go, but it may not hurt to have a pocket-size Bible and some literature available should you start talking to someone who seems interested in your faith. As far as Bibles go, the King James Version is very beautiful in language, but can be difficult to understand. Since many unchurched people aren’t familiar with the Bible, a modern translation such as the New Revised Standard Version, New International Version, New American Bible, Good News Bible or Contemporary English Version is recommended.

3. Ask God to show you where people in need are The unchurched are all around us, but many simply don’t see their need for Christ or have been hurt by an abusive church or pastor and are not receptive to the message. God will allow people to cross paths with you who are in need of God’s message of love and redemption.

4. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. Remember, you don’t need to be a theologian or expert apologist to help bring people to Christ. Many of the early Christians didn’t have an extensive theological education, but still helped to get the message out.

5. Not everyone can be approached the same way. I tend to avoid evangelism plans, simply because not everyone can be approached about the Gospel in the same way. A pre-set evangelism plan is often based on the assumption everyone will accept Biblical principles without question. It helps if your approach varies according to who you’re talking to. There are resources on the Internet which deal with specific non-Christian groups you may encounter and share your faith with (such as atheists, Hindus, New Agers, etc.), and I can recommend some of these sites to anyone who asks.

Sharing Your Faith Without Offending Others
1. Respect peoples’ privacy. Although I understand some Christians prefer these methods, I don’t do door to door evangelism, because very often, a person is going to be offended rather than accept the Gospel if presented in this way. Instead, I would try initiating discussion with people I encounter and causually bring up the subject of what religious beliefs they have, if any, and whether they go to church. If they ask you about your beliefs, share what you know and try to answer any questions you can. If they don’t have a church home, invite them to your church and offer to show them around and get aquainted with the service. Showing a person that you’re interested in them personally, instead of just another person “in need of saving”, will help greatly.

2. Discuss, don’t just quote Scripture. There is certainly nothing wrong with using Scripture to back up your beliefs. However, it’s important to remember that many people don’t accept the authority of the Bible or think it’s just another book. Quoting Scripture verses to someone of that viewpoint is often counter-productive. When discussing your beliefs with someone in this category, common sense and logic are often your best arguments. For example: Mary is an Episcopalian with an orthodox Christian perspective. Her friend, Michelle, comes from a New Age background and can’t understand the orthodox Christian viewpoint of salvation. To her, wrongdoing stems from people not recognizing they’re one with God. Here is an example of a conversation between the two when Michelle mentions she would like to find a church. MICHELLE: I’d like to find a church to go to, but so many of them are into legalism and seem to have so little love in them. MARY: Have you tried the Episcopal Church yet? We’re inclusive but still hold traditional beliefs. MICHELLE: Do you really believe Jesus died for people’s sins? Why would a loving God allow that? MARY: Because He chose to do that. Jesus IS God, and He loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins to bring us closer to God. MICHELLE: Well, I believe He’s God, too. Just in the sense that we all are. All our problems come from not knowing that we’re one with God. All we need to do is realize this. There’s no need for anyone to die for us. MARY: Michelle, if we are all essentially God, then how would any of us be capable of evil? If God is capable of being evil, then can He really be loving or good? And why would God punish anyone just for being ignorant of divine origins? MICHELLE: You’ve brought up some good points, Mary. You’ve given me something to think about anyway. I’d still like to check out your church sometime, maybe next Sunday. MARY: Great! I’ll be more than happy to help you get aquainted with the service. Explaining your beliefs logically will get the point across when quoting Scripture won’t. If a person doesn’t accept Scriptural authority, no amount of quoting Scripture will make them do so. If they are receptive to the message, God will work in their heart.

3. Learn more about your friend’s background. No one is an expert on every world religion, or has to be. But, it does help if you understand the basics of their belief system. It will help eliminate making embarrassing mistakes that come from stereotypes about other religions (for instance, the belief that those who practice Wicca are satanists), and it may help make it easier to explain your beliefs to them. (A good example of this is St. Patrick explaining the Trinity to the Irish by using a shamrock).

4. Show a lot of respect. A person who is non-Christian may hold some beliefs that seem offensive or strange to you. Remember, though, you can disagree with them while still being respectful. Look for some common ground, while stil recognizing your differences. A good example of this is when St. Paul addressed the men of Athens at the Aeropagus (Acts 17:22-31). Never resort to name-calling or personal attacks.

5. Don’t give up on them as a friend. Don’t give up your friendship with someone just because they won’t convert. Remember, God works things out in His time, not ours. Also, don’t be discouraged if they choose to attend a different denomination, because your friend may be happier in another branch of Christ’s Church. I’ve spoken to unchurched people who finally found a mainline church to attend other than the Episcopal Church, and I’m glad they were able to find their way to Christ. We’re just one of many branches of Christ’s Church.

6. Last, but not least: St. Francis of Assisi once said “Preach the Gospel always. Use words if you have to.” Not only should we preach the Gospel by word, but by our good deeds. Christians are often accused of doing good deeds only to buy their way into heaven. For a person who follows Jesus and tries to be like Him as much as possible, doing good things comes naturally. Doing something because “it’s the Christian thing to do” will help others to see what our faith does for us. Many converts to Christianity have said one of the things that drew them to Christ was the inner peace they saw in others. What a great way for people to discover God!

Helpful Tips for Sharing Your Faith on the Net

1. Use Caution. The Internet is frequented by millions of people around the world. While there are many good people out there, there’s plenty of people with bad intentions, too. Be careful how much personal information you share with people you don’t know, and never leave information like your address or phone number in a public forum.

2. Obey the Rules. Most online communities with chat and messageboards (such as AOL, Delphi, etc.) have guidelines about what content is or isn’t acceptable. Some will allow discussion of your faith but won’t permit prostelytizing (trying to convince others to convert). Always read the guidelines and contact the webmaster or moderator if unsure of the rules.

3. Don’t Spam. Spamming means sending unsolicited e-mails to people or posting the same message several times in a newsgroup or forum, especially if it’s unrelated to the forum. Not only is this extremely rude, but it may cause you to lose your Internet account.

4. No Shouting. Please don’t type your messages all in capital letters. This is the online equivilant of shouting or screaming at someone, and may make your messages appear angry. It’s better to type in mixed case.

5. Make Youself at Home. Whether you’re new to the Internet or not, it never hurts to brush up on the basics from time to time. You don’t have to be an advanced computer user, but understanding the basics will make things easier for you.

+Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.

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Responses

  1. This is a good list. I like it. You’ve done some good thinking on it.

    Chris

  2. Thanks, Pastor. May God bless you!


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