Relationship Evangelism

relationship_Evangelism

Being a good missionary means being a good student of your culture - and if we know anything about our culture today people are skeptical of everything. God, the government, vaccinations - you name - people doubt it. That makes the task of evangelism tough because how do we evangelize a cynical, skeptical culture? The answer is Relationship Evangelism.

Do you know why you don't meet many door-to-door salesmen anymore? Because people are skeptical of strangers!!! They usually don't make financial decisions after talking to a relative stranger for 15 mins on their front door step - and they certainly don't make life-altering and life-changing decisions (like following Jesus.) That's why our appraoch to evangelism needs to change from cold, door-to-door, confrontational interactions to warm, real, genuine, loving relationshisps.

It's been said by my good friend Tommy Clayton that Relationships are like the eggs in the meatloaf of good evangelism. Do you know what happens if you make meatloaf but forget to add the 2 eggs? It falls apart. It becomes salisbury steak bro. Meatloaf - Eggs = Not meatloaf! In the same way, Evangelism - Relationship = Failure. It's a sale pitch, not loving advice and counsel. 

With that in mind - below are 2 completely different ways to do relationship evangelism from 2 completely different Christians. Tim Keller - the consumate introvert (not a door-to-door salesman) gives you a less agressive way to share your faith with non-Christians. The 2nd list comes from JD Grear (the current president of the SBC and a guy who would charge hell with a waterpistol) and he provides a more bold and outgoing approach. No matter your personality - you can evangelize people for Jesus!

Advice for Introverts from Tim Keller

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  1. Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way). Make statements no matter where you are that let people know you know God.  Simple things like "Hasn't God given us a beautiful day?" or "Your children are a blessing from God!"  show people that you know God and that way, if God is already at work in someone's heart, you can be a person they talk to.  This is something I am trying to adopt more and more in my life, whether on the subway or in the grocery store or on the street.

  2. Ask friends about their faith – and just listen! People don't like to be preached to, but they do like to be asked their opinions, and they do like to hear your story.

  3. Listen to your friends problems – offer to pray for them. This can go miles.  Some people will say “no” or be annoyed of course... be prepared for that.  But others could be deeply affected by hearing their name in your prayer and seeing you model personal and simple prayers to God.  Pray for them right there! 

  4. Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you through your problems.

  5. Give them a book to read. I recently gave one of my neighbors who have shared with me their marrital struggles Kellers book called "The Meaning of Marriage." They seemed intrigued and eager to get help! I left feeling pretty good about having effectively evangelized them!

  6. Share your testimony. Make sure to include details about being saved from sin, hell, and God’s perfect wrath.

  7. Answer objections and questions

  8. Invite them to a church event

  9. Offer to read the Bible with them

  10. Invite them to church (I promise to evangelize them for you!)

What Keller also advises is that we (generally) start with 1-4. If people are interested and want to talk more you can move them to stages 5-7. If they’re still interested go on to stages 8-10. Sometimes people will want to go straight to 10, but often people start from way back and need some time to think and discuss things in a non-pressured way. We often think that only stages 8-10 count and invest all our energy there. TK suggests that to get people at stages 8,9,10 you have to put the work in at 1-4. Sometimes you’ll have to keep going round the loop multiple times.

 Advice for Extroverts - from JD Greear

extrovert

  1. Eat with Non-Christians: Whether it is lunch with co-workers or dinner at a dining room table, dinner is a place where we still get to know one another well. Eating consistently with someone is a sign of friendship, and it almost always gives you an hour to joke, talk, and discuss things going on in your lives.

  2. Throw Parties: People love parties. Whenever a neighborhood has one, people walk away thinking, “We should do that more often.”  Why are we as the church not leading that in our communities? Jesus was a fixture at parties in the NT.  Parties allow us to open our doors to many different kinds of people, give us a chance to practice hospitality, and allow for a casual atmosphere of conversation and relationship building.  One of our campus pastors recently found out that his HOA would give $75 for hosting 3 or more families. Maybe yours would too.

  3. Community playgrounds, pools, and dog parks: There is almost nothing that makes it easier to break the ice with people you don’t know than if you both have kids or dogs. That makes being a regular at play grounds, community pools, and dog parks an easy place to start up conversations. On top of that, you will be modeling in front of your children how to reach out to new people.

  4. Join Neighborhood Committees:  Relationships easily and naturally occur when you and another person care for the same thing, and almost all people care about their homes and their neighborhoods.  I recently talked to a man who joined his neighborhood committee, and he now has friendships with people he had not been able to even have a descent conversation with.

  5. Play Groups (mom’s): All mom’s need adult conversation and relationships. What a great way to connect with and build friendships with other women in the neighborhood.  What a great environment to invite other women to who you may meet through doing community ministry.

  6. Be a regular, meet the other regulars:  I frequent the same places. People in our society don't respond well to strangers, so I try to eat, drink coffee, buy gas, get my car worked on, and shop, etc at the same places. Relationship is not essential for evangelism, but it sure helps. At most of those places I mentioned people know me by name. Inevitably a chance comes up to pray for them, ask about their lives, invite them to church, etc. For example, several of the people from my local coffee shop have started to come to our church, and a few have become believers and gotten baptized. My mechanic has recently attended our church. Where relevant, I leave BIG tips. Especially if I know someone is having a bad day. I'll jot a little note and tell them I'm praying for them. I ask people, sometimes, how I can pray for them. Most people don't mind to be prayed for, and if they don't want to talk, they answer shortly and I let it drop. I invite them to church. Over and over.

  7. Be Outside: This simply puts you in a position where you can see and talk to your neighbors.  Work in your yard, play with your kids outside, or sit on your porch or in your driveway.  This is how almost everyone meets and builds friendships with neighbors. The more you are outside, the more informal touches you can get with the people that live around you.

  8. Volunteer with Non-Profits:  Non-profits are a great way to serve your city and to meet people that you would never have a chance to meet.

  9. Participate in City Events:  There are many festivals and events the city of Daytona Beach puts on.

  10. Hobbies with people: Do what you love with people. Love to run? Join a running group. Love to read? There are book clubs that would love to have you.  Do you go to a gym? Don’t just nod and walk past the people you see every day. Talk to them and begin to work out together. Hobbies give people a common ground to start building friendships.

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