Evangelism

Taking Opportunities For Evangelism

 

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

GW preaching open air with oposition

Seeing as how I have written fairly little about evangelism in the last little while, I thought I would share something that I have learned to do, and am continuing to learn to do. Namely to take opportunities for personal evangelism. This is something I have been asking God to help me with much lately. The average Joe Christian is not a professional evangelist or missionary. They are not paid by a church or parachurch group to go out and witness of and for Jesus Christ in the world. This means that they have to sacrifice their time and effort to do so.

And as Christians, we should be very willing to do so. God commands us to go and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) and we love Him so we gladly obey. But the reality is that for most Christians that doesn’t translate to a soap box in a public square or handing out tracts at a bus stop. It probably should, but it doesn’t for one reason or another. Many think that just ‘living the life’ is sufficient, and others are either too afraid of messing it up, or too lazy to make the effort. But we are commanded to open our mouths, to preach the Gospel. So then how does a Christian have an outlet?

The answer lies in what I will call personal evangelism, that is, taking an opportunity when it arrives and translating that into a gospel encounter. This is what I mean. You’re chatting with a colleague during a break. You’re not talking about work, because you’re on break, you’re just chatting. What an opportunity. What a chance to present the Gospel… gulp. And gulp is right, as anyone knows who has made the effort to witness to strangers, that moment before you start is both nerve-wrackingly terrifying and thrilling to say the least.

ConversationI have had two helps in getting past that moment of fear. First, by considering beforehand that this is something both commanded by Jesus, and at the same time its life saving work, people’s souls are at stake. Secondly, by being  predetermined and prepared to take this step. This second point is what I want to focus on now.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Be Predetermined

Let us consider 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Paul is writing to the Corinthians and describing his visit to them. See what he says: firstly that he did not come with lofty speech or wisdom. His aim was never to appear to be a sage, or cult leader or philosopher above the common people. Second that he decided (beforehand) to preach nothing, except Christ and Him crucified (Vs 2). It was Paul’s aim to magnify Christ and not Him self. Also He was determined to preach Christ, rather than attempting to convince the Corinthians by reason or argument or by fancy rhetoric. It was the Gospel, not apologetics that was Paul’s goal, Christ and not self.

Now I’m not suggesting that you have to hone on a person and follow them around till you get to witness to them, but what I am saying is that, at the beginning of the day, decide deliberately to take the opportunity to witness to people, as and when the chance arrives. Be determined, decide, provoke yourself. Also once a chance conversation starts, predetermine where you want the conversation to go. My goal in this casual conversation is to be 1. friendly, and 2. to present Christ and Him crucified. This doesn’t mean that you spend your time mulling over it, but when you meet the old school friend randomly in the shops, decide beforehand that you want to get the gospel in.

Be Prepared

Being prepared is an even better way of taking opportunities for evangelism than the previous point. In the verse Paul had decided to preach Christ and Him crucified. He was ready to present the gospel and was focussed on getting that particular message out. Paul’s message was Christ, and it was a message He was well aware of, having preached it and heard it often.

For myself I have found this point to be extremely helpful. Knowing what to say beforehand and being prepared to pull it out at any time is the difference between a fumbling half message, and a clear law-gospel presentation with every element included.

By way of example, this is what I mean. I like to use theology as pivot point in a conversation. For example, If I’m sitting at my desk, it is not unlikely that one of the pages of this website is open on my PC. Often someone will walk in and say something like “what are you doing” I will make a comment like “writing theology.” Now depending on how they react do I proceed. If they give me a look of complete puzzlement (which happens often), I’ll immediately begin explaining what theology is, in broad terms and what it says, namely the Gospel message, my goal. On the other hand, if they know what theology is, I’ll ask them their opinion of God, and what they think of Him. That is immediately followed by a gospel presentation. My goal is that they hear about Jesus Christ dying on the cross for their sins, bearing God’s wrath on our behalf, and then He rose from the dead, conquering death and granting eternal life to all who respond to Him in repentance and faith.

My hinge for getting me to that point is the word theology. But its by no means the only way a person could do it. You could use seasonal terms like Easter or Christmas, or if you wish to make the effort, you could use a well know news story, something from which you can spring into the gospel. Either way, be prepared and know what you are going to say. While I am not suggesting you say the same thing over and over again word for word, like a stuck record, the essence of your message should be the same. And remember, just because you have heard it over and over, it is fresh and new to the person you are speaking to.

So in conclusion, whether you take a soapbox out, or simply speak to the person who happens to be sitting next to you, you quickly realise that it takes effort. It takes mental effort, being prepared and determined beforehand to preach the gospel. It also takes nerve to stand up and actually do it, even Paul did it in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (vs 3). But it is so worth it.

Soli Deo Gloria

An Interesting Encounter

I had the privilege of preaching the Gospel again yesterday, first to one girl, then three of her friends. The setup was rather interesting, she was bored in class (and finished the assigned work), but then started talking about, what amounted to existential philosophy. I mentioned to her that that was what she was doing, and gave her permission to look up the word. What followed was research into Ecclesiastes and Lamentations and then the lesson was over. I asked her if she would like to get an understanding of what she was researching, and she said yes.

Right, Romans Road locked on. I began by establishing what she believed about God. She was agnostic, very agnostic, so agnostic that she didn’t even know what the word meant. I proceeded by establishing that God exists, and asking what He requires of us.

We moved from there to the law, and she admitted to lying, stealing and blasphemy. I then explained her dilemma about being under judgment. This was the interesting part of this encounter, her curiosity of how she was to escape judgment. Also sombreness. I then explained the Gospel to her using Easter as my springboard, and again, she seemed to be focus clearly on the message preached. What was interesting (as she told me later) she had never heard the Gospel message before, it was her first time to hear it. As I was beginning to explain repentance and faith, her boyfriend, and two other friends who had been wondering around looking for her (it was break time) found her in the computer room.

I switched back to the law, and moving faster than before cause time was short, recapped, using the girl I was first talking to, to explain in her own words. She remembered what I had said quite well, a sign that it had gone in. I then explained the Gospel one more time, for all for to hear, then repentance and faith.

At that point the bell rang and they had to leave. I left with a direct challenge to the girl. “Is what I’m saying true and if so, what are you going to do about it?” They left and I glorified God.

I pray for all for of them, that they would repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that they have clearly heard the gospel, and I pray God would make them respond to it.

Soli Deo gloria

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Witness Encounter: Interview

Reported below is my submitted assignment for a class I took on evangelism, called the Romans Road. It was a great course and I enjoyed it. Included in the course was a practical, WITNESS to somebody, then report back. Below is the prescribed report back as submitted verbatim to the teacher. Its written in fairly technical language so sorry if you don’t follow everything I say. I have been remiss in not reporting back on my witness encounters as of late,, so this is a means of getting back into the habit.

I interviewed student named Shane, a grade 10 student who attends the computer classes in which I participate in teaching. I believe he was an unbeliever because he had no testimony whatsoever and at his own description, he is not born again. I spoke to him in person, using the prop of “interview for a class” to initiate the conversation.

I began by asking him about his own personal beliefs and understanding of Christian concepts. He says that he was christened at a home church, (in England) and believes in God and the bible but doesn’t know much about either, or does he go to church. When I pressed the point about the bible, he claims that he believes it to be true, accurate and literal, but he had obviously not taken the step of actually reading it. I asked several other questions, probing his worldview

I hinged the conversation into the Roman’s Road part, by asking him on his understanding of Easter, a tactic I often use, with great affect. He described an accurate picture of Christ’s death and resurrection, but could not begin to explain why any of this was necessary.

In answer to my questions he admitted to lying, blasphemy, adultery and murder of the heart, and in light of this quickly understood that he was not a good person (something he had asserted earlier, but instead was a sinner (Rom 3:23) and that he was going to die and after that hell (Rom 6:23). At this time I quoted Romans 6:23. He seemed to have understood step 1 fairly easily so I brought the conversation back to Easter and explain and related Christ’s death and resurrection in terms of his and my law-breaking. I also emphasized the personal nature of the good news, that he, a fallen sinner, can have his sins forgiven while Jesus bore those sins on Himself on the cross, then on the third day, was resurrected.

I then asked if he knew how to receive that forgiveness of sins. To my surprise he described repentance fairly well, without using the word. I “closed the deal” by explaining how God commands “all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30) and to trust Jesus alone for the forgiveness of sins (Rom 5:1 et al) I also illustrated those commands with analogies which I think, on reflection, were probably not necessary with Shane, he seemed to grasp the ideas well.
Most of the emphasis was on step two. He seemed to grasp both the bad news and the “response” fairly easily but needed a little help connecting all the dots as to why Christ actually had to die. To that end, my Easter approach worked exceedingly well in this case, as it often does in my experience.
On several occasions I pressed him to ask me questions, anything he didn’t understand, but once he had grasped step two, there was nothing further he asked during the conversation. This leads me to conclude that his attitude was one of polite interest, because of the idea of an interview, but otherwise apathy, and for this reason, I concluded the interview with a personal challenge on sin and hell, to try and break him out of it, with little or no outward sign of change in attitude, although he answered my challenge orally in the way I had hoped. I trust that the Holy Spirit will convict him of his sin and lead him to repentance.

The outcome of the presentation was a success. The three aspects of the Romans Road were clearly presented and he now was a full understanding of the Gospel, its promises and implications. For me, it is profitable in that it encourages me to not be lazy in evangelism but rather to be bold. To conclude, I plan to pray for this young man much in the next few weeks. I will also have the chance to have further conversations in and around class, although I will not push the point.

To conclude, I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to witness to Shane, it was an unusual interview in that he had more knowledge than the average unbeliever I have spoken to. I trust and pray God will bring him to repentance and faith, adoption into the family of Christ.

Soli Deo gloria

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