The Context of Evangelism
The visual and verbal media may be effective, but nothing can match the power of the personal touch. Christ, the visible expression of the invisible God, came to disclose the heart, the essence, and the being of the eternal God in the clearest way of all—personal revelation. And He has called the church to personally manifest His life to the world. We are actually letters of Christ, “known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). We are to be communicators of a message the world desperately needs to hear, and this communication must take place not only with our lips but also with our lives. Our words must be authenticated by the quality of our character, by the genuineness of our love and service of people, and by the corporate love within the Christian community.
Our friends without Jesus need to know that they are important to us for who they are and not because they are warm bodies we want to persuade. This will be reflected in our words, attitudes, and actions. When there is a discrepancy between our talk and our walk, what we are will speak so loudly that others will not hear what we say. People are looking for reality, not role-plays. Colossians 4:5-6 nicely balances the two issues of our words and our works.
Like the two wings on an airplane, talk and walk must be balanced and symmetrical. We must avoid the two extremes of all talk and no walk or all walk and no talk. The first is evangelism without friendship; the second is friendship without evangelism.
Both Colossians 4:5 and Ephesians 5:15-16 tell us to walk in wisdom by making the most of the kairon (times, opportunities) the Lord puts in our path. We are called to a life of constant alertness to opportunities for bearing witness to the hope that is in us. We need eyes to see these moments and a will that is trained to act. It is a matter of our inner time controlling our external time, and not vice-versa.
Most of us have far more ministry opportunities than we realize. God has sovereignly given us relational networks in four areas: family (biological network), friends (social network), work (vocational network), and neighbors (geographical network).
Within each of these spheres, we experience differing degrees of closeness, ranging from casual contacts to intimate friendships. It is a helpful exercise to think about the people in each of your four networks and to pray for God’s direction as to which of these relationships He would have you cultivate for His purposes. As you identify the people the Lord would have you love and serve in this way, creatively consider what interests you share in common with each of these people (e.g., sports, children, picnics, recreation, the arts, clubs, food, travel). Then, begin to schedule these common-ground activities with the unbelievers for whom you are praying.
Remember that people are not projects. It is good to desire and pray for their salvation, but this outcome must never become a personal goal. If it degenerates into a goal, you will seek to manipulate the relationship to bring it about, and this will have negative consequences. Your part is to love and serve them unconditionally and to leave the results to God.
When you have natural opportunities to transition from small talk to spiritual things, seek to avoid clichés and theological jargon and be sensitive enough not to be pushy or argumentative. Treat outsiders with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15) and use responses that stimulate rather than stifle open discussion.
Recalling the spectrum of spirituality we discussed earlier, there is a variety of methods that are appropriate to people at different points on the left side of the spectrum (–10 to –1). These include one-on-one cultivation, open forums (discussion parties in homes), small group evangelism, exploratory Bible studies with individuals or groups, and special outreach events.
Jesus book-ended His earthly ministry with evangelism: He began by calling His disciples to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19) and ended by commissioning them to be His witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8).
As we develop an eternal perspective, become involved in the process, depend upon God’s power, and trust God for the outcome, we will have the joy of being a part of the eternal purposes of the living God.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth
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