The Cause Circle: A useful Evangelism Training Concept

THE Cause Circle from Dare2Share is a simple tool that will help you be purposeful about sharing Jesus’ message with your friends.

It will help you identify your friends,

  • remind you to pray,
  • to pursue spiritual conversations and
  • to persuade them to consider Jesus’ message.

A Good Visual for Evangelism Training

Source: Dare2Share

Source: Dare2Share

I like the visual and short summary of this relational approach to evangelism.

It begins with prayer for your friends.

Then you look for and pursue spiritual conversations when you observe spiritual thirst.

Finally, over the time, you share the gospel with them and seek to persuade them to consider his message.

The Explanation Video of The Cause Circle

The Evangelism Linebacker explains the Cause Circle below.

The “ABC” notation in the Persuade section of THE Cause Circle is a short-hand way of capturing three key essentials of this disciple-making focus. These three keys we’re driving toward in our evangelistic efforts are:

Accept Christ.

This is the point in time when someone believes the gospel message and trusts in Jesus as their only hope of salvation.

Belong to a church.

The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 that we shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together. It is vitally important to help newly converted teenagers connect to other Christians so that they can learn how to follow Jesus and grow strong roots in their newfound faith.

Commit to THE Cause.

Teens who come to Christ and connect to a church should also be challenged to commit to THE Cause of making disciples who make disciples. They must be motivated and equipped to live and give the gospel in word and deed and multiply.

Print THE Cause Circle for your own use.

Thanks for Dare2Share for making this evangelism training tool available.

Is Relational Evangelism in the Old Testament?

God's been good to meA reader submitted a question about evangelism in the Old Testament.

I’d love to be steered toward some Old Testament passages that relate to “Relational Evangelism” any passages come to mind?

Part of how I answer the question is rooted in how I define evangelism and relational evangelism.  So let’s start with these

My definition of evangelism

I consider evangelism as the entire process

  • of a person awakening to their spiritual restlessness
  • seeking answers to that restlessness
  • hearing how Jesus is the way God satisfies that thirst.
  • hearing about our sinful condition before God.
  • hearing the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and our need to repent
  • the call to place faith in Christ and live as a follower of Jesus.

Every conversation about faith, every rumination in the late night hours, every invitation to church, every sermon heard, every bible verse read, every small group conversation all become “seeds” that that the Lord uses in the drawing process.

Since I’m a Presbyterian pastor, I choose to use an excellent definition of personal evangelism, as adopted by the General Assembly (1990).

Joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign love of God, and calling people to repentance, to personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to active membership in the church, and to obedient service in the world.

I’ve written about this definition before.  See these articles:

This definition of evangelism has guided me since the early part of the last decade and I have chosen to live it out in my own personal lifestyle of evangelism.

Evangelism involves me telling the first hand stories of God’s activity in my life.  In the course of doing that, I can talk about how I started my relationship with Christ and how my friends can do the same.

A stricter definition of Evangelism

A stricter definition of evangelism would focus exclusively on the presentation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

In this view, all of the process leading up to the sharing of the gospel would be “pre-evangelistic” seed planting.  An example of this is seen in Doug Cecil’s book “7 Principles of the Evangelistic Life”

Evangelism is an event and not a process. We are to do the work of an evangelist. The definition of evangelism has two main parts: information and invitation. One part without the other is out of balance. One should not think of presenting an invitation without any information. And likewise, providing only the information without an invitation to trust Christ will leave the listener frustrated and still unsaved. After a person trusts Christ, instruction in the spiritual life starts the person down the road toward spiritual maturity.”

On the one hand, I agree with his definition of evangelism.  A strict biblical interpretation of meaning of evangelism would be the actual proclamation of the gospel.

On the other hand, I would see all the appropriate activity and conversations leading up to that particular moment as part of the evangelistic process as people walk through stages of their journey to Christ.  He would call that “witnessing.”  It’s a slight difference of nuance.

My definition of Relational Evangelism

Before getting to some Old Testament passage, I need to share my perspective on Relational Evangelism.  This style focuses on doing good, living good, so that your lifestyle attracts spiritual curiosity.  “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” Matthew 5:16 (NLT)

I look at relational evangelism this way:

  • Living in such a way that your faith is obvious AND
  • Being intentional in talking about the gospel
  • In the context of intentional relationships

It is living in such a way (actions) and speaking regularly (Words) that your friends know you are an approachable Christian they can talk over their own spiritual issues.

Relational Evangelism in the Old Testament

In one sense, evangelism in the strict sense is not seen in the Old Testament.   Since the proclamation of evangelism is Jesus centered, you’ll not find evidence of such in the Old Testament, which only foreshadowed Christ.

However, we can see that the covenant people were to be active witnesses of their faith.

They were to live out their faith and tell stories of all that God had done.

The exhortations that speak to me the most are found in the Psalms.  The people of Israel were to tell of the goodness of the Lord.

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Isaiah 63:7 I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us— yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

I see where parents should teach their faith to their children

I see where believers were to talk about God’s goodness and faithfulness.

The Psalms are full of summaries of what God has done in history so that people could remember the stories.

I would argue that all of this is a predecessor to relational evangelism we practice today.  The members of the covenant community were called to talk about their faith with their friends.

Coaching Corner

Can we tell of ALL the deeds of the Lord with our non-Christian friends?  Can we share “the many good things He has done?”

Think back over the last 30 days. How have you seen God’s kindness at work in your life?

You might see evidence of God’s work in:

  • Guidance
  • Healing
  • Love
  • Forgiveness
  • Speaking to you
  • Growing a particular fruit of the Spirit
  • A season of testing
  • To be a blessing in the life of another

With whom can you share a story this week?

7 Observations from Fox News’ Kristen Powers’ Testimony

Christianity Today recently released an article you may have seen, Fox News’ Highly Reluctant Jesus Follower.  It’s a worthy article to read Kristen Powers’ first hand personal testimony of how she became a follower of Jesus.

Kristen Powers' Testimony

It is getting a lot of airplay at the moment (I must have seen it 30 times already in personal Facebook feed, and uncountable times in my Twitter feed).    If you haven’t read it yet, click on the link to read it.

Her testimony shows me 7 important principles of personal evangelism that we can all remember as we share our faith in Christ with people who mean a lot to us.

7 Principles Seen in Kristen Powers’ Testimony

1.  Evangelism is a process.

Some people would define evangelism strictly as an event – the verbal proclamation of the gospel.  Instead, I see evangelism as a process.

The conversion process is not always instant or dramatic like the Apostle Paul’s.  Powers’ story tells us the whole process of her life.

She covers the journey of awakening, gathering evidence, reflecting on information learned, doing some reading, and talking out loud with friends about what one is learning of God.

It is a process of sowing, watering, cultivating, tending, weeding, and preparing a fruit for harvest.

2.  Spiritual thirst propels a search.

Spiritual thirst is what opens the doors to great spiritual conversations.   Spiritual thirst is the underlying motive that people have to seek after God, to start and continue their search for God.  Powers experienced spiritual thirst in her restlessness that kept propelling her to return to hear Tim Keller’s sermon.  That Spiritual thirst also propelled her to seek out that friend who recommended the Bible Study.

I write about this elsewhere on the blog, so follow this link to the spiritual thirst tutorial

3.  God can reveal Himself

Powers writes about a mystical encounter with Christ that even she had a hard time processing.  God can choose to reveal himself to a person who is seeking Him.  It can be part of the process that God uses to bring about a faith awakening.

4.  A good question can help the process.

Powers’ boyfriend asked a critical question at good time.  The force of that question was life changing.  It triggered the restlessness that lead to an intense search for the truth.  Sometimes, people need to hear a question, not a proclamation.

Imagine the boyfriend had shared the gospel at that time.  The results could have been dramatically different.  Wisdom continues to show us that sometimes, we need to be patient in the process.

5.  People need time.

People need time to

  • Consider the new information being shared in the teaching
  • Clear up misconceptions about God.
  • Trust Christians (as many have likely encountered aggressive evangelists).
  • Be willing to surrender to Christ.

Even though we have an urgency to share the gospel, we know that people need time to process.

6.  A credible witness.

A credible witness can change a person’s perspective.  The gentle witness of Powers’ boyfriend helped her journey to faith.  This is where lifestyle evangelism has an important role in demonstrating the work of Jesus in a person’s life.

Keller’s preaching also presented a credible witness.  The logic and reasoning helped persuade Powers to the truth of Christ, even if she was unwilling to accept it personally for a season.

Relational Evangelism works.  Your life can help change a person’s mind about Jesus.   

7.  People need a safe place.

Redeemer Presbyterian became that safe place.  The Bible Study became that safe place.  Questions can be asked, answers can be sought.  Pre-Christian people making the first steps to come to a Christian small group are demonstrating a step of faith on their part. To some extent, that is a reflection of their spiritual thirst.  It tells me they are open to studying spiritual things and perhaps might actually seek a relationship with Christ.

Small groups can be a wonderful place to explore the truth, consider the claims of Jesus, and wrestle with those claims.

My own Personal Evangelism Teaching on DVD

DVD Evangelism Conversations

I have a DVD (or digital download) set that focuses on a conversational style evangelism that would be effective in:

  • casual conversation between friends
  • causal conversation between strangers

Read more about the Effective Evangelism Conversations in the store.  I believe it can help you understand the process of evangelism as I teach it.

It is a recording of a live seminar I gave in 2012.

Book Review: Living Dangerously, Shawn Anderson

LivingDangerouslyCoverThe Great Commission calls each of us to “Go and make disciples.”  Your lifestyle plays a part in that process.  Eventually, you’ll need to talk about your faith in Christ and share the gospel, but your lifestyle and your character will play a role in your witness.

What areas of your character significantly impact another person’s journey to faith?  Are there identifiable character traits that impact your evangelism?

Shawn Anderson makes a significant contribution to answering this question in his book Living Dangerously: Seven Keys to Intentional Discipleship.   He did a national study (in the USA) of adult conversion experiences to see what were some common characteristics of a person who led someone to start following Christ.

Anderson asks adult converts to think of key influencers in their journey to faith and what characteristics played a significant role in their decision to follow Christ.

It’s not a study of new converts and their background, but what about their “key influencers” that helped lead them to faith in Christ?

The focus

In my reading so far, this is a different angle to the effective evangelism question.  Anderson’s work is not a study of evangelism techniques, as in

  • memorize this presentation,
  • develop this argument,
  • seek after the lost,
  • build relationships, etc.

There are plenty of books available on these evangelism approaches, the spiritual beliefs of unbelievers, and church growth methods about attracting people to Jesus via missional communities or attractional church methods.   Yet, Anderson saw a gap – there are not many books focused on the discipler – the person who is instrumental in helping a person find faith in Christ.

He choses that term based on the Great Commission.   Anderson intentionally makes a distinction between a discipler (all of us) and an evangelist (a particularly gifted person or office in the church).  In the context of his book, this is a helpful distinction to understand.

I determined that I would uncover the mysteries of discipleship by asking people about their conversion process, so conducted a nationwide study to better understand how people became followers of Jesus. I hypothesized that people are led to Jesus when there is someone who takes a special interest in their salvation.

My thesis was that this person is especially influential in the lives of unbelievers when his or her life reflects Jesus, the greatest teacher of disciples. The results revealed that, indeed, individuals were influenced to commit their lives to Jesus by people who modeled Jesus in their lives.

The 7 top characteristics

Discipleship involves creating disciples out of unbelievers.  Our role is to introduce people to Jesus.  As such, Anderson identifies 7 character traits of the disciplemaker that are influential.

  1. Loving
  2. Faithful
  3. Authentic
  4. Knowledgeable
  5. Trustworthy
  6. Caring
  7. Passionate

These are the character traits of a disciple maker that had the most influence in helping an adult become a believer in Christ.

Each chapter explores these character traits in fuller detail, particularly focused on how to develop this trait a little more in your own life.  For example, in the chapter on “Knowledgeable,” Anderson writes:

“Nevertheless, unbelievers indicated that there were explicit indications of knowledgeable disciplers. They revealed that knowledgeable disciplers studied the Word of God, made the Scriptures relevant, and welcomed biblical questions . . .Some factual knowledge is essential in making disciples, but what seems to matter more to them is our ability to make the Bible relevant to their lives.” (71).

If some bible knowledge is important, then Anderson takes the step to call us into personal devotions, self-feeding, as well as consuming sermons.  We need to understand ourselves how the Bible is relevant to our life.

Lifestyle Evangelism from Paul

Anderson’s research confirms that verbal proclamation can be supported through the characteristics of our lifestyle.  The Apostle Paul’s character witness was just as a important as his verbal witness. He lives out lifestyle evangelism when we worked among the Thessalonian church.  He writes:

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.  Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.   Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2: 6-12 (NIV)

Anderson’s research helps to identify particular characteristics that we can develop that are effective in relational evangelism.

Order your Copy

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Personal Evangelism in the Course of Life

RunnerLegs123rfHow do I incorporate evangelism in the ordinary course of life?

You have your own routines of daily life and if you are like me, you do not want evangelism to be an appointment at 4pm on Friday in the local park.

So how do I incorporate personal evangelism at this season in my own life?

I walk/run nearly 25k (15.5 miles) each week.  That’s 5k a day for the 5 afternoons I do that.

If it rains, I use the free stairwell in our apartment building for some good cardio workout. It’s awesome exercise and I’m proud to be loosing some weight without a gym membership. At first, I walked by myself.  I’d run some.

For the last 3 months, I’ve started walking with a companion.  We spend nearly 5 hours together each week, walking and talking.  Our conversations have covered topics like personal dreams, goals for the future, family stories, weekend activities, and other small talk that covers the natural rhythms of life.  We’ve laughed, shared, and poked a little fun.

Build a relationship

I’ve wanted more faith sharing conversations, as I try to live out my teaching on personal evangelism in the ordinary course of my life.

Earlier this year, I refreshed my prayer list of people I know personally who do not know the Lord.  In my current situation in life, I was bothered by the fact that my own sphere of influence with non-Christians was small.  I had to add new relationships.  I started asked the Lord to bring more people into my life that didn’t’ know the Lord.

Soon after that, my walking companion started joining me on my afternoon walks.  He freely admits that he doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord, nor desires to attend a church anywhere.  Christians are hypocrites and some of the meanest people he knows.

Talk about my own relationship with Jesus

As we started walking together, I began to pray for normal opportunities to talk about my faith in Jesus.  By normal, I mean an unforced, un-manipulated opening in the conversation where I could talk about my spiritual life without the dynamics of pressure, fear, or awkwardness.

God has answered those prayers.

In the middle of conversations about work, life, hobbies and relationships, we’ve covered topics like

  • What is the gospel message?
  • What is the Church?
  • How do I have a relationship with Jesus?
  • What is our small group topic about?
  • How do I disciple my children in the faith?
  • Who is Jesus?

My faith is part of who I am, what I do, and it is normal for me to talk about family devotions, bible reading, and church activities as part of conversation.  I’ve not pressed my friend to talk about his faith, though he seems comfortable comparing is faith-less life with mine.

I’ve invited him to small group, to read the Bible together, and invited him to church, but he has yet to accept any of those invitations.

Pray for Spiritual Thirst

I keep praying for more conversations, and now I pray for eyes to see the evidence of spiritual thirst.

Yesterday, he brought up the question:

The God of the Old Testament is of wrath, and the God of the New Testament is Love.

I was ready with an answer from my reading of God Behaving Badly.

I’ve noticed a shift in the last several months in our conversations.  My friend is now asking about my church, asking about Bible reading, and asking about learning more about who Jesus is.

So I continue to pray for his journey to faith.

Coaching Corner

Take a few moments and reflect

  1. What stands in the way of you having more spiritual conversations this week?
  2. Which of these 7 habits do you want to develop this week.

Resource to help you

Grow in Personal Evangelism

In this 70 minute MP3 AUDIO recording on personal evangelism you will learn:

  • How church invitations are part of evangelism
  • How to discover and share your own journey to faith
  • What you can say about the gospel message.
  • How to personally lead someone to faith in Christ.

Each of these four sections will be developed, with suggested take away growth step, “What can I do in the next 90 days to move to the next stage.”  Now in the store as a digital download.  You will need some kind of MP3 player on your computer to listen to this file.

Availability: Instantly after purchase.

Price: $10.00 USD for instant download.  You will have a 5 day window to download this recording in case you are unable to do so right away.

Order your copy here from the EvangelismCoach.org store.

Image credit: korzeniewskidaniel / 123RF Stock Photo