I’ve often listened to personal testimony stories that have the following elements:
- A friend of mine had been praying for me.
- I had lots of conversations with my friend about their personal faith.
- I was intrigued by my friends desire to serve the poor with their church
- I was invited to church.
- I heard about what Jesus Christ did for me.
- It finally clicked, and I gave my life to the Lord.
Not every personal testimony has all of these experiences, but there are several points in the journey to faith where the influence of Christian friends makes a big difference.
The new believer is often excited about the difference that Jesus has made that they start telling their friends about finding God.
Making friends for Christ
In the book, Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism, Dr. Wayne McDill describes how effective evangelism can be, and should be, a normal, purposeful, outflow of life.
- “You shall be my witnesses, Jesus said,
- To Jerusalem—your own household.
- To Judea—your neighbor.
- To Samaria—your enemy.
- To the remotest part of the earth—the stranger.”
I found his book extremely practical in helping people find normal ways to share their faith in the midst of their friendships, without having to go out and confront the stranger with their sin.
He doesn’t shy away from the observation that relational evangelism takes time, but balances the sense of urgency with the responsibility to respect boundaries that people setup.
He’s especially helpful in conversational and relational skills that are useful to personal evangelism:
- Taking an inventory of friends.
- Listening skills
- Growing a deeper relationship
- Earning the right to be heard and share.
- Sharing the gospel in your home with friends
- The three story method of personal testimony.
Several years later in another seminar I had the strange feeling I had been there before. This time the subject was “soul winning.” But the approach was the same as that I had been taught for selling encyclopedias. The aim was to “get a decision.” That was the test of success, just as in the book sales. The same things were covered, from how to approach the house all the way to four or five separate “closes.” The super soul winner who taught the course (I forget his name) promised us success if we followed his plan.
Secular people need “evangelistic pathways” in the church. They need the time to move toward a faith commitment. Evangelistic strategies can include more dialogue, question and answer, short courses, seeker meetings, and especially small groups. Secular people do not accept the Christian view of reality. So the witness cannot assume that view when witnessing. He will often need to challenge the assumptions post-modernists take for granted and reveal their inconsistency in a good-natured way.
Much evangelism strategy today is deductive. It is based on thinking from the general to the particular. That means we begin with laws and concepts instead of with the individual person. With an inductive approach to evangelism we are interested in the “particulars” of “individual” persons as the starting point for our witness. We move from there to the “general” and “universal.” This will be clear as we approach our task
Evangelism must aim beyond decisions to disciples. We must never be satisfied to count our converts before there is evidence of transformation.
Joe Aldrich cites statistics that reveal the results of faulty evangelistic theory and methods. The relationship of a convert to the person who witnesses to him is critical, as well as the number of times he is exposed to the gospel. “More than 80 percent of those who trust Christ and remain members of a local church are led to the Lord by a friend. Furthermore, they have had over five exposures to the gospel before their conversion.
In addition, “More than 70 percent of those who ‘trust Christ’ and drop out of the church are led to the Lord by a stranger. These converts average a little over two exposures to the gospel before their conversion.”
Order your copy Making Friends for Christ
Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism
If you get your copy from this link, Amazon will give me a few nickles to support our work in Latin America.
Do you need help in Personal Evangelism?
Start here with this MP3 Download on Evangelism Training from the store ($10) to help you see where you need to grow.
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.
It’s a 70 minute audio file that takes just a few minutes to download, but it may help you answer the question:
What can you do in the next 90 days to grow in your evangelism skills?
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