I’ve been wrestling with the messiness of relational (some call it friendship) evangelism combined with verbal proclamation and how to teach it to others. We’re seeing lots of spiritual conversations, but not a ton of those are resulting in bringing people to a point of decision. Some of that is the environment we’re in, but some of that is our lack of effectiveness. Each spiritual conversation we have is so varied that there’s no cut and dry method. I landed on this phrase I picked up from Cru Press Green that might help us get traction…
Evangelism is both a process and an event.
I stole this paragraph from a CPG article that summarizes this statement well. Launching from a place of understanding that everyone is somewhere on the spiritual journey pictured below…
it is key to realize that moving people along that line is both a process and an event, we can continue to reach out to a person in many different ways and forms of witness – e.g., our testimony, a book or podcast, serving them in some way, hanging out, playing sports together, inviting them to be around other Christians at a Cru meeting or social event, or coming along to church. But since sharing the Gospel is also the event of them hearing the Gospel, there will need to be a time, or perhaps many times, when someone verbally shares the Gospel with that person. For some non-believers, we will be involved in both the process and the event, while for others we may only be in on the event, and others will be in on the longer process. Whatever our role is, we walk in the Spirit and let God use us in His overall plan in other people’s lives.
What I really like is that the article points out that sharing the Gospel includes people hearing the Gospel…with words, but doesn’t discount the effort we make to serve, invite and spend time with people. Maybe I’ll put it like this – verbal proclamation of Jesus is the backbone of evangelism that is surrounded by the mission to care for, love and serve those in our sphere of influence.
How do you train students in the reality that evangelism is both a process and an event?
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