Monday, December 16, 2013

What's Your Best Method?

I heard a story about a person criticizing a preacher years ago for his method of evangelism. When the preacher asked what style of evangelism they used the person was left stammering for an answer. Then the preacher said, "I prefer my style of doing evangelism to your style of not doing evangelism."
So, what is your style of evangelism? Kinda forces you to choose after reading that story doesn't it?
But seriously, what's your preferred approach? We know that we are to make disciples and preach the gospel "as we go." So how would you prefer? A door to door style hit and run expression of the gospel? A soapbox on a busy urban corner? Leaving a gospel tract on a plane or in a restaurant? Or maybe you just want to talk to children in Sunday School, or folks at a rescue mission. So what is it?
It has been suggested for sometime that "Friendship Evangelism" is a more effective method. To do this though, you have to be a genuine friend. Not just a surface friend by asking "key" questions suggested by EE or FAITH evangelism programs. But the kind of friendship that earns the right to say something to someone when they are going through tough times. The kind of friendship that earns the right to be heard on weightier matters than what's the score of the game or what's happening on your favorite TV show.
In fact one of the complaints I've heard from students of evangelistic programs is that they seem to suggest a utilitarian friendship, one that is friendly for a purpose. The purpose is noble, even great, to share the gospel. But people don't like to be 'utilized.' By used car salesmen or evangelists. It is no wonder that post-moderns view truth-claims as a method to control or abuse.
Now, I always think sincerity trumps a utilitarian approach to anything. (Unless maybe you're an executioner.) And the idea of making friendships to be a genuine friend and perhaps have an opportunity to share the gospel at the right time is right.
But, does it take God time? Is sincere friendship the power of God unto salvation? Well I think most would agree that both of these answers are "no."
That being said it does appear, as in my life, God does 'take' time to pursue and reveal Himself, and to bring about regeneration and salvation thru the communication of the gospel.
How do we account for the effectiveness of friend sharing the gospel with a friend as opposed to a more confrontational style? I'm not sure I know the answer to this. But I suspect it may have something to do with the truth being communicated in love. God does seem to use the love of a caring friend. THis is not to say evangelists from Billy Graham to Whitefield didn't love the masses that gathered to hear them. I believe they loved the Lord and He gave them a love for the lost.
Still, when you get to know someone and love them, even if they're difficult to love, it may be akin to preparing the soil for the seed.
The problem with friendship evangelism is that almost any other kind is easier.
Did Jesus call us to the easiest methods of sharing the gospel and making disciples?