In my last post, I talked about the need for us to model Paul’s method of evangelism in Athens — reach out, build relationships with folks, and then engage them with the gospel where they are on a daily basis.
But often we don’t do what Paul models for us. We don’t engage people where they are on a daily basis. Why? Why don’t we do that? Well, let me offer you:
4 Stumbling Blocks to Everyday Evangelism and How to Remove Them
(1) We Don’t Have Relationships with Non-Believers
As Christians it is easy to focus our entire lives around the church. So much so that everyone we know either goes to our church or another church in town. When you only have relationships with Christians, however, it is hard to engage the lost on a consistent basis because you don’t know anyone who is lost. Everyone you know already believes in Jesus as their Savior.
So one stumbling block to everyday evangelism is not knowing enough lost people, which means we need to build some relationships. I would encourage you to start building relationships with non-believers because I believe:
Relationships are the key to being able to spread the gospel consistently.
You are more likely to talk with a friend about Jesus than a complete stranger. Think about it, how many of you are actually going to approach a random stranger on the street or go knock on a door. Unless someone makes you do it, most of you are probably not going to. So if we are going to do everyday evangelism, we need to look for people to build relationships with.
Plus, I believe relationship evangelism is more effective. Research tells us that 43% of people come to Christ through a friend or co-worker. I believe it. At the last Conference I attended, the host took a poll as to how people came to Christ. The largest part of the 7 or 8 thousand in attendance said they came to Christ because someone they knew told them about Jesus.
Now I am not saying street evangelism or evangelistic events aren’t effective. People get saved through those avenues everyday. The most effective way, however, seems to be through relational evangelism. So we need to focus on building relationships with folks.
You Have the Time to Build Relationships with Non-believers
You may not think you have the opportunities to do that given your schedule or life stage. But you do. You have the opportunity in the things you already are involved in each and every week. Think about about.
(1) Extracurricular Activities
Most of you have kids or grandkids who are involved in sports or some other extracurricular activity. These activities are an excellent opportunity for you to build relationship with other parents or grandparents. You already have something in common — your child plays on the same team or participates in the same activity — so the hard part is already over. Now, you just have to work on getting to know the other parents a little better.
Another place you have an opportunity to meet non-believers and build relationships with them is at work. This is one thing I miss about working in the secular world — the ease with which I could build relationships with my co-workers who weren’t believers and then speak into their lives.
One way I got to know my co-workers well was by going to lunch with them. Now I didn’t do that everyday. Eating out is expensive, but I did go out with them every now and again. I would encourage you to do the same.
If lunch doesn’t work for you, invite a person in the office over for dinner, to watch the game, go golfing, hunting, or whatever else it is that you do.
(3) Neighbors and Re-Connect with Old Friends
Still another way to meet and build relationships with non-believers is your neighborhood, or for you to reconnect with your non-Christian friends from school.
Cookouts are a great way to meet your neighbors or reconnect with your old high school buddies. Invite them over one Saturday afternoon and just hang out, get to know them, or find out what they have been up to, in the case of those you haven’t seen in a while.
(4) Shift the Setting You Do Things In
Often times as Christians, we like to do things in Christian settings. We play sports in a Christian league, drink coffee at a Christian coffee shop, look for books in a Christian book store, or hold Bible studies at the church instead of out in the community.
However, if you isolate yourself and live in a Christian bubble, you aren’t going to meet any non-Christians. Instead of isolating yourself, find a way to do the things you normally do out among non-believers.
For me this means spending some of my day working from the coffee shop. I could spend my day in the comfort of my study, but I don’t. Instead I spend most of my afternoons at Starbucks.
Through the years I have had the opportunity to talk to a number of people, to build relationships with them, and to speak the gospel into their lives. I am not even aggressive at getting to know others. I just go, do my work and every so often God places someone in my path that I don’t know, we become friends, and we end up talking about Jesus every now and again.
Another example is our church’s Friday Morning Men’s Bible Study. We have that at IHOP every Friday at 6:30am. The reason we do that is so we can have breakfast and coffee together, but also so we can be a witness for Jesus in our community.
So there are a number of ways to build relationships with folks, we just have to do it.
Question for Reflection
- How do you build relationships with non-believers?
Post adapted from the sermon: Spread the Gospel – Growth Through Discipleship – Week 5