Advent Devotional 12/19: 4 Steps to Personal Evangelism
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. (Acts 17:22–23. NIV)
When we were in Cambodia this past summer, I got to teach a few Bible Studies. One of them was on personal evangelism. I discerned a 4 Step method that could be helpful in our own efforts to share Christ.
The steps are:
Connect. Evangelism starts with listening! Try to understand the other person’s perspective on God, spirituality and faith, and look for common ground.
Correct. Most people have incorrect ideas about God. These could skew their progress in faith, or prevent them from being willing to consider the true God. These misconceptions could be due to bad experiences, bad teaching, misunderstanding, or some other error. While not getting bogged down in this, it is helpful to address the major issues that are preventing people from coming to God.
Christ. No evangelistic effort is complete if we do not talk about Jesus. We should tell people the story of Jesus in the Bible; who he was and what he did. We should also tell people OUR story of Jesus, how we came to believe in him.
Call. The final step is to call people to action. In order for people to become Christian, they need to repent of their sin/unfaith/rebellion and put their trust in Jesus for forgiveness, salvation, and lordship to new life and eternal life. We can graciously invite people to do this, leading them in short, simple prayer statements.
Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul uses something like this method in Acts 17 to evangelize to people without a Judeo-Christian background. He visits Athens and has a chance to speak at a meeting of philosophers and “idea-people.” Think of it as an ancient TED Talk.
He connects with them by understanding their current religious situation. He finds common ground in the Athenians altar to an “unknown god.” And he uses this idea of an “unknown god” as a starting point to talk about the true God.
Then he addresses the major error in the Athenian’s religious approach, and that is idolatry. He explains that the unknown God is actually the true God, creator of the universe, who is himself not created or made as idols are.
He then tells the Athenians to repent of idolatry, ending by warning them about Jesus, who will come as the judge of all people, having been proved through resurrection from death.
Not everyone believed Paul, but some did, and others were intrigued.
Evangelism is not about converting or convincing people. It is about explaining Christ to people. The results are not up to us. There will be a variety of reactions, and we should be ready to patiently address people in different stages of faith. Those who believe, we should help to grow as disciples of Jesus.
How about you? Is there someone you feel called to share Christ with? How can you connect with them spiritually? May God give you the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and boldness to share your faith with others.
Creator of all people, you love the world and everyone in it. You desire that all your children would know you and receive life through Jesus Christ. So many in this world are bound by the deception of sin and unfaith. We ask that you would use us as your messengers to tell people about your son, Jesus. Give us wisdom and courage to engage with people. Most of all, give us your very own love for them, so that we are not speaking out of self-interest, but out of genuine concern for people’s souls.
We pray that as we share honestly and boldly, you would open people’s hearts and minds to your Gospel. Give them faith to believe in Jesus, and give them new and eternal life.
We do not want to grow simply by gathering more Christians at Kardia, though we are grateful for those who will come. But we want to grow primarily through spiritual birth, through the conversion of souls from death to life. Make us fruitful as a congregation, spiritually vital, so that many sons and daughters can be birthed in Jesus Christ at Kardia in 2020. We pray for an increase in baptisms and confirmations in 2020, and look forward to the joyful testimonies of people experiencing new life in Christ.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.