Recently a friend called me and asked me about using the “Way of the Master.” The “Way of the Master” evangelism method promotes a very in your face, confrontational style of evangelism, and it has been effective for some. Other evangelism methods we have seen developed over the last thirty years plus include the Four Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosions, F.A.I.T.H., the evangecube, and the old Roman’s Road.
I would argue that culture constantly changes. We must exegete the culture we live in just like we would the Scriptures. We see examples of this in the gospel when Paul preaches his famous sermon about an unknown God in Acts 17. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public, a third of adults under 30 years old is religiously unaffiliated today. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. In a population that has grown up ignorant of the bible or church life, the former methods of evangelism may not be as effective. It also appears that as a christian influence slips away, a more hindu view is gripping American's thinking and theology as seen in the article, "We Are All Hindus Now." I would like to share a few items that would be helpful in evangelism today:
- Be Relationship Oriented. In my experience, almost every case that I have led someone to the Lord over the past ten years, I have had a relationship with for some time. Usually a meeting as friends then that becomes an evangelism opportunity. You must be willing to be available and take time to build relationships with people. People who are far from God want to know you care about them first, and that they are not another notch on your evangelism belt.
- Let’s Have Better Fights. Let’s just admit it we all end up in a fight or love a good fight, especially Southern Baptist! The problem is most of our fights are small and petty compared to real problems in the world. Instead of fighting Starbucks on their choice of holiday coffee cups, let’s fight racism and prejudice. Instead of fighting over the color of carpet in the church, let’s go to war with poverty in our community and make a difference in someone’s life. Jesus didn't help everyone in need when he was alive, but he did help some. We can't help everyone, but we can help someone. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves which makes a difference in the world, why not the local church? Jesus met both physical and spiritual needs. Why shouldn’t we?
- Be Patient. This is just an issue of expecting more time. The apostle Paul was converted in a single event, but Lydia's heart was opened slowly in Acts 16. In my experience, evangelizing someone usually takes at least three to six months and in many cases a year of hearing the gospel over and over. We must show perseverance and persistence. In John 3:37 Jesus said, “One sows and another reaps.” You may find that you are often part of a process not an event.
- Meet People Where They Are. The apostle Paul did not expect Greeks to cross-Jewish cultural lines to become believers. In 1 Corinthians 9:22 Paul said, “I have become all things to all men.” Certainly this has parameters, we do not become like an adulterer or thief in order to reach them. We never violate scripture’s boundaries for what is sin, but we are able to we flex. We can and should cross cultural lines to meet those far from God where they are.