In Part 1 we talked about the first step in evangelism – believing the Evangel.
Now in this post we will be talking about how to take the next steps after that.
If we are looking for a biblical example of someone sharing their faith John 9 is a good place to look.
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us.The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”
The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
The blind man here is a good evangelist. When people don’t like his views and they try to draw him into a debate he will not engage on their terms.
“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
This is a great example how we can share our faith. We don’t need to answer every objection. We can stick to our story.
I know a church planter in India who uses three chairs to help people share their story. The first chair represents who we were before we met Jesus. The second chair represents how we met Jesus and the third chair represents how we are different now. The first chair for the man in John 9 was obvious. He was blind. And if we think about it long enough we will realize that we were blind too in one way or another. All Christians can sing “Amazing Grace” where it says, “I once was lost but now I’m found, I was blind but now I see.”
What were you like before you met Jesus? What was your blindness? Mine was selfishness. I was so selfish that I objectified everything and everyone around me. I expected the world to revolve around my preferences.
The second chair represents how you met Jesus. Be able to describe the time in your life where you crossed the line of from doubt to faith. For the blind man it was simple “He put mud on my eyes and I washed in the pool and then I could see.” It does not have to be a dramatic occurrence, but reflect on your faith journey until you know when you came to believe the Evangel for the first time and how it happened.
The third chair is how you are different now. “Now I can see.” For me, I have to admit I am still selfish. However, I am WAY less selfish than I used to be. My parents can attest to that. I still think they are shocked I became a pastor. What an amazing gift of God’s grace in my life. How has God changed you? Are you less proud? Are you less greedy? Are you more selfless?
If you can explain those three parts of your story you are on your way to being a very good evangelist.
But telling our story is really the summit of our evangelism.
I want to talk to you now about the journey to the summit. As the Chinese philosopher once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
Evangelism is not just telling your story. My original definition of evangelism from Part 1 if you recall was,
“evangelism is the art of living in such a way that others hear and see the good news about Jesus. They see it by the generous deeds of kindness we show to others. And they hear it by the words we speak testifying to what God has done in Christ.”
Evangelism is a lifestyle that leads up to telling our story. Without that lifestyle we will never get a chance to speak out.
Everts and Schaupp
In their research based book, I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus, Everts and Schaupp map out the spiritual journey from skeptic to believer in phases.
1. From Distrust to trust – trusting a Christian
2. From Complacent to Curious – the shift of spiritual thirst.
3. From Closed to change to open to change – hardest threshold to cross (personal life)
4. From Meandering to Seeking.
5. The actual conversion to the Kingdom of God (surrender).
Their book reminds us that evangelism is really a process.
I think a great way to think about the process of evangelism is by looking at the work of artist and sculptor Patrick Dougherty. Patrick designs and builds homes out of sticks. He begins with one stick at a time a slowly bends and wraps those sticks around each other until he has made a beautiful work of art. He has done over 200 of these sculptures around the country.
Living a lifestyle of evangelism is like building a stick sculpture. You add one stick at a time and slowly over time you come to see that something beautiful emerges. Those sticks are the small comments about your faith here and there when talking to your friends. They are conversations at the bus stop, discussions over lunch, and stories shared at office parties. Each one seems small and insignificant in itself. They seem like tiny little sticks. But with prayer and with the Spirit working in the lives of our friends, we can see these little sticks become a beautiful nest where someone can find refuge.
In some of his consulting with other churches Pastor Tim Keller from New York City has laid out ten practical steps to help Christians share their faith.
1. Let people around you know you are a Christian in a d natural unforced way
2. Ask friends about their faith and just listen
3. Listen to your friends problem - maybe offer to pray for them
4. Share your problems with others- testify to how your faith helps you
If these four steps seem to get them interested then move on to 5-7. If they are not interested keep repeating these four steps til they are.
5. Give them a book to read
6. Share your story (like we talked about above with the 3 chairs)
7. Answer objections and questions
If they are still interested after these steps, then move to 8-10. However, if they are still coming up with more and more objections you may need to wait a while.
8. Invite them to a church event
9. Offer to read the bible with them
10. Take them to an explore course
William Wilberforce who was the great activist against slavery in Britain is an example of someone who understood that his friends would need to go through phases if they were going to come to faith.
In fact, according to the his biographer Eric Metaxes, Wilberforce would prepare lists of his friends’ names and next to their names he would list subjects he could bring up with each friend that might launch them into a conversation about spiritual issues.
He even called these subjects and, questions “launchers” and was always looking for opportunities to bring them up in conversation.
Isn’t that a great idea?!
I recommend doing the same things with your list of friends.
Once we have our list of launchers, and we are prepared to share our story in 3 parts, we still face the biggest obstacle of evangelism – Fear. Too many Christians are held back by fear.
Achieving fearlessness will be the subject of Part 3