In the increasingly hardened culture of today,
it’s easy to feel like this about evangelism
but by walking in the Spirit, it’s possible for this to change to this:
And truly, I am so excited about sharing with you what I’ve learned, for though our methods need to change with the culture, the power of the gospel remains the same. Even if you are an introvert, as I am, you can do this. For when you move with His Spirit, you are not alone, and you will experience power from on high.
If you have not yet experienced being part of the process of seeing a life changed by the gospel, I am praying this will be the year it happens.
This community is one I am so proud of, for you are living your faith, and I am truly, so excited at what might happen this fall.
This week we’ll begin with the vision for the fall.
It’s all about working with His Spirit,
stepping into where He is already at work,
for what is so exciting about evangelism, is that you are partnering with the God who has POWER
to absolutely transform a life.
With my friend Ron as an illustration, a man who came to faith at the age of 70, let me walk through the principles we, I pray, will practice together this fall.
PRINCIPLES FOR SPIRIT-LED EVANGELISM
1. EYES TO SEE. Ask God to help you see people in whom He is at work. Paul
Little said, “I’ve never met anyone God has used in personal evangelism who did
not have a sense of expectancy with the people in his path.”
I knew God was at work in Ron’s life when his wife Debbie (a seeker in our
Bible study) told me that when she came home from her 1st Bible study, Ron
met her at the door and peppered her with questions.
2. HEARTS TO LOVE. No one wants to be a target, another scalp for your belt. We
must love well, even if they recoil! The old method of door to door evangelism
is quite ineffective in our increasingly hardened culture. (It still works in
many countries — but not our western world.) We must truly love as Jesus did.
Ron was with FEMA at the time, and had to go away for three months. The best
way we could love Ron was by loving Debbie when she was alone, which was easy
to do. She told him about how that was helping her.
3. EARS TO REALLY HEAR. Rebecca Pippert says we must learn how to be the host in conversation. Paul Little says “Listen to hear what is keeping them from Christ.”
Ask questions that go beyond small talk — and really listen to get to know them. I
love inviting people over for a simple meal and e-mailing them some
non-threatening questions ahead of time to get to know them. When I invited Ron
and Debbie over for a meal, he was so ripe, and so willing to be vulnerable, it
happened very quickly. (It won’t always be that easy.) He said to me, “What you
have been teaching my wife is not what I have heard in church all my life.”
4. HANDS READY TO RAISE THE SAIL. This is the exciting part. When you sense
the wind of the Spirit has come up, be ready to raise the sail by asking more
questions, presenting the gospel, inviting them to an event, or to a seeker’s Bible
study to investigate Jesus.
As I shared, Ron was ripe. That very day we presented the gospel by showing him
Tim Keller’s list of the difference between religion and the gospel. Shortly after first
Debbie and then Ron trusted Christ.
5. FEET TO LEAD DOWN THE NARROW WAY. Disciple them by leading them into the Word, continuing to spend time with them, helping them mature in their faith.
We spent time with Ron and Debbie — one of the big things was his anger issues.
But Ron has such a play-dough heart, that when he couldn’t obey the Ephesians
passage about letting no unkind word come out of his mouth, he went out in the
woods, fell on his knees, and cried out to God to help him. And He has. Ron is
becoming a godly disciple of Jesus Christ, and testified to God’s glory at his
baptism last month. He shared how grateful He is to know Jesus, to experience
both His presence and the tremendous change in his heart.
What I am praying is that together we will practice these principles of eyes, heart, ears, hands, and feet so that by November, you can begin to ask God to show you how you might invite a friend to a Christmas event — possibly a coffee in your home or a friend’s home with the women you have befriended!
But more about that later!
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- How do you feel about evangelism and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:
3. Read John 4:7-30 as an overview and share anything that quickens you.
4. We need eyes to see the people in our path in whom God might be working. How do
you see this in this account?
5. I’m going to suggest putting a little note in your car or near your front door that says:
“Open my eyes, Lord.” Pray, pray, pray that you will really see whom God puts in
your path. Come back and report answers you see this week — I will do it too.
6. How did Jesus demonstrate a heart of love to the woman in Samaria? Find
everything you can.
7. How did He hear underneath her words to her real need?
8. See if you can see a time or times when “the wind came up” and He used his hands
to “lift the mast?” (Hint — He doesn’t get side-tracked.)
9. What evidence can you see that her heart has been changed?
Thursday-Friday: Free Video on John 4 from Tim Keller
10. Share your thoughts or notes on the video.
11. Keller brought out how the gospel isn’t just to “get you to heaven.” This whole account really deals with idols. How might you share with an unbeliever how God has helped you deal with a heart idol?
11. What is your take-a-way and why? Application?
8. See if you can see a time or times when “the wind came up” and He used His hands to “lift the mast”?
The wind came up when she expressed a desire to have this living water Jesus was talking about. When He explained, using a metaphor, that this living water was like a spring of water welling up to eternal life, she didn’t scoff at that, or laugh at the idea. She wanted it and asked for it.
The wind came up when she said truthfully, “I have no husband”. She didn’t give any details, but she answered truthfully, and Jesus pushed forward with finishing the rest of her story for her.
The wind came up when she asked about worship, revealing her desire to understand. Jesus explains to her that true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth.
The wind came up when she mentions the Messiah, and He really hoisted the mast by telling her plainly that He is the Messiah. The wind in that sail propelled her back to town, forgetting that she was the “woman of ill-repute” and telling everyone she saw to come and see this man who knew everything about her and might just be the Messiah.
9. What evidence can you see that her heart has been changed?
She leaves her water jar at the well. She isn’t ashamed anymore or trying to hide from the crowds. She has a purpose right now, and that is to tell others about this Jewish man she just met who knew everything about her – her five husbands and her living situation but he still accepted her. She is moving toward embracing that He just may be the long-awaited Messiah. We’re not told the rest of the story, but I like to imagine that she changed from loving men and having to have a man to loving Jesus more.
Still thinking about how the Samaritan woman knew Jesus wasn’t one of them 🙂 I guess she could have heard some “word of mouth” stuff about Jesus. Basically, Samaritans genetically were Jews with some Assyrian blood… So, would their dress have been different? How much different would their behaviors/culture have been. Their worship WAS different. Jews spent a lot of time in Egypt…so we have two people groups with similar origins in proximity after centuries apart; yet all were Middle Easterners. However, it may not have been “regular” Assyrians moving into the area. History, as per Wikipedia(!), makes it sound as if one group of people that had been conquered were resettled with another group of conquered people, = Samaritans.
What I found interesting from my Wikipedia research, “Along with the Arameans, Armenians, Greeks, and Nabataens, the Assyrians were among the first people to convert to Christianity and spread Eastern Christianity to the Far East.” I couldn’t help but wonder if the mixed background of the Samaritans is what connected the Assyrians to the Gospel and spread Christianity to the Far East.
I just scanned ahead so that I know what to look for in the passage, in case I’m not talking to people in the airport or plane 😉 Anyhow, I burst out laughing when I read in #8 “Hint — He doesn’t get side-tracked.” Now, THAT is the lesson I need to apply more frequently 😀
It is my experience the Lord never fails to give the opportunities when we pray that prayer for them and pray with expectancy. Yesterday I went to get my mail at a bit of an unusual time for me midday and an elderly man was coming out the door. I smiled and said hello and asked how he was doing today. His response sounded a bit down and immediately he shared he had cancer. ( okay Lord here is the answer to my prayer) I cannot remember my words verbatim but did ask him if he knew Jesus. He sharedHhe believed in God but he did not believe in the church. When he and his wife got married the church would not allow them to be married inside the church but only to be married in an outside room.(he named it but I cannot remember) he has not stepped back into a church since. Well he gave me which address he lives at in my community told me his wife’s name and I will be following up. Henis 83 years old and so it is so sad to think that happened probably about 60 years ago. I am praying for what the Lord would have me do next and praising Him for this opportunity. I am excited for a new day and praying with expectancy for new encounters He will bring across my path. All the Glory to His name!!!!! I have to share I do not usually get that bold to ask if they know Jesus. That was all the Holy Spirit giving me that boldness!
wow Liz — you hoisted the sail when the wind came up. He is open. Praying for you to love them well! Such a sad story too.
This is beautiful, Liz.
I so pray there are others praying this opportunity who will cross paths with the ones I am praying for!!!!!Lord PLEASE bring these encounters and use those who love and serve you to reach those i love and I am praying for. Not only my loved ones but all of us here:)
Tim Keller-Just listened and took notes but need to get ready for work. So life giving and encouraging. I hope everyone can listen!!
1 &2: Wow, I had not jumped on here is quite a while, but I had actually been praying and praying about learning how to reach people for Christ in this day and age! In fact, I’d actually had an email written and saved in my “draft” folder (just never sent it) asking you, Dee, if you would write a book about your approach to this!!! Clearly the Lord was already leading you in this direction (or at least to do a study on it here.) So, my thoughts: I believe there are some people with the spiritual GIFT of evangelism, but, like almost all other Spiritual gifts, we are all supposed to practice this, as the Lord leads. (Just like it’s not only those with the GIFT of mercy who are supposed to be merciful, same with giving, helps, hospitality, etc….) I think those with the gift of evangelism can quickly size up a person’s spiritual situation and discern the approach to take a bit more swiftly and often get a positive response more frequently that those of us who do not have this specific gift. That said, I think the main reason we are left on planet earth after we receive Christ is to share Him with others! I am able to do this the most naturally in the context of an established friendship/relationship. My pastor (who is an older man) is always finding ways to constantly ask every person he meets about the Lord, often in what I would consider very unnatural ways…like forcing it. He feels that we should all be bringing it up to ever person we meet. This causes me a lot of anxiety and guilt. I feel like I desperately need some tools to help me guide the conversation/create opportunities in a natural way, because, on the one hand, if i just wait until I see an opening, that maybe once every year or so! On the other hand, I don’t think most people respond well forced, uncomfortable confrontation.
Mary–so good to see you post here dear friend! I love what you said about while some have the gifting of evangelism, we are all called. You reminded me of what I was just reading in 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Thanks Mary E — I am praying about it and so appreciate your encouragement!
So good to see you, Mary. I am also happy for Dee’s teaching and beautiful example in witnessing.
Mary it is wonderful to see you and hear you share. I understand your thoughts here about being so direct. I have a friend sometimes I am just afraid to go out with her for that reason due to my own uncomfortable feelings. I have to examine myself as to where those feelings are coming from. I see her impacting people’s lives though and she is certainly not thinking of herself. Do people talk negatively about her? Yes they do and sadly people in the body of Christ do which makes me sad. But I know Jesus warned that some people will hate us and I think personally that is one of my biggest fears. But i want to die to myself in that area and remember that God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I am forever grateful for the person I knew who was very direct in a loving and winsome way who shared Jesus with me. I love how Paul was always praying for boldness to share and I will continue to do that in my prayers for myself. I am so tired of shrinking back in my fears and my thoughts of people pleasing and my own reputation. I also want to remember when we have this desire to share Christ with others the enemy is going to try and intimidate my thinking and keep me doing it. Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world. The more i die to myself the happier I am becoming.
Those are vey good point Liz. The enemy is of course against all efforts to further the gospel. And, God uses all methods.
What stood out to me from the Tim Keller sermon was the part where Jesus asks her to go get her husband. I now understand why he asked that; he wanted to reveal himself to her and he knew he could “prove” it to her if he knew about her past life. She was convinced by His knowledge of her life.
Just a quick note, though probably not necessary, just want to explain my “absence”! I have just started an intense study through Church with daily homework. I’m realizing I really can’t keep up with 2 studies right now, and though I LOVE this group, I need the in-person fellowship. I will continue to follow “silently” and pray for any requests. Love each of you!
Glad to know Lizzy — cause you are so important here — but so understand!
Today I listened to Tim Keller and was so convicted. I decided to be brave! I had been thinking of a former coworker who worked with me a long time. Recently i saw her at a Christian concert- local Mennonite youth singers.
We had a long conversation and she shared that she is a leader of women in a Buddhist group. Well I listened a long time and felt sad though she said I was the only Christian she had ever shared her beliefs with. Well, I guess that was a dead end. But I will keep praying that my eyes are open to whom the Lord is preparing.
It is good to hear of others experiences though mine was not productive. Sigh
Shirley — you listened — what a credit that she said that you were the only Christian with whom she had shared her beliefs. That’s not a dead end — that’s a huge beginning.
Evangelism is primarily being Jesus with skin on — listening, loving, repeating back to them what they have said so they know they have been heard. I’d do that next when God gives you a chance — let her know you really heard her. I see the Spirit moving here. Loving her and letting her see Jesus in you is a HUGE beginning.
Shirley I so agree with Dee here what you have begun here is HUGE. Listening!!!!! And your friend noted it. I think the enemy wants us to feel so defeated in this especially. If we have hearts that are willing and pray and ask Him we will have opportunities. We may not see anything come to fruition but we are planting seeds and watering. I cannot help but think Ron who was working for FEMA had to have seen in many cases Gods love in action and encountered other believers along the way.
Liz — from what you have shared this week I’m suspecting you might have the gift of evangelism. We are all commanded to share the good news, but you may be one who has the gift.
Dee your words brought tears to my eyes for I have never considered that; for if it is a gift I have not been using it. Just in the last 2 days these 2 scriptures jumped out and I recorded in my journal.
“But all your feverish plans are to no avail because you never ask God for help” Isaiah 22:11
“Lord you will grant us peace for all we have accomplished is from You” Isaiah 27:12
Apart from Him we are nothing. We cannot do anything on our own. Not by might nor by my power but by your Spirit. Lord I need You!!!!!
Oh yes, Liz, I agree with Dee. I so love your words that you might die to self and be willing to share without fear.
It is beautiful. I will continue to listen to my friend and love her where she is and just let go of my desire to see an interest!!! So much weakness that I want to have success.It is the Holy Spirit’s role to win each soul.
God just gave me mom and me the opportunity to share the plan of salvation and our testimonies with my Aunt, Janet!!! My parents are the only siblings in their families that we know are saved. My mom has 3 sisters and two bothers. This sister (Janet) is the oldest in the family, 75! I had prayed before going to lunch with her today and my mom said she had also prayed for the opportunity to share Him. This aunt has seemed open to know more about the Lord for quite a while now and we have had minor episodes of tidbits that we have shared here and there, but today we were able to lay it all out. I’m actually a little concerned we maybe have bombarded her, but praise God, He is bigger than our mistakes and can use it all for good and His glory! This aunt has been in mormonism, has indian stuff peppering her home, has all kinds of very off ideas about God….but at least she believes there is a God and she is searching. She did not pray to receive Christ right then and there, she really just did a lot of nodding and made a few comments here an there but I’m praying God will use this. Perhaps we should have asked her if she wanted to receive Christ right then, but I did not sense that this was at that place yet. I think she is seeking but not quite ripe yet. Hopefully she’ll ripen soon.
Wow Mary — thanks so much for sharing. We can all be praying. Oh Father, thank You for this open door with Aunt Janet. May Your Spirit take the veil off her eyes — may she trust You. Thank You so much. In Jesus Name
Thanks, Dee! I am so grateful. Like I said, we have had tiny opportunities to get a word in here and there but nothing like what took place today!
Praising Him Mary for that opportunity you had with your Aunt!!!!!!
I am praying also for her salvation. Your testimonies shared are so wonderful