A Pastor's Thoughts on Evangelism
These are some principles that scripture teaches and that you can use to help love people and make disciples. And I am not saying this is the only way to do it! But the good news is that you don’t need any special training or degree to do this. If you are a Christian, you can do this!
- Have no agenda but love. This may seem counter intuitive. But people are very perceptive. They know when they are a project.
- Story of Pastor Randy who had befriended a rabbi in his town. The Rabbi later asked him, Did you become my friend just because you wanted me to become a Christian? “I would want to be your friend even if you never became a Christian.”
- Our Hacienda ministry. What it is and what we did. I will make several references to this. The story, birthday party. How would we go? We went in without our flak jackets full of tracts. Cake and Ice cream and presents and friendship. The result?
- They were asking us for help, input, and encouragement.
- I Peter 3:15 “15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
- This assumes several things: 1-you will be living your life around people, 2- you will have a life that is different, one that is filled with hope. 3- this will lead people to ask you about it!
- Jeff Vandersteldt: Live in a way that demands and explanation, and when people ask, give them the gospel.
- The story of a member’s mom in dying of cancer at home. Our church took meals to her family. Her concern about her dad, he didn’t understand. My explanation- this is exactly how it is supposed to be.
- Look for people that God is preparing.
- NT theology of open door.
- Look for people in crisis, people willing to talk.
- Don’t practice “Red apple Evangelism.” Trying to pick unripe fruit.
- Look for natural opportunities
- The distrust of the stranger, vs. when you are “supposed” to be hanging out.
- Neighbor vs. soccer team, workmates, school, etc. This means you need to get out of your Christian Ghetto. You need to cultivate non-christian friends.
- People are often more willing to have conversations and build friendships in these natural settings.
- The difference between trying to talk to skeptical neighbors vs the people we were serving with in the marching band.
- Serve people.
- We should be doing this anyway. This is our identity, we are servants.
- When you love people you help them, you meet their needs.
- Illustration of our neighbor with the loud music. Praying for him and a way to serve him that resulted in an opportunity to help him fix his fence.
- And this is not only serving the people you are befriending, it also means serving along side them!
- Look for repeated exposure over the long haul.
- Most likely there are people in your life that you will see again and again. Those are the people you should work to build relationships with
- My friend the missionary in Bagdad. I asked her How do you meet people in order to share the gospel? Her answer: The same way you should be doing it, we go to the same grocer every day, we go to the same shops and build trust with people and then look for opportunities to share.
- When Paul would share the gospel, he would go to the marketplace every day, he would go to the same synagogue week after week.
- In scripture, sharing the gospel is compared to the work of a gardener or farmer. There is planting, and watering, and tending and then reaping. Most people that talk about evangelism talk about reaping. And bless God if you get to reap!
- But in reality, most of the work that farmers do is not reaping. Reaping the harvest is a couple of weeks of work at the end of the season.
- Most of the work in farming is NOT harvesting! But most evangelism programs focus on this.
- I want to encourage you to take the long view. Pray for reaping, but don’t worry about it, and don't rush it. Take your time, pray and trust God.
- Eat with people
- This is kind of a shock! Be like Jesus! You are going to eat anyway! And so are they!
- Joe Aldrich’s book, “lifestyle evangelism.” He says the 2 most powerful tools in evangelism are a healthy marriage and a healthy church.
- Invite people into your home and into your life to get to know them and love them.
- Eating with the homeless.
- Story of our Russian neighbor.
- When we moved in April had her over for dinner a number of times. And had a chance to meet this woman. We talked for hours, I asked her all kinds of questions about her family and upbringing. About Russia, etc.
- She was a burly Russian woman, not very attractive by American standards. Thick Russian accent. At the end of the evening, she said in passing how nice the evening was, and how she was a little surprised because men never spoke to her.
- Ask Questions and listen!
- This is very much like Jesus! The book “Questioning Evangelism.” Jesus is always asking questions!
- One author writes, “To be precise, Jesus asks 307 questions. He is asked 183 of which he only answers 3”[i] I didn’t confirm this myself, but it makes sense.
- Other estimates range easily in the hundreds.
- Questions do several important things, when they are asked sincerely, and when you listen to the answer.
- They show that you are humble and care.
- They help you to understand the person and where they are coming from. And you will find that people are interesting!
- The right kinds of questions are disarming, they are not threatening.
- They help people come to grips with the truth of what they already believe.
- The story of the Hacienda, hostile table. Lots of questions from me and how the end was very different.
- Street Evangelism- Moving people from withdrawal, and suspicion to conversation. Introduce myself and start asking questions: Story of the old man that told me he was a “Christian” but that he was afraid God wouldn’t let him into heaven. And right there on the street he confessed to me that he was addicted to pornography.
- Look for Common Ground
- One of the best things to do is connect with people based on what you have in common. Common experiences, common spaces, common interests.
- BTW, one of the greatest areas of common ground come from our weaknesses and struggles. When Christians paint themselves as having it “all together,” it can destroy common ground. But if you find out that a neighbor is struggling with their teenagers or marriage, one of the best things you can do is talk about your own struggles as a family.
- This is not an afterthought. This is one of the most important things. Because God is the one who changes hearts.
- Colossians 4:2-6 “2Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” 
Click here for Pastor Troupe's full set of notes.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Print.
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