Building relationships is crucial in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people I meet are not experts in relational evangelism. Generation after generation has tried to engage in relational evangelism and some are more effective than others. However, none are experts. Millions of followers of Christ will confess they’ve wasted opportunities to share their faith. Of course, most of those millions of people want to share Christ more effectively out of their personal experience with Jesus.
Recently, I had the opportunity to lead a relational evangelism discussion in Northern Iowa. In leading this discussion, I had asked the participants why they wanted this emphasis and discussion on this subject. Here are some comments I heard:
I want to love Jesus more today than yesterday.
I need to work on my people skills and love all people groups more.
I want to be a more effective witness.
I want to be able to see and engage the opportunities in my life that I may be a good witness.
I need encouragement to witness.
I want to know how I most effectively can be at the right place at the right time to share Jesus.
I am just fearful.
When it comes to building relationships and sharing Jesus everyone is unique in their witness. Personally, I have not met two people that witness the same way. Relational evangelism is not a program, or trying to make you into someone else. Relational evangelism allows all followers of Christ to be who they are and be effective and inoffensive in reaching others for Christ.
The Scripture is clear; every follower of Christ is to do the work of an evangelist. Please do not get evangelistic style mixed up with doing the work of an evangelist. Most of us have been approached by evangelists that had a bold style or approach to sharing Christ. We may have developed an attitude that we cannot reach others because of the various approaches to evangelism. Relational evangelism utilizes the fact that you can witness by just being yourself.
In relational evangelism discussions, I emphasize doing the work of an evangelist but the discussion centers on people, not programs, styles, nor having an uncomfortable feeling approach to sharing Christ. The relational evangelism discussion involves all followers of Christ and how they can effectively influence people for Christ without having to be trained or coerced into something they are not.
We need to discover that God has given each believer gifts and abilities to evangelize where they live. In those gifts and abilities comes the call to do the work on an evangelist. The church can work in harmony with all the different approaches and styles of evangelism.
If you would like to be more effective in outreach, build stronger relationship in the community, and work in harmony with other believers to do the work of an evangelist, please contact Ty Berry, Evangelism and Pastoral Care Team Leader of the Baptist Convention of Iowa, for a relational evangelism class at firstname.lastname@example.org.