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EVANGELISM TRAINING

"Evangelism"

. . . is the seeking out of Christians without a church home or non-Christians without a relationship with God and bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them and/or then integrating them into the full life of the congregation.  Evangelism also reaches out to inactive members.

 

"Approach to Evangelism"

          There will be both spontaneous opportunities for outreach as well as deliberate acts of outreach.  The differences are:

  • Spontaneous: is when someone known or unknown to you provides an opening for a spiritual discussion and you recognizing the opportunity immediately to follow-up. (This is by far the hardest to do.However, since they created the opening, they are likely to at least give you the opportunity to express concern for their spiritual welfare.) (Let people give examples)

  • Deliberate:  You initiate a planned discussion about spiritual matters with someone known to you.  You have a chance to plan ahead of time what to say when the time is right.  (Easier to do, since there is usually a relationship in place, they will likely listen to you and you are probably aware of a particular avenue by which you can approach them.)

 

"Your Mind Set"

“Be invitational and not confrontational”

  • Be genuinely loving.Let your concern for their soul be evident (even say that).This is the only reason you're talking to them about Christ.

  • Be positive about the person.Be interested in what is going on in their life, what has happened in the past, and listen to what they have to say.

  • Avoid Law phrases at all costs.These are the unwanted 'nuclear option.' The result will be that you are seen (and Christ) as being judgmental.Short term win for you, long term loss for Christ.

  • Don't be confrontational.It's not a debate.You may win the argument, but you will lose the war.

  • Be humble, pridefulness is usually ineffective.The 'Bertha/Bill better than you' appearance is offensive to most people.

  • Sense the comfort zone of the listener.Better to stop the conversation early and leave a door open for future discussions than push and have the door permanently closed.

  • Be prepared for questions that can take you off on a tangent.If there is a quick answer, give it.If not, ask if you can come back to that question.Write it down and make sure you do come back to it.If you don't know the answer, admit that to them and promise you'll find out the answer and give it to them.Make sure you do this follow-up, it shows real interest in the person.

Homework Assignment:  Think of who you know, neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives who need an active church home and relationship with Christ.  Write this list down and bring it with you next week.

 

Who Are We?

A common question that we will have to respond to goes along these lines: “What is a Lutheran/What do you believe?”  What people are really saying is: “Why do you go to church there?”  “Why are you a Lutheran?”  “What’s unique about Lutheranism that appeals to you?”

We can’t begin evangelism unless we can clearly and simply answer those very complex questions.  There are already churches with every sort of possible outward attractions (style of worship, youth activities, community involvement); we need to focus on the spiritual difference and blessings of Lutheranism.  (Have people give their spiritual answers) Possible answer:

  • Lutherans are unique in what we believe about how people are saved.

  • We believe that all of us are sinners and need to be saved.

  • We believe the Bible tells us how that is done in Ephesians 2:8-9 which says “. . .by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.

  • Romans chapters 1,3 and 4 along with many other places in the Bible also address being saved solely by God’s grace through faith for Christ’s sake.

  • God’s grace, Christ’s atonement, and faith are the Biblical keys to our understanding of how we are saved.

 

What are the four barriers to evangelism?

  • Laziness - Everybody wants or expects somebody else to do it and as a result nobody does it.

  • Prejudice - race, culture, socio-economics.

  • Worldly pre-occupation - too busy pursuing wealth or pleasure to put the kingdom of God first.

  • Fear

 

"Fear"

  • #1 reason/excuse for why a person doesn't do evangelism

  • Afraid of change

  • Afraid of loss of control

  • Afraid of rejection

 

"I Don't Know What to Say!"

(Biggest excuse for not doing evangelism)

 

Luke 12:11-12:

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

 

Luke 21:15:

"For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict."

 

1 Corinthians 2:13:

"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words."

 

What to Say

 

“I believe, I just don’t go to church” 

Response:  Belief and trust in God is a blessing.  God works inside the church to preserve and strengthen that blessing.  I would like Him to do that for you.

 

“I read my Bible at home.” 

Response:  That’s great, that certainly pleases God and is good for your soul.  However there are more blessings God wants you to have.  I find those blessing by going to church and by hearing, reading and studying the Word with others especially those trained to guide me.

 

“Churches are full of hypocrites”

Response:  You’re right, hypocrites and all sorts of other sinners.  We’re not in church because we’re perfect.  We’re there because God calls us there so that He can then forgive all manner of our weaknesses.

 

“I don’t have time” 

Response:  Time is precious and it seems like none of us ever have enough.  God wants you to know infinite time while you live with Him in heaven.  That’s why Christ spent time among us so that we could inherit what He purchased for us on the cross.

 

“Sunday is my only day to sleep in/rest” 

Response:  Physical/emotional rest is certainly good, but our complete health also includes being spiritually refreshed by being strengthened in company of believers gathered around Word and Sacrament.

 

“I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in god.” 

Response:  That’s interesting, can you tell me about this god you don’t believe in?  (They will usually list a god that has failed them, is judgmental, wants to tell them how to run their life, etc.)  Your response then is; You know, I wouldn’t believe in a god like that either.  That’s because my God is different than that.  He is a loving, merciful, forgiving God and the only things He tells us to do or not to do are to protect our souls and ensure we receive the gifts He is always offering us.  (With this kind of an encounter, leave it there unless they start asking questions.  You’ve planted the seed, have patience to let it sprout.  It may take but moments or it may take years.  If you push, you kill the seed)

 

“I don’t need God.” “I don’t believe in all that spiritual junk.” 

Response:  So what do you believe?  What do you believe will happen to you when you die?  (Again, leave it there.  However, they may ask you a question about what you believe will happen when you die.)

 

“What do you (Lutherans) believe?” 

Response:  We believe that because of His love, God saves in spite of all that we’ve done or failed to do.  God blesses us with faith so that we can receive the merit of Christ’s death and resurrection which is the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls.  This means that after death I will spend eternity in the wonderful presence of God in heaven.

 

Another and simpler response, borrowed from Pr. Charles St. Onge is:

We believe that “Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world that all might be saved through (faith in) Him”My words in parenthesis.

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