Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, June 18, 2007

Apologetic Evangelism Methodology 101 (pt 9)

Readying Ourselves to Engage the World (pt 3)

I have been discussing how we as Christians can ready ourselves to offer a credible evangelistic apologetic to the unbelieving world. I have three major points I wish to highlight I believe can help Christians set their mind to the task.

I first considered Our Preparation, then Our Practice, and with this final point,

Our Pitfalls

In spite of excellent preparation and a flawless ability to practically present any apologetic material and provide a compelling evangelistic witness, there will be some pitfalls endangering our efforts. Our ministry will only be served and much improved if we take note of these pitfalls so as to avoid them.

1) Quickly Becoming Discouraged Even though we should expect unbelievers in rebellion against God to respond with negative reactions and hostility when we attempt to evangelize them, the experience can still be disheartening. If we really care about a close loved one, the discouragement can compound, especially if it is a sibling, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or even a spouse. At those times, we need to remind ourselves again of who it is we are speaking to: a ornery sinner. The person may be nice, sweet, and a faithful friend, but as a sinner, the person doesn't want anything to do with God.

If the individual happens to be a close loved one, someone you may see regularly, it may be wise to step back from the verbal evangelistic confrontation and merely love the person with silent, faithful service. The power of a changed, quiet life devoted to God can shout volumes into the hearts of an unbeliever. Eventually, in God's timing, the person will come back around to talking about the Lord. Just be alert to when it happens.

2) Overwhelming The Person With Too Much Information Sometimes when those evangelistic encounters come about, there is a tendency on the part of the Christian to present the person with every argument in defense of Christianity the Christian has ever learned. Such an approach can be a frightening experience and will just make the person want to shut down and not engage in any conversation. The better approach is to go slow and present a little bit of information at a time. Take as much time to answer any objections and concerns the person may have. And of course, listen more than you may talk, allowing your words to be carefully selected and to the point.

3) Attempt To Win An Argument Don't come across as wanting to pick a fight and win. Even if the person is a big mouthed skeptic who needs to be shut down and put into his place, attempting to win the argument can potentially lead to heated words, raised voices, and flaring tempers that will merely damage your character. If the conversation is becoming argumentative, the better course of actions is to graciously bow out by ending it or changing the subject.

4) Treating The Person As An Enemy Along the lines of coming across as argumentative is the danger of treating the unbeliever as an enemy. It can be easy to fall into that trap if the person is adversarial with his mocking scorn. However, we cannot fail to think evangelistically with compassion toward the individual. The person is a sinner in need of being rescued.

We shouldn't think like Jonah who wanted the people of Nineveh to die in judgment, but sadly, many Christians have these feelings against the sinners in our culture. Rather than seeing the lost as our mission field who need to hear the message of reconciliation, they are viewed as the troublers of American values who must be stopped at all costs. These people forget they were one time hostile to the gospel as well. They may had been out right mean-spirited about it, but if the people who shared with them had treated them as an enemy they may had never heard the gospel. We are the ambassadors of God's grace, not the proclaimers of eternal punishment.

5) Laziness We don't take the time to prepare our minds for the task of evangelism. It may be we don't even really care about reaching our loved ones for Christ because it forces us out of our comfort zone. Faithful evangelism means we have to take the time - time we would otherwise use to spend on ourselves - to get to know the person. We have to get involved with his life and that takes away from time spent with the people we like. I say that with all fingers pointing back at me, because I am all too familiar with this pitfall. But we must shake ourselves from that lazy stupor and involve ourselves with the messiness of people's lives that is encountered when we evangelize.

6) Forget To Bathe The Time In Prayer According to Paul's words in the opening chapters of 1 Corinthians, we proclaim Christ and Him crucified. We go in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we need to look in prayer to the God of salvation to direct our efforts and to work in the person's heart. That is why you don't have to be super eloquent in your speech, or an expert know-it-all on every major cult, religion and "ism" in the world. As long as you do your part by preparing spiritually with sanctification and study of the Word, God will take care of the rest.



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