Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friendship Evangelism—Witnessing According to Paul

Learn < Live < Lead

Witnessing and evangelism are two words that can strike terror in the hearts of new believers. My own fear stemmed from a misconception I had about evangelism.

I remember I once crossed the street to avoid walking by a fellow who stood on the corner waving his big leather Bible and shouting to passersby, “Are you saved?” When I became a Christian I thought, “Please, Lord, don’t ask me to witness. I don’t want to accost people like the guy I saw with the floppy Bible.”

I didn’t really understand evangelism. Paul, on the other hand, did. After his conversion, Paul learned all he could about living for Jesus and following in His footsteps. Jesus often shared His message by visiting in people’s home, eating and talking with them, and developing a friendship. Paul emulated Jesus’ example, recognizing the importance of establishing a rapport with people.

  • Jailed unjustly, Paul didn’t rant and rave and gripe and complain. Instead he took the opportunity to share the gospel with his fellow inmates. 
  • When in Athens, Paul noted the Athenians’ dedication to religion. He then used that as common ground for sharing the gospel.
  • With Priscilla and Aquilla, Paul used a skill the three shared—tent making—to establish a relationship with them; he then shared the gospel.

VoilĂ ! Friendship evangelism according to Paul! Perhaps we would find witnessing easier if we followed his example.

  • Draw closer to Jesus, allowing Him to permeate every nook and cranny. Mentioning Him in casual conversation and referring to God's gift of salvation will then flow from us without force or pretense.
  • Determine what common ground we share with the person we want to witness to. Use that commonality as a segue to the gospel.
  • Develop a friendship. Establishing relationship builds trust and lends credibility--vital attributes when we are telling someone of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us.
May God add his Spirit to all that you do to bring others into His kingdom.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams


  1. Awesome post on relational evangelism! I liked your examples, and I cling to examples like that when I start to feel like I'm not doing enough evangelism, not making a differencein our hurting world. I know that the Lord's work gets done quickly sometimes like when Peter and the disciples baptized 3,000 on Pentecost, but sometimes it is more like Paul's ministry - one believer, or one household at a time through relational ministry.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Great outline for evangelizing. I have a friend whose whole life has been friendship evangelism. Jesus flows from her naturally as does hospitality. Those two aspects are powerful for introducing others to Christ and bringing hope to their lives.
    Thank you for your visit, Pam. It's good to have time to write this week. Not sure how well I'll do once Fall Break is over.


  3. Excellent thoughts, Pam. We make "witnessing" so much scarier than it needs to be. Thanks.

  4. I love how you summarized friendship evangelism with the 3-D memory hangers. Draw-Develop-Determine


  5. Oh this helps so much. I, too, was afraid of having to shout to others without meeting them eye to eye first.

    Great examples. :)

  6. Very good thoughts. 'Witnessing' and 'Evangelism' and I'm going to add 'missionary work' are words that are scary. I'm trying (with God's help) to break though the 'fear' ~Kelly

  7. We have a corner just South of us Pam, where a "gentleman with the floppy Bible" (love that) does exactly what you described most weekends. When I talk to people about reaching out in faith to others, many are concerned that they'll be "lumped in" with how that man is perceived. Honestly, the most effective method of witnessing is to show Jesus' light in our words and actions each day, which quite often will open the door to more in-depth conversations about our Savior.

    Great post!

  8. Pam,

    I remember before I accepted Christ there was a man that would stand on a box waving his floopy bible ranting his hellfire and brimstone at the people waiting at the bus stop for their bus, I remember thinking, God please don't let me be like that. I think that scared more people away from Christ than leading them too them. I think some of the greatest witnessing we do is living as an example.

    Blessings to you Pam.

  9. Hi Pam - great post and encouragement to witness in a much more approachable and doable (for people like me who are petrified) way.
    God bless

  10. Deqar Pam,
    As always you have opened an aspect of evanglism and witnessing that is so eay to do. I always pray for God to give me the right words to use to share His word and now I know that it could be just a smile or a kind word.. Thank-you sooo much for sharing your thoughts..God bless you,

  11. I know, as a still fairly new Christian (2 years), I am still nervous about witnessing, not wanting to push people away. But this post gives me hope that there are ways that I, too, can witness to those I care about and those I don't know, just by getting to know them. Thanks so much! God bless you :)