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