Have you heard the good news? There is something better to this life than what you are currently experiencing – not necessarily easier, but definitely better. And the best part is that what I have to tell you is not only for this life, but also about the life to come!
In our culture, conversations about the biblical gospel could possibly begin in such a way. Such a conversation would be awkward with a stranger, and maybe only slightly more natural with a friend. Regardless, it will lead to way more dialogue than the following statement:
Did you know that you are a sinner, and are destined for hell? However, God, because of His great love for you, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins, and rise again from the dead. If you will just believe in Jesus for eternal life, you can go to heaven and be with God forever when you die.
If you have ever tried to “evangelize” with such a line, you know how (in)effective it is! And yet, the vast majority of Christians today seemt to think that evangelism us best accomplished with option number 2.
Here is a nice rule to remember when trying to engage people in discussions about spiritual matters: Your immediate goal is not to win a conversion, but to win another conversation. (I read that somewhere, and cannot remember where.) Of the two options above, which one is most likely to win another conversation?
Only pick the second one if your idea of a conversation is someone saying “F*** you!” as they walk away. Sadly, many Christians are fine with such a response, because, as I shared in my last post, they believe that as long as they “share the gospel” the “blood of that person is on their own head.” In my view, this reveals a very poor understanding of the gospel. Of course, I am not even sure that the first option above is a good beginning point either. While the first option is more likely to result in dialogue, if you start off with such a statement, it reveals a misunderstanding of the nature of evangelism.
To truly engage people in discussions about Jesus and the gospel, a few things are necessary. Many believe that a relationship or friendship with the person is necessary, but I disagree. While a relationship is incredibly helpful, it is not required. Instead, at the most basic level, two things are required: First, an understanding of what the biblical gospel is, and second, a good grasp of how to share this gospel with others (aka “evangelism”).
I will briefly discuss both over the next couple of posts.