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The Six Styles of Evangelism

Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist pastor at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle (in the mid-1800’s), was known for his bold evangelistic style of preaching. In fact, he is credited (along with George Whitfield, Charles Finney, and others) with the “altar call” or “invitation” moment that became popular in many Baptist churches (and other protestant churches) in the 1900s. On one occasion a woman challenged him, saying she didn’t like his way of evangelism. As he talked to her, he asked how she shared with Christ others and over the course of the conversation she had to admit that she really didn’t. To that, Spurgeon answered, “Well, I like my way better than yours.”
What is your way of telling others about Jesus? If you are a follower of Jesus, you are the light of the world. Jesus says that you are not to hide out, but you are to let your light shine before others. So how are you intentionally doing this?
I thought about entitling this post, “Being Yourself” or “You’ve Got Style”. There are actually as many “styles” of evangelism as there are people, because it takes all kinds of believers to reach all kinds of unbelievers. Do this exercise: Read through each one thoughtfully and decide which one best describes you (most of us will lean toward more than one but you’ll discover yourself in one style primarily). Determine which one you are and then hone that “style” and the skills/gifts that God brings with that particular style. The six styles below are adapted from “Becoming a Contagious Christian”, by Bill Hybels. A wonderful, practical guide to personal evangelism.

1. Direct Style
Biblical Example: Peter- Acts 2
Characteristics: confident, assertive
Theme Verse: “Preach the word; be prepared in season & out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Tim. 4:2
Examples: Billy Graham, Greg Laurie, Tim Tebow
Cautions: Be sure to use tact when confronting people w/truth – Don’t offend!

2. Intellectual Style
Biblical Example: Paul- Acts 17 (while in Athens- his challenge regarding the “unknown god”). Paul is regarded as one of the greatest intellectuals ever known.
Characteristics: inquisitive, analytical, logical
Theme Verse: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
Examples: Josh McDowell, N.T. Wright, Tim Keller
Cautions: Don’t substitute giving answers for sharing the Gospel Message. Don’t become argumentative and learn to be a good listener.

3. Testimonial Style
Biblical Example: Blind man- John 9 He’s healed by Jesus and they ask him, “Was this man a prophet?” He responds by telling his story. “I don’t know. All I know is I was blind and now I see!” No one can deny your personal story.
Theme verse: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
Examples: Corrie Ten Boom, Lee Strobel, Joni Erikson Tada, “I am Second” website. Caution: Talk about Jesus and what He’s done- not simply about yourself. Bring glory to Him.

4. Interpersonal Style
Biblical Example: Matthew- Luke 5:29 He invited all his tax-colleting buddies over to his house for a party in order to meet Jesus.
Characteristics: Generally a warm personality, conversational, friendship-oriented
Theme Verse: “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22
Examples: Much has been written about “Lifestyle Evangelism” and how to open your life to those around you. I love a book called, “Questioning Evangelism” by Randy Newman (he proposes that asking questions is the primary means to share the Gospel- not unlike Jesus’ “rabbinic method”).
The caution: Do not value friendships over truth-telling.

5. Invitational Style
Biblical example: Woman at the Well- John 4
Characteristics: hospitable, relational, persuasive
Theme verse: “Then the master told His servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” Luke 14:23
We see another example of this in John 1. Here we see a sequence of events, one person inviting another person to meet Jesus. In John 1:40 it says the first thing that Andrew did was tell his brother Peter. Then the next day Philip invited Nathanial to come and see Jesus. Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said: “Come and see.” Sometimes we just need to say, “Come and see!” Just come. Imagine this: If you know anything about Peter’s role in the early church- What if Andrew had never invited Peter to meet Jesus? A single invitation can change a life, or many lives.

6. Serving Style
Biblical Example: Dorcas- Acts 9:36 (a.k.a. Tabitha) “She was always doing good and helping the poor.”
Characteristics: Others-centered, humble, patient, caring.
Theme verse: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Examples: We see this approach to evangelism in ministries like Buckner International, World Vision. So many examples within our church family.
The caution: Actions are no substitute for words (Rom. 10:14). Nowhere in the Bible does anyone come to faith without words- even the Ethiopian Eunuch (who was reading the Scriptures) needed Philip to explain it to him and share the Gospel.

So, what’s your style? Put it to practice.. today.

What’s Your Story?

My Story- the Grace of Jesus Christ

My story is the story of God’s transforming grace that has changed my life.  I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and was going to church nine months before I was born.  My mom and dad are committed followers of Christ.  So I learned about Jesus from a very early age and when I was 9 years old I wanted to make a decision to trust Christ with my eternity.  Looking back, I didn’t know much but I knew He had died on the cross for my sin and that in Him I would find forgiveness and not have to pay the price for my sin before a holy God.  I sat in my grandfather’s house, with my dad, as they explained that God loves me and that Jesus had come to die on the cross so that I might have a relationship with Him.  I could live with Him, now and throughout eternity.  And so, with child-like faith, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sin and I told Him I wanted Him to be the Leader of my life.  I know that it was then that the trajectory of my life was forever changed.

Throughout my teenage years I was in a great youth group and I got involved in Young Life and later Campus Crusade for Christ on the college campus.  I began to serve God through these ministries and through my many relationships.  My junior year of college I knew clearly that God was calling me into vocational ministry.  Following seminary, I was serving as a Youth Minister in Dallas when I had a “Grace Awakening” that was life-changing.  Though I was a committed follower of Christ and serving Him in a great ministry, I sensed my motivations were skewed.  You wouldn’t have known this outwardly, but inwardly I was driven by a need for approval, a kind of need to be needed.  Ministry provided me a way to help, encourage, and bless others.  In return I blessed by a sense of purpose because I was making a difference in the lives of others.  But I realized I was not serving to honor Christ alone, but because of what serving others could do for me as well.

Several things converged in my life at that time but perhaps the most significant was a new revelation from God’s Word, found in 1 Corinthians 5:21 that says, “He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  I understood the first part of that verse but it was the second part that changed my life.  God was telling me that He had forgiven me fully, accepted me unconditionally, and loved me completely.  Through Christ’s death upon the cross, He had made me righteous (perfect) before Him.  I realized anew that my identity was found in Him alone- not in my performance or through the approval of others.  I was able to embrace His grace fully and from that day on I’ve determined to live in it.  This is why I can genuinely love others- even those who disagree with me or are unkind to me.  It’s really not my grace to give, but God’s grace.  I’ve since learned that when I serve Christ for any reason other than to make Him known, it becomes a form of idolatry- serving ministry (or others) instead of Him.  On our best days, ministry is simply an overflow of the one relationship to which He has called us.  The greatest joy of my life is telling others about this life-changing grace of Jesus and being there when the Light comes on.

For more stories or to post your own, go to: www.10000stories.org

The Triathlon of Manhood

I’ve learned many life lessons from triathlon and the many life parallels of being a man.  In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” His point here is not so much about competing against others as it is about the how you run this race of life.  He says race to win. The triathlon is an image or parable of a man’s life in many ways. It’s not enough to start the race, you must finish the race strong.  (In fact, they have a term for it when you “DNF”- did not finish- too many men DNF in life).  Many men start strong but very few finish well.  Along the way you’ll suffer many setbacks, you’ll want to give up, you’ll never win every race, you’ll suffer injury along the way.  You’ll need to train hard.  You’ll need to live a disciplined life, and you will definitely need some men to come along side you and train with you.  As individual of a sport it seems to be, you cannot do it alone.

But here’s the KEY learning: The idea behind “the triathlon of manhood” is this: We must focus on three disciplines in order to finish strong.  A man must do well in all three areas of his life in order to succeed as a man.

The Triathlon of Manhood

1. His spiritual life

2. His relational life

3. His vocational life

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthian 16:13-14 The NASB says it this way: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.  This passage has four imperative commands that tell us how to run and win this race.

Winning the Race

1.  Be on guard. Watch out! Be alert!  Many men are not aware of the schemes of the evil one.  You need know the Word of God, study it, and apply it!  Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Listen: there are moral conditions for spiritual insight.  If you want an ever-expanding and clearer view of God, you must keep your heart pure.  Wake up! Do not give into sin.  .

2.  Stand firm in your faith. Hold tight to your convictions. Real men are unmoveable in their convictions.  Guard your heart, be alert regarding what goes in to your mind, what you see.

3.  Be the man. Be courageous.  The one defining mark of a real man is courage. Real men humbly listen to the audience of One.

4.  Don’t stop loving. Everything you do must be done in love.  We struggle in our culture to combine the rough, adventurous, masculine, barbarian spirit of men with a loving, kind, and tender heart (that’s a tough thing) but it is a potent combination in the hands of God.

The ultimate ironman: Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate man and He has finished the race for us.  He becomes, at the same time, our goal and the means (the power) to finish the race strong.  Men, commit to the triathlon of life and you will finish strong!

See You at the Pole (the office, home, gym, restaurant, etc…?)

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I just got back from “See You at the Pole”  Our students were up before the crack of dawn and gathered around the flagpole at their schools and prayed for their teachers, families, and friends.  It was so inspiring. I was touched (again) by the raw and unabashed passion of our kids for Christ.  I began to wonder what happens to many adults as we get older.  I know some adults are praying for their neighbors, their co-workers, and their families.  But I know many are not.  The Bible tells us that prayer changes things.  Jesus told us to pray for His kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven”.  We are to pray the very values of the kingdom (read Matthew 5) to come into our daily lives.  Pray that you will see God’s kingdom come through you as you seek to be light in your world today.  Thank you students for being an example for us all.

Book Signing!

I’d love to see you at the Cup Filler on the Square in downtown McKinney tomorrow (Saturday the 6th) from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.  Stacy and I will both be there (and maybe a couple of my kids if we can talk them into going) to say “hi” and have fun talking to our many friends.  I’d be honored to sign a book or two for you (and especially for those to whom you plan to give a book).  It will be a great day- beautiful weather, great options for lunch, and tons of smiles to go around!  Hope to see you there.