friendship/relationship evangelism

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by gekko, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. gekko

    gekko
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    well... i've already started a topic on "way of the master" type evangelism. so i thought i would start one on "friendship/relationship evangelism"

    i dont know if its already been a topic or not... so here it is:

    has anybody heard it put this way?
    what are your thoughts on this type of evangelism?
    any other thoughts or ideas on this matter?

    i know alot of people who are into this type of evangelism. so if this thread gets some attention then i'll respond.

    gekko.


    p.s. it sure is good to be back on BB!
     
  2. bapmom

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    gekko,
    your comments have made me think of the following, but please do not take it as if Im accusing you of anything specific. [​IMG]


    One thing Ive noticed lately is that individuals are starting to take these evangelism styles and put them into two (or more) different categories for the purposes of choosing one over the other for themselves. Actually maybe it isn't all that new of a trend, but its one I wasn't aware of until recently.

    Ive never separated these methods that way. I just figured if I have friends I talk to them about Christ. If I have family I talk to them about Christ. But that does not excuse me from also witnessing to the stranger I meet who I have a chance to talk to, nor does it excuse me from going out and MAKING opportunity to witness. By that last I mean door-to-door and/or passing out tracts on the street as a specific activity for a set amount of time.

    Don't we expect as much from our foreign missionaries? As a person supporting missionaries, I wouldn't judge any of them based on how many souls they are seeing saved. But I would like to know they are out there spending time visiting, looking for opportunities to witness, and actively trying to spread the gospel. Well, we all have that same responsibility no matter where we minister on earth. It is not a "spiritual gift" (as some try to make it), it is our spiritual responsibility.
     
  3. gekko

    gekko
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    well. let me explain a little more what "friendship evangelism" is:

    (note: i do agree with you though)

    friendship evangelism can be defined as this:

    one goes out to the non-christians and purposely makes friends with (lets say one person for now) someone. an aquaintance perhaps. the christians in this "category" (its a good way to put it i suppose) do all these christian-like things and then wait for the non-christians to come up to them and ask something along the lines of "why are you doing what your doing?" eventually they'll ask that. is what they think. well they tell them something like "well because I love Jesus. and Jesus would want me to do this." and then the christian waits for the non-christian to ask them more about God. they dont want to go up to people and tell them about Jesus because it might offend the non-christians.

    this is essentially what "friendship evangelism" is. i know alot of people who are into this. and this is what they have told me.

    gek.
     
  4. bapmom

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    your definition brings even more to mind! I sure am talkative lately! [​IMG]

    I would have specific objections with that style then. First of all, people may wonder, but very few of them will have the gumption or the time or the "whatever" to actually approach a person and ask them about why they do or act differently. I daresay some would even consider it a rude question, and so would never ask it. Personally, Id be too shy to ever ask a person why they're acting a certain way.
    Secondly, the Bible doesn't say that we ought to "act different and then wait for them to ask us about it." In every case I can think of when the Bible talks about witnessing it is placing the responsibility for action on the Christian. The Christian is supposed to be the one going, the one telling, the one compelling. Never does it say that the lost are going to "beat down our doors" trying to find out why we "love everyone so much."

    I certainly can see that we are not supposed to be offensive in our manner, but I think this "friendship evangelism" style is taking fear too far.

    Seriously, the vast majority of people Ive met in the least consider what we are doing as a sincere attempt on our part. They might reject me, and they might not want to hear about the Gospel, but they usually are not OFFENDED to the point that they will never listen to the gospel again.
     
  5. John of Japan

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    Friendship Evangelism

    Hi, gekko.

    You've opened up an interesting "can of worms"! Back in the 1980's there was quite a controversy over this approach!

    First of all, let me say that I believe we should rejoice when anyone gets the Gospel out in any way, shape or form! The Apostle Paul rejoiced when folks preached the Gospel trying to get him in more trouble! "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (Phil. 1:18).

    Having said that, I have the book Friendship Evangelism, by Arthur McPhee (Kingsway Publications, 1978), and it is a mess. Along the way it takes potshots at methods like The Four Spiritual Laws, Evangelism Explosion, the Romans Road, tract evangelism, etc. It says that instantaneous conviction of sin rarely happens, and otherwise attacks methods of direct and aggressive evangelism.

    If this is what your friends are talking about, then I oppose it. From what you wrote, they wait until they are approached by the friend, and only then give the Gospel. That means they are disobeying the Great Commission, which places the onus on us. On the other hand, my best friend from high school, a fellow chess player, got saved when I finally invited him to church—a relationship that went well!

    Another word for what you are saying is "Lifestyle Evangelism." The book Life-Style Evangelism by Joseph Aldrich (Multnomah Press, 1978) caused a lot of controversy when it came out. It has some good in it, but it opposes door-to-door visitation and confrontational evangelism (pp. 79-80) and other tried-and-true methods which I believe are based on the Bible (Acts 5:42, etc.).

    Evangelism as a Lifestyle by Jim Petersen (Navpress, 1980) is much better. It talks about having Bible lessons with a friend until they are ready to trust Christ, for example. Many of us missionaries use similar methods.

    Here in Asia it is vital to build relationships. That is because most Asian societies are based on Confucianism, which teaches a complex web of relationships. So, often we build and maintain relationships with the Japanese hoping to win them to Christ some day. That doesn’t mean we don’t witness to them. There is Masakazu San, our friend with the little crepe shop (fabulous crepes!) who we have witnessed to several times. He and I love to talk baseball. Then there is Patty’s friend Junko from across the street, who she goes on walks with, who has no interest in Christ right now, though Patty has witnessed to her. And there are others.

    On the other hand, sometimes the relationship only lasts a few minutes or days before the person gets saved, because they have a need in their life. This is true of Ueno San and Habazaki San, our two most faithful members!

    So anyway, keep on witnessing for Christ, and also build those relationships with those who are not ready to trust Christ yet. I have read that George Mueller, the great prayer warrior of the 19th century, prayed for his brother to get saved for 60 years, and the brother finally trusted Christ after Mueller died! [​IMG]
     
  6. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Change a few names and a few words and this could easily be said of Ireland.
     
  7. bobbyd

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    Any "evangelism" where the Gospel is not spoken by word and illustrated with a lifestyle probably isn't actually evangelism.

    Now, with that being said, i do like the concept behind lifestyle evangelism. The Willow Creek approach to this from "How to Become a Contagious Christian" does point out that the gospel message must be spoken. It just shows how any and every relationship can be used as a platform for evangelism...and how you can use that platform to reach the lost.

    Some people try to show a difference between "confrontational" evangelism and "lifestyle" or "frienship" evangelism...but in either case, the listener HAS to be confronted with the Gospel message.
     
  8. bapmom

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    thing is, bobbyd, we've been teaching what you've described as a form of "lifestyle evangelism" for many, many years. And most IFB's get lambasted for it. It's called "standards". Not standards which put up a barrier, but standards which make a difference obvious.
     
  9. John of Japan

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    I agree very much with this assessment, bobbyd. If the Gospel is not there, the person doesn't get saved, no matter what you call your methodology.
     
  10. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Very true, bapmom. If the life we are living is not different from the life of the one we are trying to lead to Christ, then there is no attraction to the Gospel. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). If the lamp shines through a dirty glass chimney, the sinner can't see the light well.

    Having said that, a lot of Fundamentalists objected very strongly to lifestyle evangelism in the 1980's. In particular there was quite a controversy at TTU, my alma mater. We were on furlough in 1986 when an unsuspecting missionary from Latin America in the training union hour made the mistake of saying in his slides, "We don't do any of that lifestyle evangelism in our ministry. We just confront them with the Gospel." He got reamed out from the pulpit by Dr. Roberson's successor (can't remember his name right now), who taught lifestyle evangelism, and I felt really sorry for the poor missionary!

    Someday when you and your family are on your first furlough, watch out for those landmines that were planted in the supporting churches while you were on your first term!! :eek: :eek:
     
  11. bapmom

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    I remember some of that controversy, not much of it since I was still a teenager and just not paying attention much yet! [​IMG]

    But we will remember. I had never thought before of the things that could come up while we are overseas and we might not even realize it until we get back to the States. Thats certainly something to remember! Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  12. mima

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    I agree with what John of Japan and badmom have stated on this subject. And really I desire to go farther, I believe "Lifestyle Evangelism" and "Friendship Evangelism" are cop outs. Anotherwords these terms are used for people to hide behind and deny their obligations to be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Will there be salvations through these methods? Yes, a few. But "confrontational salvation" will result in many many many more salvations. Evangelism basically consist of delivering a message. Is that message one of your personal testimony, or speaking of how beautiful the sky this is? NO NO NO !!! The message is telling someone the gospel and how they themselves can be saved, because most unsafe people are interested in how they themselves can be saved. Then clearly asked them the question to you want to be saved? It is this type of witnessing(evangelism) that will be effective and lead many people to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and that of course results in their salvation.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    I pretty much agree here, mima. I will add, though, that there are some, especially those close to you (family, co-workers, neighbors) who will not trust Christ the first time you tell them the Gospel. They will watch your life to see how genuine you are, or maybe they are just not ready to trust Christ. These are the people we need to live out our Christian life in front of, hoping that some day they will trust Christ.

    It is said that George Mueller prayed for 60 years for his brother to be saved, and after Mueller died he finally trusted Christ!
     
  14. gekko

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    so would any of you mention anything like judgement day or explain what sin is things like that?
     
  15. Tom Bryant

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    Good discussion.
    We use some of Willow Creeks Contagious Christian material. They talk about adapting your own personality as well as the person you are witnesing to when you witness.
    You must share the gospel verbally, but friendship evangelism attempts to get passed the "Why should I listen to you" syndrome by developing a relationship with the unsaved person.
    BTW, tonight my wife and I are going to the home of an unsaved jewish couple for passover seder. We have witnessed to them and this gives us another opportunity. Pray for us.
     
  16. mima

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    To gekko, concerning witnessing and speaking of sin, I once had this to happen in Mexico. While I was speaking through an interpreter to an 11-year-old girl who had seen her mother saved the night before, and had now come asking about how to be saved, as I was talking the interpreter told me, stop I do not believe this girl understands what sin is. Oh okay I said, asked her does she ever lie to her mother? Yes, the girl said. You could tell by the look on her face that she understood what sin was. She readily accepted the Lord and was very happy!!
     
  17. gekko

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    that is amazing! i firmly believe that we need to get these people to understand what sin is... before they can even repent and be saved. how can a man repent if the guy doesn't know what sin is? what would he be repenting of? he would be repenting in a horizontal way. he's repenting of the fact that he's sinned against man. lied to men, stolen from men... but once the guy realizes what sin really is... he now knows that he is to repent vertically... towards God. he's sinned against God. David said, after all the kerfuffle with bathsheba and that, "against You and You only God have I sinned!" and with Joseph, when tempted by potifars wife, "how can I do this thing and sin against God?!" we've got to go out there, and show them what sin is, get them to realize what sin is... and then the result of sin. there's a consequence of everything... and it always needs to be layed out. you with kids know this full well. if they have become humble... then give them the gospel... give them grace of God. what Jesus did on the cross, rose on the third day.

    if you had a terminal disease, and you didn't know it, and the doctor came up to you and said "here. here's the cure for the terminal disease you have. please take this, and you'll live." you wouldn't know what would be going on, you'd be confused. no? but if the doctor came up to you and explained to you, showed you about the disease, brang out charts of what could happen with the disease in the long-run... if the doctor did that for 10 minutes... you'd be pretty down wouldn't you? and then... then the doctor brings out the cure, and because you know what the disease is, and that you have it, and you know the consequences of it... would you just sit there and say to yourself "oh look. a cure. whoopee." with no expression? no way! you'd snatch that cure up like there's no tomorrow! because you know you have the disease, you know the consequences of it.

    gek.
     

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