I recently read a blog post geared to most Christian church members today. It seems, when it comes to evangelism, we error on both ends of the spectrum. Either we are too silent about our faith, either unsure of what to say or afraid of offending someone. Or we are too boisterous and either turn people away or pull people in, but only short term.
What’s the best way to evangelize? Not through sales pitches, and not silence, but through relationships.
Here’s a line from the study mentioned in the blog post: “Yeakley concluded that the most effective form of evangelism framed conversion as a gradual process that unfolds over time, in the context of multiple relationships in which non-manipulative, honest exploration could occur. What is the best way to evangelize? Not through contrived persuasion techniques or sales pitches, and not through silence, but through genuine and honest exploration in the context of real relationships and within a transformative community of faith.”
The best and most healthy way for someone to grow in Christ is to have at least six different relationships with people in the church with whom they have opportunity to explore what it means to live out a life of following Jesus.
Here’s the full study if you’re interested.
There are practical steps for churches as well as individual Christians here:
1) Christians need to be in community with one another. We need to create contexts and systems that allow for friendship and exploration of Scripture.
2) Christians need to invite others into those formed communities and structures.
3) Churches need to build structures and systems that allow for people to be in community.
4) Churches need to continue to focus on connections with new people who show up – give the new people an opportunity to experience relationships and connections with at least 4-6 different people in the congregation.
5) We all need to keep the focuses on the mission of the church – to make discipleship in the name of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, the life and the only way to God the Father.