“I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 The Message*
In my previous post, I talked about what it means to “see” people. That is, to acknowledge their existence, to enter into their world and understand them. In this post, I want to talk about sharing the good news with them.
Ultimately, Paul was concerned with sharing the message of Jesus Christ with everyone. By serving them and seeing them as people, he had earned the right to be heard. We are living in a day when people will listen to you if you earn the right from them to be heard. That means treating them with respect; not treating them as another notch in your evangelism belt.
In an article written by Dr. Thom Rainer entitled Ten Surprises About the Unchurched, Dr. Rainer talks about the importance of relationships in sharing the gospel. A team was commissioned by Dr. Rainer to research the attitudes of unchurched people – i.e. those that did not maintain an ongoing relationship with any local church. One of his researchers wrote the following in a memo to Dr. Rainer:
“Most of the unchurched that the team is interviewing would respond positively to a 'genuine' Christian who would spend time with them in a gentle, non-judgmental relationship…”
I realize that I have just made a whole bunch of people practice confrontational evangelism madder than a wet hornet. First of all, I am not against confrontational evangelism. In fact, I often practice it. I preach evangelistic crusades, I share with people one-on-one, I give out bible tracts and everything else you can imagine to reach people with the gospel. So hold the angry e-mails.
I just know that most people come to faith in Christ as a result of the influence of their family members or friends. (Hence the term FriendFluence.) In fact, a survey quoted by Elmer Towns in Church Growth, State of the Art stated that 86% of the people who came to faith in Christ did so due to the influence of friends or relatives…
HOW PEOPLE ARE BROUGHT INTO THE CHURCH
By Advertisement 2%
By the Pastor 6%
By Organized Evangelistic Outreach 6%
By Friends and Relatives 86%
From: Church Growth, State of the Art
However, there is a very real danger that we will focus on building the relationship with the person, and never getting around to sharing the good news. We must never forget that our task is to bring others into a personal relationship with Jesus. We cannot automatically assume that they are going to see how we live and be attracted to Jesus. Beside all that, I don’t ever recall seeing a believer who lived such a holy life that people fell at their feet begging to come to Jesus.
Paul made sure that the people he encountered heard a clear presentation of the gospel. In fact he said, “woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16 HCSB) I believe that everyone deserves to hear a clear presentation of God’s message of salvation alone through Jesus Christ. As we build our relationships with people, we must ask God to give us opportunities to share the good news with our friends. It is not our job to save them – we cannot; it is our job to share with them.
Who in your circle of influence have you shared the good news with?
*I used the Message paraphrase due to the clarity of the passage.