Friday, March 27, 2020

Evangelism - 7 Approaches to Effective Soul Winning

Are you one of those believers who have difficulty sharing your faith to your family members, friends, and co-workers? You maybe in the minority according to The Barna Group, a faith-based research organization, who found "a slight majority of born again adults - 55% - claimed to have shared their faith in Christ with a non-Christian during the prior 12 months. That figure has remained relatively constant during the past decade." Evangelism, also known as soul winning, was not designed to be a tedious spiritual discipline; rather it should be a natural overflow of a redeemed life influencing the wayward to God. When it comes to evangelism a Christian's duty is merely twofold: to sow the seed of the good news (be a witness) and, or to water the seed (again to be a witness), the latter refreshes the seed already planted by others (1 Corinthians 3:6 NIV). Our job is simply to witness about the truth, it is up to Holy Spirit to germinate the word of truth within a person. We merely play a small part but important part, and He does the rest. In my experience, soul winning is much easier than it seems. Over time I have come to understand the seven approaches to effective soul winning.
1. Pre-Evangelism
Pre-evangelism is basically the work you do before presenting the gospel. In sum, pre-evangelism is when you live an authentic Christian life around others compelling them to ask about your faith. This is done by being a genuine example of a Christian by loving and serving others, allowing them to see your redeemed life for what it is. For instance, some people evangelize by feeding and clothing the poor, and by visiting the sick and those in prison (Matthew 25). This form of witnessing builds up to a specific moment when the "door" for witnessing opens up for you to share your faith. Pre-evangelism is merely the work you do to tear down the barriers of prejudice and skepticism many have toward people of faith, which makes you more approachable for others to ask about the hope within you.
2. Personal Evangelism
You have heard of stories of individuals coming to the same fishing pond again and again to catch the "one" fish that eludes them time and time again. Over time you learn its habits; the type of bait it responds to, and the places it inhibits at certain times so you can have an advantage of catching it. People are much like that elusive fish; some people take more time to come to Christ. A soul winner must possess great patience and use certain skills to win him or her over. In this approach you target a specific person you want to reach by praying for them, loving and showing kindness over time. In other words, you must be consistent with your faith for a specified period of time while building a solid relationship based on trust. At one point during your relationship he or she may ask, "Why are you different than others in the office?" or "Why are you so nice to me?" When these questions arise then you know the door for witnessing is open for you to share your faith. It is important to note that in this method of evangelism you win over a friend first before winning a convert. Many people make the mistake of pushing Christ upon people first before building the relationship.
3. Proclamation Evangelism
This type of evangelism is one of the most common approaches found in the Bible. Jesus drew large crowds in open spaces. Once he gained their attention he proclaimed the good news of salvation to them. In Acts, chapter two, we see Peter preaching to a crowd of curious seekers. On this day 3,000 believed in Peter's message and were baptized on the same day. That's quite a catch! A few chapters later, in Acts 8, Phillip is found preaching the good news in a town known as Samaria. It is distinctly noted in Acts 8:12 (NIV), "...when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Proclamation evangelism does not just happen among large crowds; it can be a small group of people in a home.
4. Prophetic Evangelism
The best example of prophetic evangelism is found in the story of the Samaritan woman drawing water from a well (John 4). Jesus then asks for a drink. Through this encounter Jesus reveals his true identity, so, in return she asks for the living water he was offering her. However, Jesus knew the skeptical woman needed something more to confirm his words, so he reveals her past, most notably that she had five husbands and the one she was presently with was not her husband. Immediately, she realizes Jesus is a prophet and leaves his presence. How would he have known her past if they had never met before? The woman then rushes into town to tell everyone that she has met the Messiah. A large crowd followed her to the well where Jesus refreshed himself. Prophetic evangelism is when you receive a specific word of knowledge about someone of which you had no prior knowledge. The person receiving the "word" realizes you are a man or woman of God and is more open to what you have to say.
5. Power Evangelism
Power Evangelism is demonstrating signs, miracles and wonders which grabs the attention of curious onlookers. Signs, wonders and the miraculous are undeniable in the eyes of onlookers captivating their full attention to hear the ensuing message. This is evident in Acts 8:6, "When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said." Power evangelism is a strong anointing to heal the sick, raise the dead and take authority over demonic influences. In an another power encounter found in Acts 19:12 & 13, "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." This type of evangelism is not limited to a few but every believer can walk in signs and wonders (Mark 16:17,18).
6. Presence Evangelism
Presence Evangelism is when God's overflowing power and grace flows through your life affecting others around you. In other words, people around you feel God's presence more than yours; you become a fire carrier. A story is told about a holy man known for revival. One time he walked through a factory without saying a word, and many workers started to fall on their knees repenting from their sins. This event was God's overflowing presence in his life, which affected others. We also see the overflow of God upon the apostle Peter as he merely walked down the street. The passage in Acts 5:15 (NIV) notes, "As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by." Peter's shadow is another way to explain the strong presence of God overflowing in his life.
7. Post-Martyrdom Evangelism
The eternal axiom first reported by church historian Tertullian, "The blood of the saints is the seed of the church", became a reality during times of great persecution. In other words, when the church is persecuted it grows exponentially. This last form of evangelism is what I call Post-Martyrdom Evangelism. This type of evangelism is evident in the story of Stephen's martyrdom in Acts 7:54 - 8:1-5, under the watchful eye and approval of a young man known as Saul of Tarsus. After approving and witnessing the first martyrdom, Saul went on a rampage persecuting the church to the north, to Damascus with court orders to arrest Christians living in that city. As he approached the city a great light, brighter than the sun flashed in front of him. Saul fell to the ground and called out to a person he referred to as "Lord." This brief encounter is known as Saul's conversion experience. Many scholars believe the remains of Stephen's death lingered in Saul's mind pricking his conscience constantly. Saul could not escape Stephen's last words before his death, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them." Saul could not understand why someone would die so lovingly without fighting back for his life. Stephen's martyrdom was the seed of the gospel firmly planted within the soil of Saul's soul.

Saul, who later became known as the great apostle Paul, also died a martyr's death thirty plus years later.

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