So I have been going through this course that was started by Ray Comfort, who is (for those who don't know) a well known evangelist and highly respected by professors at TFC and I'm sure lots of other people. Well whatever his fame is irrelevant, just the fact that you need to know the author's name of the books that I will be referencing throughout this post which are: School of Biblical Evangelism and Out of the Comfort Zone which is actually a Bibliography.
Anyway, I digress a little, and this is about my thoughts more than anything. So lately I have had to put myself through the "School of Biblical Evangelism" which is an online course in which I have to read, you guessed it, School of Biblical Evangelism as the major text book. As I have progressed through this I have begun to see the differences between "Bullhorn Preachers", "Relationship Evangelism", and of course "Open-Air Preaching". As I started this course I had the mindset of a Relationship Evangelist. I would say that one needed to build relationships before sharing one's faith. I still say that, but with a completely different concept behind it.
As I have read up to 36 of the 101 chapters/lessons I am sure that my thoughts on this will continue to change and my beliefs will begin to take a more firm shape, but as I was inspired by a good friend to write my own thoughts on something, I decided to take this step for my own sake if for nothing else. I have been asked multiple times by people when talking about relational evangelism, "how long is long enough before sharing your faith." My usual answer is that it depends on the person, and that is true to a certain extent. There are some people who you have to know for a few weeks, months, or even years, before they accept the message of salvation. However, I also believe that one can make a connection and build a relationship with a person in 5 minutes and can then share their faith, leading that person to Christ, all within a 10 minute setting. Now notice I said "lead them to Christ" and not "save" them. One of the things that I have learned (more relearned and really grasped) is that we as humans can save no one. We cannot give people the salvation that we need, we can only offer the direction to the person who can. We have to leave the saving up to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
I say this realizing that I am sounding like an "Evangelist" I hate having that title. I know I have Evangelist qualities, but I don't want to be associated with the modern day evangelist who promises that Jesus will offer you peace, joy, and happiness if you only say some pray that acts like magic words and vwallah! You are instantly saved. I suppose that goes right up there with the over emphasis of what has become our "magic book" as a good friend of mine says all too often. He's right though, people focus too much on the Bible that it becomes an idol. Yes the Bible is important, but it is an instruction manual provided by the creator, not the Creator himself. See the difference? Ah, another bunny trail...
Evangelism, I am a evangelist, but I am not an "Evangelist" that you would consider thinking of. I am not one who stands on a street corner and proclaims "turn or burn". No, I am one that will approach someone, give them a tract, ask them a few questions and see where God takes it from there. I am very inexperienced in this, but as I continue to read these books, I begin to see the Biblical truths in them. Jesus himself was an open air preacher who constantly told the people of the reality of hell, and begged them to repent and believe. That is where I am at now. I am at the point where I say that relational evangelism is important but is not the most effective. People always go to the extremes. I was one of them. "Preach the gospel to all the world and if necessary use words" I liked that quote, it meant I didn't have to conquer my fear of man and actually do what I am commanded. By the way, you can't preach without using your mouth. I've been fighting my way out of the "Christian Ghetto" for many years, and I have to say, I pity those who are in it. They have no faith that the God who gave them life and promises that He will in fact never leave us or forsake us.
"If you love me, you will obey my commandments." I hear that, and look at my life. I try to love Him, but can I truly say I love Him when I can't keep even one, ONE, of his commandments? I suppose that is why we have grace. But grace cannot be revealed without a conviction of transgression. I don't know if I am making my point, or if I'm just rambling, with a truth hidden under it. I'm trying to be a bit logical in it all, and not pass as the average Christian who is stuck in their own problems that they think they are alone not remembering the very things that are promised to us.
Suffice to say, my opinions on evangelism is changing, and I believe at this moment the best way to lead someone to Christ is to show how they have sinned by point out the law (Ten Commandments) that they have transgressed, show them how they are doomed to an eternity in hell and finally offer the salvation that comes from repentance and belief in a man who died upon a tree for all the world. The ultimate gift at the cost of the ultimate sacrifice.
I think I am done for now. I suppose more will come.