Today I’m sharing a final excerpt from the personal evangelism crash course. Today we’re going to look at some some observations from the way Jesus dealt with people who were spiritual outsiders, as well as I’ll just fire off kind of a machine gun method, some important little principles and things we need to know about personal evangelism.
We can learn a lot about evangelism and witness from looking at the life of Jesus. In fact a great exercise is to read the Gospels and see how Jesus interacts with those who are spiritual outsiders, who are far from God and there are many principles you can pull out.
We’re just gonna look at one passage here where Jesus, in Luke Chapter 5, is going along. It says “He went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. Follow me Jesus said to him and Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house and a large number of tax collectors and others were eating with him.”
“But the Pharisees and teachers of the law who belong to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them ‘It’s not the healthy need a doctor but the sick. I’ve not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.'”
And what you can do is take a look at a passage like this and say “Is there anything I can learn about being a witness. Anything I can learn about evangelism?” By the way, Levi is Matthew and this passage is where we get the the idea of Matthew parties, where we have a party and bring together people to know Jesus and those who don’t know Jesus and kind of get them to mingle.
Well looking at this passage, and others, there’s a lot of principles we can draw. Jesus, the phrase says “he went out”, you know it’s a physical description of what he did. But it’s really also kind of important that it’s about going.
That’s actually the big difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament model was “Come here. Come to Jerusalem. Come to the temple.” You know the Queen of Sheba coming to see Solomon’s temple and all his wisdom; that was the the centripetal model, pulling in.
The New Testament model is to go- centrifugal. Go, go out. Jesus went wherever he was going. He saw Levi sitting there, in fact one translation says he noticed him. It’s so easy to go through a day without noticing people, and we need to ask God to kind of tenderize our hearts so people around us aren’t invisible, so we’re alert and sensitive to those who are spiritually receptive.
We go out to their turf. We accept them. We see them not as the enemy. Jesus was completely available and accessible to them. He was known to the spiritual outsiders. And he was liked by them. That’s challenging isn’t it. Spiritual outsiders, the non-religious type, those who are shunned liked Jesus and liked hanging out with him.
Jesus gave them hope. He had real power. He saw them as people who needed help.
Lon Allison, who teaches on evangelism, said that we tend to look at people in very stark way. We see them either as successful on one extreme or scum on the other end, whereas Jesus saw them as sick needing, a doctor and he was and is the Doctor.
I love this quote: “Don’t do evangelism. Become a lover of people.” Love people. Be alert to them, be sensitive to them, be their friends. We don’t befriend people to make them a project. We befriend people because they’re valuable, they’re precious. God loves them, Jesus died for them and they’re worth knowing.
Here are some nuggets, some principles.
When is it time to share the gospel with a friend? Well, I mean the one answer is of course, is when the Spirit directs you to do that and the Spirit can direct us to share the gospel to anyone at any time with or without relationship. We need to be open to that.
But generally speaking, as a non evangelist, someone is not gifted in evangelism, building friendships and relationships with those who don’t know Jesus, the time to share the gospel is when your friendship is at a stage where it can survive you having an argument. Where the friendship is strong enough that you can have an argument and the friendship will still be there. That’s when you know it’s time to share the gospel. That’s a great little rule of thumb.
The Seven and Seven principle. This is based on the idea, the research idea that when people come to faith in Jesus, they have heard the Gospel multiple times. Some say four some, say six I just kind of round it up to seven, and they’ve heard the Gospel multiple times and they know several people who know Jesus that are following him.
So in other words for your friend to come to faith in Jesus, they’re going to need to hear the story of Jesus in different ways at different times, and they’re going to need to know other followers of Jesus. This changes the way you are a witness because it’s not all about one shot, right now, get it all done and it’s not just about you. It’s about involving them in situations and with people who know Jesus where they’ll hear the gospel in different ways.
Again this is the idea of a Matthew party; people come together in a mixing bowl believers who are intentional about their faith and nonbelievers and the spiritual stuff happens. You know thousands of people are saved every year in the United States at Super Bowl parties. Intentional Super Bowl parties where there is an avenue for relationship and the gospel.
Another very important principle is that we need to be very careful and not expect Christian behavior from people who aren’t following Jesus. This has to do with obviously sexual issues and lifestyle issues and we sometimes talk and act, and some churches really almost function as if people need to clean themselves up before they come to Jesus, before they come to church.
And, you know, we contrast that with the example of Jesus. Yes, Jesus would come to the place in people’s lives. Say “Go and sin the more,” but he had relationship with them first before he called them to repentance, before he called them to follow.
Another very important principle is that for us to be effective in evangelism, it means we need to be in partnership with other believers. Ideally in partnership with the church that is intentional about helping us reach our friends. Did you know that that’s really one of the purposes of a church- to help us reach our friends, to help us be disciples who make disciples?
You know I often tell people don’t bring your friends to church randomly. Yeah there’s some events and some Sundays it’s the Sunday to bring your friends. But you know if you just randomly bring your friend a church, that might be, you know, “money Sunday” or you know some Sunday we’re addressing some internal issue.
I’d rather people brought their friends home and had dinner with them, did social things with them and I’ve learned that it’s far more valuable and more effective if you lead your friend to Jesus than if I do as a pastor.
When you walk with someone to the place of coming to faith in Jesus, starting to follow, you become, you know, a spiritual walking partner, spiritual running partners, that is you’re on the journey together. And that helps with the whole goal, not just praying a prayer because remember, the goal is not just to get someone to pray a prayer. The goal is to get them to follow Jesus passionately.
Thanks for sticking around. Hope you pick something up through these few little episodes about personal evangelism. It’s not the whole story. You can probably hunt down the Personal Evangelism Crash Course. It shows up from time to time; it’s also inside the Priority Pastor membership area.
Have an outstanding day. Keep being a disciple who makes disciples. Press on.