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TITLE: Jesus failed witnessing 101?
By Douglas Sowers
08/26/07
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This is meant as an intro chapter to a manual on witnessing. It just gives a quick overview of the chapters. I am interested in how to make it more dynamic.
Evangelism is fun. Imagine going out and meeting someone wearing a don’t-bother-me face. You say something so startling that he wants to respond. As he talks with you, you tweak the conversation to spiritual matters. By listening, you mine for hidden treasure. You will have struck gold when he feels comfortable enough to share his felt needs. Then you can present the Gospel tailored to answer those needs. At this point, many like him will say that they want this free gift and you can pray with him. You will not only have a new brother, but have had a thrilling time doing it.
An easy place to start learning to witness is to study a gospel presentation. There are many good ones. The Romans road is a solid example. First it teaches that all have sinned. Next it focuses on Jesus dying for our sins to give us eternal life. Then it shifts to what a person must do to be saved. Finally, it presents the results of salvation. Memorizing a gospel presentation is a great first step to prepare you to lead someone to the Lord.
Most people think that this is all they need and miss some of the power. Study the Gospel presentations in the book of Acts and your eyes begin to open to new possibilities. One problem with most current Gospel presentations is people say it leads to easy believeism. People get “saved,” feel safe, and think they can go back to their old life. This study shows us some points normally left off gospel witnesses which focus on the duties or responses of a Christian. Acts shows us the way to keep the balance and avoid safe failures.
One time while we were out witnessing, we met two ladies and began the preliminaries in order to present the Gospel. One of the ladies immediately repeated the whole Roman’s road, lit her cigarette, and stormed off. We looked at each other stunned. Though we had studied Acts, we didn’t even get the chance to start the gospel presentation. We needed something more. A study of the life of Jesus showed us the answer.
The story of the woman at the well showed us the steps we needed to follow before we got to the gospel presentation. As we look at each step, remember, each one was accompanied by prayer. Jesus first looked at the person. Next he intrigued the lady by a short question. He listened carefully to her response. Then he gave a short response that began to shift the conversation to a spiritual matter, but let her indicate her desire to continue the conversation. When she wanted to start an argument to justify rejecting Him, He responded with a startling comment that made her think. Finally, when she wanted to accept His message, He shifted to sin and the heart of the Gospel.
It is so much fun to practice startling people to want to talk to you. The problem is that the felt need might not correspond well to the Gospel presentation we have learned. I did a gospel presentation that focused on the benefit of eternal life and got the response, “you teach people to be good little victims and get pie in the sky by and by when they die as their reward.” I realized that I needed more flexibility. A study of the moment of salvation shows that each step in the Gospel presentation can focus on different points that occur at that moment. Once you have learned the basic presentation, you will go out and find someone who isn’t interested. Learning their felt needs, you can go to the moment of salvation study, memorize a few verses, and present the Gospel oriented toward their hunger. Over time, you learn more methods, be able to automatically shift gears to respond to what they say, and see God use you much more often.
One final point is our words are just that, words. People are constantly looking at us to see if our life matches our words. We need to work on our testimony. It could be the moment of our salvation. Instead it could be a great victory Gad has given you. People also need to see that you are living the life you preach. Remember, though, each culture interprets the saintly life different. Paul became all things to all people. He lived like a holy Jewish man when among Jews. Greeks did not respond to that, so he became a Greek holy man, yet without sin when among them. When our words, our deeds, and our holiness all match, we maximize our effectiveness.
Though this makes witnessing fun and exciting, it can only be effective in a system that grounds a new believer in the basics and gets him involved in a local church. That, though, is another study. Here we have learned a complete gospel presentation, how to lead a person to want to hear it, and methods to tailor the presentation to their felt needs. We also focused on becoming all things to all people to win the more. That is the heart, seeing God use you so the more might be saved. When you see the thrill of changed lives, you will ask yourself, “why was I so resistant to learning to witness?”
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