Tag Archives: Evangelism

Witness as Evangelism: Recap & Reading Recommendations*

Last Sunday at enCompass Church in Winnipeg, I preached on evangelism in terms of witnessing (seeing and hearing) what God was doing in a person’s life or situation, and then speaking about that (or witnessing to that) to them, like a detective discovers evidence and presents it to their clients.

While many Scripture passages talk about evangelism this way, Peter and Paul’s response to the Pharisees trying to get them to stop preaching impacted me a lot: “As for us, we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).

detective

Along with a detective, I used the image of a sniper, waiting patiently to speak to those God directs us to in the ways He shows us, instead of using a ‘shotgun’ approach like random evangelism with abstract (yet true) facts about our separation from God and need for a saviour. And I used the image of a tour guide – we don’t just tell people where to go or see, but we join them (or have them join us) on the journey closer and closer to Jesus.

There will always be a need to explicitly speak the Gospel to people (Rom. 10:13-15), but a more effective way of initially bringing people to Jesus in our current culture is to show them (witness to) what Christ is already doing in and around their lives, and to tell of our own experiences of answered prayer and His activity in our lives.

Philip and his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) was a perfect example of these three illustrations: he listened to the orders of the Holy Spirit, he observed that the Ethiopian was reading from the prophet Isaiah and responded by acting on that, and then journeyed with him and explained the Gospel to him using Isaiah as his starting point.

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For those interested, I would like to suggest four books that I found helpful for my sermon, or that I’ve found helpful in the past regarding evangelism:

  1. Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism, by Carl Medearis
  2. Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier, by David E. Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw
  3. Reimagining Evangelism: Inviting Friends on a Spiritual Journey, by Rick Richardson
  4. Transforming Conversion: Rethinking the Language and Contours of Christian Initiation, by Gordon T. Smith

What books or other resources have you found helpful as you think and practice witnessing Jesus and witnessing to Him?

*cross-posted from here.

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6 Truths about Jesus and 4 about Humans the Angel Tells Us

This past Sunday, being the last Sunday before Christmas, I preached on the the birth of Jesus, specifically the account of the angel announcing Jesus’ arrival to some shepherds near Bethlehem, and the shepherds going and finding everything as the angel had said they would.

Birth 06

As I was thinking about the passage, I asked myself: what does this narrative tell us about Jesus, and what does it tell us about ourselves? I came up with a list of things (which was probably bolstered by commentaries later, but I don’t remember now). It didn’t really fit in my sermon though, so I didn’t use it which is why each point isn’t fleshed out, but it’s worth pondering nonetheless.

Luke 2: 8-20

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

What does the angel’s proclamation say about Jesus?
1. He is good (since his arrival is good news)/his birth is a joyful occasion
2. His birth fulfills prophecy (Micah 5:2)
3. He is Saviour, Messiah (Anointed One), and Lord (master with absolute ownership rights)
4. He looked like a regular, average baby, that was differentiated only by where he was sleeping- in a manger
5. This is a great act of God (hence the angels praise him. Cf. Job 38:7 at creation, and here with new creation)
6. He is to be witnessed & witnessed about

What does it say about humans?
1. We are in need of saving/peace (eiréné = shalom)
2. We are worth Jesus going to such a great length (in the incarnation but also on the cross – Phil. 2!) to save us
3. All people matter (v. 10), including the “unclean” or disreputable or those on the social sidelines (like the shepherds who the angels appeared to)
4. We are called to witness Him & witness about Him

The more we witness Jesus in and around us, even in the mundane things (like He was a normal-looking baby), the more we will witness about Him – and it will be easier and even more natural to do so.

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The Power of Praying for Strangers

This past weekend was a busy and inspiring weekend at my church!

On Sunday we celebrated 13 baptisms, which is always exciting, and the testimonies of those baptized were interesting (one guy grew up Baha’i) and God-glorifying. After that, for the first time in the church’s life, we invited those who felt called to be baptized to come forward ‘spontaneously’ to make an obedient profession of their faith through baptism. And 30 people came forward! Including many young adults, two of whom I was particularly excited about and proud of.

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The other event took place the previous afternoon, when myself (the YA ministry lead) and 11 young adults went to Central Park in downtown Winnipeg to share the Gospel. There was excitement and trepidation, and even outright fear, but we prayed & planned beforehand, and we were willing to step out in the knowledge that God was with us, and that He would embolden us.

And that He did. We went in pairs, and each pair reported afterwards that their fear left quickly, and even amidst spiritual attack right as we got to the park, and rejection during our time there, we were able to engage in conversations and, even better, prayers for people that pointed them to Jesus. We also handed out the Gospel of John to all those who would accept, and a group of girls at the park (who happened to be students of one of the YA), were so excited to take all our leftover books and hand them out to people as we were leaving.

We returned to the church excited, emboldened, and with the prayer on our lips that this wouldn’t be a one-time event, but a lifestyle for our YA community. We finished the afternoon by singing some worship songs and thanking God for His goodness, and by praying again for those we encountered, even those who rejected us.

My Experience:

My partner and I went to the water park area. We would introduce ourselves by saying our names, that we are followers of Jesus, and asking how we could pray for them – to bless them, or for healing, or anything else. Strangely, every single encounter we had were with Catholics, except one couple, but it was evident from speaking to them that most of them were not practicing. We were fortunate to not be rejected at all; everyone we asked, albeit uncomfortably, allowed us to pray for them, and afterwards seemed glad that we had. My partner was amazing, and she would even hold the hands of the women we prayed with.

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One couple we met were aboriginal, and while they let us know that they worshiped differently than us (the Great Spirit, by burning sweet grass/sage, etc.), they were quite open with their family struggles and allowed us to pray. It was such an honour, and as we prayed the woman began to weep, and I felt love well up in my heart for them. If you know me, then you’d know that I don’t feel love easily. I believe this was the love of God pouring through us as we actively loved them through prayer.

How easy it was to pray for people, and to show them concretely the hope we have in Jesus, and the hope that He would move in their circumstances. The prayers weren’t eloquent (at least mine weren’t), but we all testified afterwards to experiencing the Spirit of God in us as we prayed. Frankly, I feel chagrined that I don’t this more often, just throughout the course of my daily life, even. And I wonder that the Church doesn’t seem to teach or practice this either (although if it doesn’t practice evangelism much, I guess it wouldn’t practice praying for people either).

My hope is through us the people we encountered that day were reminded of, or able to see for the first time, the beauty of Christ, and want to know Him more. No one gave their lives to Him that afternoon, but we know that He works beyond our brief encounters, and was working before we even got there. And, my prayer is that each of the young adults who went would hunger to see more of Jesus like this in their lives.

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