According to one Lifeway study, many Christians are tempted to conceal their faith and not appear "too religious" when interacting with neighbors and coworkers. There so many obvious problems with this, but one relates to evangelism. Specifically, the need to build relationships in evangelism requires a forthright transparency in our interaction with those within our sphere of influence. Most of us would recognize that building relationships with the intent of, at some point, sharing the Gospel is in line with our Lord's imperative to be on mission. As it turns out, moreover, this motif of relationship as it relates to evangelism has many theological foundations.
Consider how the theological motif of relationship is interwoven throughout the evangelist's experience:
- Our relationship with Christ: Jesus’ relationship to the Father becomes the perfect demonstration of the relationship we are to have with God, a relationship that is a requisite to evangelism. Furthermore, it is only by abiding in Christ that we can accomplish anything in ministry. The extent to which we are effective in our evangelism can often be measured by the extent to which we are abiding in Christ (John 15:1-8). Since evangelism is done externally in the presence of an unbeliever, it is easy to forget that we tell others about Christ because we ourselves have set at the foot of Jesus and tasted how sweet it is to follow.
- Our relationship with the Spirit: This motif of relationship is further extended to our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be the Comforter, Teacher, Advocate, Gift-Bringer, Guide, and Power-Giver for the believer. In fact, the Holy Spirit plays a primary role in the salvation process in that He convicts the unbeliever, brings new life, and indwells the new believer. It is not by an intellectual processes alone that one is saved. It is the power of the Holy Spirit who must help the unbeliever to see, with spiritual eyes, the truth of Gospel. Salvation is indeed the beginning of a new relationship with the Spirit for the unbeliever-turned-believer. The process of leading one to Christ is also an exercise of reliance on the Spirit on the part of the evangelist.
- Our relationship with the lost: According to Philippians 2, Jesus emptied Himself and became a servant for mankind and this is the example of incarnational ministry that we should model in our ministries. Jesus condescended by becoming a lowly man. So, the believer ought likewise condescend to whatever lowly position is necessary in order that the lost see the love of Christ. A relationship with the unbeliever will be marked by a servant’s attitude on the part of the evangelist. This aspect of relationship is particularly significant in the post-modern culture of America, a culture that seeks personal significance in what is perceived to be a pluralistic world. In this postmodern context, servant evangelism offers a demonstration of the Gospel, of the Gospel’s transforming power, as well as the love of Christ that is evident in the life of the evangelist.
How else would you say relationship is involved in evangelism? Please comment below!