Monday, November 30, 2009

A Different Way to Teach/Train Evangelism

Escaping from evangelism methods that don’t suit you

book cover
Book review on the just-released…

Got style? Personality-based evangelism
Jeffrey A Johnson
ISBN 978-0-8170-1555-8
Judson Press

We usually find it frustrating and discouraging to try and fulfill a role for which we do not have the gifts – it’s like being a square peg in a round hole. It is yet more condemning to feel completely inadequate in comparison with those who do seem to have these gifts.

Yet how good it seems when our gifts and temperament match our responsibilities and ministry. And how important that we should be sufficiently self-aware to understand our personality type, strengths and weaknesses.

Johnson’s new book will come as a huge relief to those who have felt pressured into styles or systems of evangelism that did not match their personality, or who retreated from any sort of faith sharing because a particular and uncomfortable method was presented to them as ‘the only way’. Many would rather chew off their own ear than do door-to-door evangelism, for instance.

‘Got style?’ proposes that there are six very different methods of evangelism, based on six personality types. A simple self-assessment questionnaire enables you to find the one or two styles that especially match your personality. Johnson goes on to unpack each style, showing how it works and fits the way you think and communicate best. For each style, he explains its strength and weakness, gives biblical and contemporary case studies, and makes outreach suggestions.

We can also analyze how each style fits different areas of online evangelism – indeed, there’s a project to write up!

Thanks to Jeff Johnson for explaining more in this guest blog posting:

“The stories of Andrew and Phillip – and the experiences of other people I have known – have always led me to wonder exactly what it is that allows or enables people to share their faith with others so freely and so immediately after their conversions. It seems clear that a believers’ early communication then and now is about a personal encounter and experience with Christ, not really a doctrine or dogma. Why? It certainly is because the Holy Spirit leads and moves people, and the Spirit’s role cannot and will not be minimized. But is there also some God-given something in people the Holy Spirit works with that enables them to be early and effective witnesses, even without special training? I believe there is. My study and experience have led me to this conclusion.

More than anything else, personality is the human component involved in effective evangelism.

By personality, I mean much more than the traditional dichotomy of extrovert vs. introvert, which pits three-fourths of population against the other fourth, respectively. Extroverts and introverts can be found in varying degrees in any of the personality styles. By personality I mean God’s inherent wiring as to how people generally engage and interact with the world.

People seem to instinctively know this even if they have different ways of expressing it. A recent informal poll found only 8 to 10 percent of Christians regularly share Christ with others. When asked, “Why don’t Christians share Christ?” several responses were given:

33.5% – Afraid of being rejected, embarrassed
21.7% – Afraid of not having answers
19.2% – Rarely think about the need
17.3% – Don’t know what to say
8.3% – Haven’t found a way to share that fits personal style (In other words, it’s not comfortable or natural.)

Though the last response names “personality” specifically, personality seems to be behind the other responses; people are really saying they haven’t found a way to do evangelism naturally – as a part of how they are “wired.” Because evangelism has become associated with something unnatural or forced, it feels “bad.” I never understood why sharing the something so good makes so many feel so bad until I realized most people are doing evangelism in a way contrary to the way God made them. We are called to do evangelism out of “grace, not guilt. It can be enjoyable, not just an endurable experience”

I began searching the inspired pages for how Scripture views and values evangelism. While contemporary examples are helpful, they cannot replace New Testament examples. What I began to see was evidence that we all have this “personality thing” and it influences how we share Christ with others. One of the most striking examples of Spirit-used personality is in the book of Acts where we read about Saul, whom we come to know later by his Greek name Paul. Examining some of Paul’s story will give us a glimpse of how the Spirit works with personality, not only to find faith (Evangelism) but to mature in it as well (Discipleship), but that’s content for another book at another time.

Paul was, from Scripture’s earliest references, a passionate persecutor of those who held the new Christian faith. He was present at the martyrdom of Stephen and, though only watching over the outer garments (coats) of those who stoned Stephen, he was guilty by association.

“At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him [Stephen], dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:57-58 NIV).

Paul’s passion finds further expression as he traveled north to Damascus to, in his words, “persecute the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9) and “try to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13). It is clear that for Paul, this was more than completing a job task. He took his responsibility personally. Personality is very personal. For each of us, it is unique. It defines who we are and directs how we interact with others.

And yet it was en route to Damascus to carry out this persecution that Paul had a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ.

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-5 NIV).

The record goes on to tell us that after only three days, Paul walked south on the same road, but he was changed from Christianity’s greatest persecutor or Christianity’s greatest promoter!

“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:19-22 NIV)

What strikes me about Paul’s story is this: it was only three days between the time he was an enemy of Christ and when he became a first-class friend of Christ. More striking is he attended no online training program, no school of evangelism, no workshop or seminar. What did God’s Spirit tap in Paul to move him out to promote that which he passionately and intensely had persecuted days before? God used Paul’s inherent assertive personality. Surrendering his entire life to the Spirit, personality included, was a part of his transformation. With the same vigor, the same personality, Paul promoted the very thing he tried to destroy.

Paul’s conversion was evidence of the Spirit’s working in his heart. Paul shared the Gospel using his personality as he surrendered himself to the Holy Spirit. This was just one example in Scripture. I wondered if there were other kinds of evidence for how the Spirit views or uses personalities, so I searched Scriptures further. This is what I found:

“Whoever speaks, does so using the words God provides, and whoever serves, does so using the strength God provides, so that in all these things, God might be acknowledged” (I Peter 4:11 NIV, italics mine).

This verse indicates everyone in the world fits into two broad groups: those who naturally engage the world by what they say and those who naturally engage the world by what they do. The first group uses words (verbal or written) and emphasizes the head. The second group uses works and emphasizes the hands. There are three styles I believe under the “Words” and three styles under the “Works” with a couple substyles under a few. These two groups describe how we all are generally wired as God created us.

Looking further in Scriptures, 1 Peter 3:11 gives additional insight into the styles of presence: “…won, without a word, by their conduct” (NIV). Here, it is not what is said, but what is done that can win people over. People who are basically doing people get their hearts and hands dirty in their evangelistic efforts. But just so there is no misunderstanding: words also have a vital place. 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us “we should be ready always to give the reason for the hope that is within us” (NIV). This verse assumes our lives will cause people to want to know “why” – and we need to be ready with words to explain because they will initiate the conversation and ask the questions.

It must also be understood here that evangelism is not about convicting, convincing, or converting the non-Christian. That is the work of God through the activity of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart. Evangelism is about introducing people to Christ through persuasive presentation, using both speech (lips) and actions (life) to share the Good News. Presentation only appeals to a need already present in a person or that can be perceived during the encounter. Thus, evangelism is really about conversing with the person in such a way that communicates the Gospel. Again, words and works are the two basic ways we can evangelize. God wired us with one or the other of these broad based personality categories. .

Though I have been touting this dichotomy for years, the most concise descriptors I’ve read that contrast between words and works are presented in Irresistible Evangelism. Below are several pairings, representing two sides of a continuum; word or proclamation styles are on the left and works or presence styles are on the right.

Monologue … Dialogue

Presentations … Conversations

Our language … Their language

Count (quantity of) conversions …Count (quality of) conversations

Front door approaches … Back door approaches

Fishing from the bank … Swimming with the fish

Scripted … Spontaneous

Winning … Nudging

Gospel presentations … Gospel experiences

{With thanks to Web Evangelism @}

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CARE ~ Toilet Brushes, Rakes, Buckets and Songes. . .

I Am Servicus!
by Ken Glassmeyer

These are the weapons of the new war in our streets: toilet brushes, rakes, buckets and sponges. . .


Nothing irks me more than being around people that see a demon lurking at every turn and want to blame whatever is going on wrong at their church on spiritual warfare. These same good-intentioned folks will then use that as some excuse to begin, as Rick Joyner often describes, "shouting down devils and throwing hatchets at the moon." All this type of behavior generally results in is getting a severe headache from the hatchet blade landing back on your forehead. You might as well be spitting in a fan.

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of room for intense intercession, the pulling down of strongholds, and yes, at times, full-scale deliverance. The Kingdom is a strange place. It is both physical and spiritual. You need to battle in the heavens AND here on the ground. What I want to introduce you to is something that transcends traditional spiritual warfare.

It is called it servant warfare:

Pray while you work!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SHARE ~ Hope For The Holidays

Family, friends, eggnog and presents. The sights and scents of the Christmas season. Everyone loves Christmas, right? But for those who are hurting and lonely, the holiday festivities may only make the pain more bitter.

I am Second’s Hope for the Holidays new video discussion guide highlights stories of how hurting people found hope. It is 3 sessions—just right for small groups to use between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Looking for Hope?Find hope in the real-life stories of other hurting people. Hear the story of a woman who has suffered through five marriages. The story of a man who had all his wealthy dreams come true, but does not have happiness. Discover the hope they found.

Do you have Hope?Share hope with the single mom, the family losing their home, the student far from home. Share your hope, your love, and your life.

Simple to use.

· Get a free download of the Hope for the Holidays discussion guide.

· Gather together one or more friends, neighbors, or co-workers.

· Watch some I am Second videos, then talk about how hurting people found hope.

Hope for the Holidays.

Find Hope. Share Hope.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SHARE ~ A Debt to the Barbarians?

Acts 17:22

(22) Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

If we were to read between the lines, Paul might be saying, "You Athenians are to be commended for your devotion to spiritual things." The King James' rendering of "religious" as "superstitious" exposes the latter word as having undergone what linguists call semantic drift. In Shakespeare's day and King James' time, this word did not have the negative connotation as it does now.

From the context of this account, it is plain that the apostle Paul was not, as some theologians like to characterize him, a feisty, wrangling, argumentative hothead. The men of Athens, who vastly outnumbered Paul and loved a good philosophical debate, could have made short work out of any know-it-all smart aleck. The apostle Paul was thus lavish in his compliments.

Throughout his ministry, he frequently resorted to diplomatic language. At one point, he acknowledged a cultural debt both to the Greeks and to barbarians (Romans 1:14). In addition to complimenting strangers, Paul continually sought out similarities he shared between him and other groups. In a conflict in which both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were breathing fire down his neck, Paul masterfully ingratiated himself to the Pharisees, reminding them that he and they shared the same view on the resurrection (Acts 23:6-8). Paul, to the right people, let it be known that he was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-29).

We also need to find common ground, not only with people in the other groups of the church of God, but with the world at large, emphasizing (like mountains) the things we agree upon and de-emphasizing (like molehills) the things we disagree upon.

In the process of finding common ground, we dare not compromise our core values or syncretize them with the world. We should instead practice more of what one late church of God minister counseled, "You don't have to tell all you know." Oftentimes, keeping our traps shut is the most diplomatic behavior of all (Ecclesiastes 3:7; Lamentations 3:28-29; Amos 5:13).

David F. Maas
From How to Conduct Ourselves as Ambassadors for Christ

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Complicating the Love Out of Christianity

In our modern version of Christianity, we have said that loving God is doing and not doing a bunch of things, and all of these things make our Christian life complicated… but love is not things. Love is a choice I make to give myself to another for their greater good. I love God, therefore I want to read the Bible, so that I know God better and serve Him better and can better share Him with the world around me. I love God, so I pray, to talk with Him and hear from Him and to lay myself out before Him so He can mold and shape me. I love God, so I worship, to express to Him how great, awesome and wonderful I know He is.

This is what Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). Love first, obey second. We have gotten it mixed up. In many cases our whole focus is on obedience. The greatest command is not to obey, but to love. Loving God will lead to obedience. Yet we have made obeying commands, whether they are God’s commands or our own man made commands, the first order of business in Christianity. And that is complicated and puts burdens upon us.

===>Click headline to read the complete PlusLife blog entry . . .

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