An activity for reflecting on one's understanding of evangelism and evangelists
[Pastor Michael Frost, Zion's Stone Church, Snyders, shares these tips he learned at this past fall's National Evangelism Workshop in Charlotte, N.C. They were presented at a workshop conducted by Dr. George Hunter, professor of evangelism and church growth at Asbury Theological Seminary's School of World Mission and Evangelism in Wilmore, Ky.]
Use this process with an adult class, the congregation council, or other group to explore the group's understanding of evangelism and evangelists:
Provide each person with paper and pen. Ask each to think of the person who was most instrumental in his/her coming to faith in Christ and to write that person's name at the top of the piece of paper.
Next, have participants write down a few words (adjectives or phrases) in response to the following questions:
Write these four words at the top of four newsprint sheets, one word per sheet: Personality; Emotion; Message; Behavior.
- What was that person like? (Personality)
- How did that person make you feel? (Emotion words)
- What did that person say to you? (What was the message?)
- What did that person do? (Their behavior toward you)
On the newsprint, record the words used in response to each of the four categories. Where the words are repeated, place a check mark or other notation by the repeated words each time they are mentioned.
Circle those words on each sheet that are shared by the most people.
You will have four lists (four sheets of newsprint). Each sheet will have the most common terms circled.
Have participants return to each question on their papers (personality, emotion, message, behavior) and record the words or phases that would describe their image of an evangelist.
When participants have finished, add the words they wrote down to the appropriate newsprint sheet in a different color marker (to differentiate them from the first list). Compare the words and phrases in both lists.
You will probably find that the words participants used to describe the "stereotypical" evangelist are more negative terms. We don't think very positively of who and what an evangelist is.
However, the words and phrases people use to describe the people in their lives who most influenced their coming to faith are usually overwhelmingly positive.
The truth is that those people who touched our lives the most and assisted our
coming to faith are the evangelists who shared the good news with us and became "little
Christs" in our lives. Each and every one of us who have committed our lives
to Christ are called to bear witness to the good news we have experienced. It
often seems scary to think that we should be evangelists because our mental picture
of evangelists is such a negative one. By this exercise we come to rethink that
mental picture and see that the work is simple, basic, and positive — an expression
of God's love, support, and encouragement.
Dr. Hunter shared research data that showed the most effective evangelism takes
place within pre-existing relationships and communities rather than mass evangelism
rallies and "stranger-to-stranger" contacts. The people who most touched our
lives were and are the people closest to us — family, church, and close friends.
That's where we need to be active in sharing the good news of God's saving and