Saturday, September 7, 2013

Academic Paper: Methods of Evangelism

Part ONE - Evangelistic Method #1
The four spiritual laws is a style of evangelism developed by Bill Bright. The style can be found in the pamphlet Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws? It was an attempt by Bright to display the truth simply, so it could be shared with many. It is the method used by Campus Crusade for Christ. It departed from previous methods in that the approach first spoke of God's love for humanity, instead of focusing on man's sinful nature. Bright first published the method in 1957. The method has been highly successful in creating disciples. The method breaks down the message of the Bible into four basic spiritual laws. The laws are listed as follows: "1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. (John 3:16, John 10:10). 2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23). 3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. (Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, John 14:6). 4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives. (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:1-8, Revelation 3:20)."
There are many advantages to the method of the four spiritual laws. The method simplifies the gospel to the basics, making it very easy for anyone to share the gospel. It has a powerful way of taking a simple believer and turning them into an evangelist. The method is highly useful in bringing the gospel to foreign countries as well, where there may be little or no knowledge of the Bible. The method allows for talking to total strangers about the gospel, and having a clear cut method of conversion.
There are some disadvantages to the method of the four spiritual laws. The method may over-simplify the message of the gospel. The method tends to focus on the love of God, which is a good thing, but many other approaches focus first on the individual being a sinner needing repentance. The method allows for a quick conversion method, but isn't particularly strong in building relationships with non-believers. It also seems to suggest that one can be saved through the saying of a prayer, which is unbiblical. This could lead to people believing they have been saved, when they actually have not been saved. The four spiritual laws is a great method for quick conversion, but lacks relational qualities and depth of true Biblical disciple-making.

Part TWO ­– Evangelistic Method #2
Lifestyle evangelism is a method of evangelism that focuses on living a beautiful life. It is suggested that God is made known through the beauty of his holiness. The example of a life lived in communion with God then draws people to the beauty of holiness and allows for conversion. God builds his own character into believers, and puts those believers on display to non-believers. A lifestyle of peace emerges from believers and creates curiousity in non-believers. Evangelism isn't something Christians ought to do for a short time and stop, it's a way of existing. The method focuses on building relationships with neighbors, rather than seeing people as projects. The method compares evangelism with playing beautiful music for others to hear. It recommends having strong integrity, a caring nature, and a helpful attitude. It recommends becoming slaves to non-believers and assisting them and loving them. Through this kindness, the beauty of a connection to God is revealed to secularists. As the integrity of the believer is perceived by the non-believer, they are more and more interested in what the believer has to say as well. This is the opportunity to share the message of the gospel. The method suggests that believers can often look down on those still consumed by the world, but should more pity them, and consider them victims of the evil one. Non-believers should be seen as blind ones who need the help of believers who have been awakened.
There are many advantages to lifestyle evangelism. Lifestyle evangelism is a great way to set a good example of what a good Christian life looks like. Lifestyle evangelism is a way for non-believers to see the example of what Christianity does in the life of the believer, and be drawn to it. The method makes evangelism a lifestyle, and it focuses on building relationships daily. This is advantageous because it puts believers on a life-long mission for living well and caring for others. An example of good integrity and character is often more powerful than a thousand words.
There are some disadvantages to lifestyle evangelism as well. The focus is on drawing people to ask about Christ based on the quality and integrity of life of believers. However many may not equate Jesus Christ to the life of a saved individual, and thus never ask about it. The method is very relational, which is a good thing, but it excludes the possibility of approaching strangers and directly talking to them about the gospel. The method of lifestyle evangelism is more of a slow and steady approach, but lacks a powerful push to change an unsaved community.

Part THREE – Evangelistic Method #3
Dr. D. James Kennedy created Evangelism Explosion in 1962. Evangelism explosion is a method known for it's two key questions: "Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you can say you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven?" And "Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and he were to say to you, "Why should I let you into my heaven?" what would you say?" The questions are considered "diagnostic questions" and help to start a conversation on faith. Once the non-believer has answered both questions, the evangelist is encouraged to share on topics of grace, truth, and faith. The material used for this form of evangelism has been translated into seventy languages. It's considered a very practical method of evangelism.
There are some key advantages to evangelism explosion. It's a very simple and straight forward way to start a conversation on faith. It's easy to learn and practical to apply. Evangelism explosion is simple and easy to learn. It's also biblically sound.
There are some disadvantages to evangelism explosion. Evangelism explosion has often been criticized as being non-relational. Developing a relationship with non-believers and ministering to them is vital in the process of creating disciples. Evangelism explosion has often been associated with far-right southern Baptist churches, which often brings a stigma with it. Unfortunately evangelism explosion can come as very non-personal and "button-holing" to non-believers.

Part FOUR – Application of These Methods to Your Own Life
The method I chose that best suits me is lifestyle evangelism. Evangelism to me is a lifestyle. If I'm not living it, then it's only happening when there are specific events for it at my church or with friends. That's just not good enough for me. I need to be consistently living a lifestyle of evangelism. In modern society, especially in the United States people have heard it. People have been scammed and lied to in every way possible. Unfortunately the church has faded away in the United States, and it's been teaching false doctrine on a condemning, hateful God whom I do not know. I know a loving God personal to me. Unfortunately words alone just don't move people like they used to. People need to see my life as an example of what being a Christian is. When people see me being uncharactically kind to strangers, and helping out in the community, that moves them. Words alone don't move people much anymore. But when people see me walking down the street with a smile on my face, they start to really consider what being a Christian means. I've found many of my friends have seen the way my life turned around when I accepted Christ, and that makes them curious. I'm then able to talk to them about God and the Bible, and share it lovingly. I don't need to force it on them, but they see my life change and they want to know more. Lifestyle evangelism is the best way to approach people in my life. Most the people I'm friends with are intellectuals. They can run circles around most people attempting door to door or evangelism explosion methods. They don't want more talk, they want to see the benefits of being a Christian. They want to see physical walking evidence of a change in the heart and mind, that only a divine connection could bring. When that example is in front of them everyday, happier than he ever was, caring and becoming less and less selfish, that hits people in a spot they can't ignore.

Aedrich, J. (1983). Lifestyle evangelism: Winning through winsomeness. Christianity Today, 27.001, 12-14.
Kellogg, J. (2012). The Four Spiritual Laws: An Analysis of Campus Crusade's Method of Evangelism. Liberty University Senior Honors Papers, 271, 1-32.
Lawton, K. (1997). Evangelism explosion retools its approach. Christianity Today, 41.3, 58.