“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15.
It is difficult to watch the news these days. On inauguration day, Washington D.C. was flooded by the supporters of the new president. Throughout the weekend those supporters were replaced by unhappy protestors. With D.C. as the hub, both the support and the protest spilled over across the country. It’s not exaggerating to say that many Americans are sharply divided and our society has become more polarized and argumentative than ever. We need to find a way to tear down the walls that keep us from coming together and finding common ground.
We have some of the same challenges when it comes to evangelism. These are tough times for the church with so many misperceptions and urban myths about the church. In this climate, we need new thinking and ideas in developing best practices of evangelism for the 21st century. God is still the only One who can save, but He still uses people and community to achieve His purpose. One of the best practices we can use today in the area of evangelism is pre-evangelism.
Your first question is most likely, “what’s that?” If “evangelism” is telling people about the good news, then “pre-evangelism” is what you do before you tell people the good news. Pre-evangelism is the tough work of tearing down objections and obstacles to people being receptive to the message of the gospel. Some people have walls in their minds and hearts that simply will not allow them to give an open ear to the claims of the Christian faith. It takes time, effort and a lot of prayer to scale those walls. Pre-evangelism seeks to meet people where they are. When we do pre-evangelism, we may not be “sharing the gospel” with someone, but we are doing the necessary work of helping them clear hurdles that stand in the way of being receptive and really hearing the gospel.
I have said in church many times, people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Establishing relationships with people requires us to get to know them and to have a genuine interest in their lives. Conversations that consist of asking questions in order to learn more about them and then actively listening and asking follow-up questions is an excellent way to start a relationship. As we get to know people, we can then ask more personal questions along the lines of, “Do you believe in God?” or “What do you have faith in or believe in your life?” This can help lay the groundwork as we seek to share the good news with them when the opportunity presents itself or to invite them to church.
To effectively reach people with the gospel requires followers of Christ to live out our salvation with such joy, hope, and peace that the people with whom we come into contact daily can’t help but see Christ in our lives and want the same thing in their lives.
- What does pre-evangelism mean to you?
- How can we be the kind of Christian unchurched people have never met before?
- How does the Christian’s hope, passion for life, strong purpose, or inner peace impact evangelism?
- What can we do better this week in the area of pre-evangelism?