I have been reading a book entitled, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community, written by Tim Chester and Steven Timmis. In Chapter 3, the authors lay out the process of evangelism in the context of community. For many this will be a drastic change of thought, and will challenge how they think about evangelism. However, I totally agree with their conclusions on the topic and wanted to share with you the three standards in which I (as well as the authors) believe will be most effective in carrying out the Great Commission, while obeying the Great Commandment.
1. Building Relationships: We should develop relationships with those who are not Christians. We should seek to love our neighbors (those around us) by inviting them into our lives in order to live life together.
2. Sharing The Gospel: We should love our neighbors, but with gospel intentionality. We should live life together with the desire and purpose to present them the gospel, not just with our actions but with our words as well.
3. Introduce People To The Church Community: This is not simply inviting them to our church gatherings. This is part of it, but not exactly what this is intended to mean. Within the church community we have people with different gifting. Maybe one is good at hospitality (cooking, entertaining, etc) and another is good at communicating clearly the goals and beliefs of the community. We come together over a meal at someone's house, and we begin talking about life and the one who is good at communicating the gospel can present the core beliefs of the community. This can be done in homes, restaurants, gatherings, small groups, etc.
Understand that this is not a specific formula but a lifestyle to be lived by the church. We have to move beyond our understanding the church to be a building, to a community living life together. Within this context trust is built, love is shown, needs are met, and the gospel is presented. This is the standard by which evangelism is to be most effective in our present world. This is precisely the way Jesus lived out his life, and how the early church lived out their mission in their context.
What are your thoughts? Is this helpful? How does your church perceive evangelism? How well do they live life with those around them?