-What Is Relational Evangelism?
Some writers, emphasizing the kind of relationships we should develop with unbelievers, call it “friendship,” “one-on-one” or “personal” evangelism. Other writers, stressing our attitude in these relationships, call it “contagious Christianity,” “lifestyle evangelism” or “affinity evangelism.” Regardless of what they call it, all of them are encouraging us to become the kind of Christians that unbelievers want to be around.
How effective is relational evangelism? Evangelist Luis Palau’s research shows that 75% of all those who come to Christ do so through a relationship with a saved friend, relative or co-worker. The Institute of American Church Growth reports an even higher percentage, with almost 90% of the 14,000 Christians recently polled saying they came to Christ through “a friend or relative who invested in a relationship with them.”
Is relational evangelism part of your Christian experience? It is mine. Years ago, a fellow English teacher patiently helped me understand that the Bible was much more than just another great book. In my wife’s case, a friend shared what she was learning from the Bible as these two young moms got together each week for tea. Recently we heard that a former neighbor had been murdered. In spite of the tragic circumstances surrounding her death, we rejoiced as we remembered the one-on-one Bible studies my wife had with her that led to her salvation.
Is relational evangelism biblical? Our Savior may have preached often to the masses, but He became known as “a friend of sinners” because to so many He was just that — their friend (Lk. 7:34; Jn. 15:15). Paul described his own work as a relational evangelist this way: “I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). And don’t forget that Andrew led his brother Peter to the Lord, and Philip did the same for his friend Nathanael (Jn. 1:40-46).
If relational evangelism is so effective, why aren’t more of us doing it?
By Larry Ondrejack
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.
Hey Jake how’s your relational evangelism going? Oh you don’t believe in it, my bad. Surely the lost and hurting will come to you because of your high level of superiority. And I just became as bad as Jake…correction…wow… We believers need to encourage articles like this one. Maybe we prefer pointing out what others aren’t doing more than encouraging them. Keep up the great work TAFJ!
This is a decent little article on relational evangelism and its importance. However, the verses you quoted for the sake of justifying relational evanglism are used quite out of context. First, the idea of Jesus as the ultimate “friend” of sinners is used out of context and made unbiblical often. In Luke 7:34 it’s important to note that the ultimate point is not that Jesus is saying “I’m a friend of sinners and love to chill with them,” but that Christ is making a statement about ubelieving Israel and the Pharisees and what THEY say about HIM in a negative context. The point is about their lack of discernment and hatred of him as the Christ and hatred of John the Baptist as a prophet making way for the Christ. In John 15:15 Christ is speaking to his disciples, not unbelievers. The point is made alone right there; keep context in mind when you’re using these verses to justify your preference of evanglism (whether it is or not). Not to say that Jesus didn’t spend his time making sinners see the truth, but by saying that relational is so effective because Christ did it primarily is simply unbiblical. The verse from Corinthians about Paul also is taken out of context. Paul was talking about how he could have used his authority over the gentiles in speaking with them, but instead took a more lowly position among them, considering himself an equal. But he wasn’t saying, “I became their friend first so I could share the gospel with them later.”