Evangelism and Witnessing

April, May, June 2012

Want to learn more about Evangelism and Witnessing? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Defining Evangelism and Witnessing (Luke 24, Acts 1, 5 & 10)
Sharing the gospel is something that all Christians can do. The question is, "How do we do it well?" Normally, I think of evangelism and witnessing as being the same thing. However, when viewed from the lenses of a lawyer, the two are much different. In most legal briefs, the facts of the case are discussed first. Next comes the legal argument. The first section is about the witnesses and what they say happened. The second is about persuasion. When I write the facts in a brief, my goal is to persuade. However, no good lawyer would be confused about the difference between stating the facts and making the legal argument. Is that true for Christians who want to share the gospel? Should we be sure we understand the difference between the facts and persuasion? How much of a persuader role do we have? Let's dive into our Bibles and see what we can learn!

Lesson 2: Every Member Ministry (Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, John 4)
Last week we considered the difference between witnessing (the personal story we have to tell) and evangelism (our explanation of the gospel). We discussed the idea of "nudge" evangelism - that we should pay attention to every situation and every word we say so that we nudge people towards the gospel and not away from it. It is hard to get our own story wrong, but some of us are not too sure about how to explain the gospel - or even our proper role in the explanation. Since we could get it wrong, should we leave the "tricky stuff" to the experts - the people we pay to do ministry? Let's dive into our Bible and find out!

Lesson 3: Spiritual Gifts for Evangelism and Witnessing (Acts 1, 2, 8 & 13, John 20, Joel 2)
Is it true that we all have at least one spiritual gift? We said, "yes," last week. But, are we making an unwarranted assumption? To have a spiritual gift you would have to first receive the Holy Spirit, right? The more I consider this, the more I am troubled by this issue. This week our study is going to be a bit different. Instead of us reading the Bible, and me suggesting a conclusion I'm pretty certain I have right, this week we are going to be exploring the answers together. I have a great deal of uncertainty on this issue. Let's jump into our Bible study and see what we can learn about what it means to receive the Holy Spirit!

Lesson 4: Evangelism and Witnessing as a Lifestyle (John 17, Mark 5)
Anyone who looks honestly at the world and at God's standard knows that there is a huge gap between the two. As a witness, as an evangelist, you stand between those two. You are the connection between the world and Christianity. Between the world and eternal life. There is at least one substantial problem with where you are standing. Jesus tells us in John 17:14 that the world hates us. How are you going to be a proper connection when you are dealing with hate? How do we connect with hate? Let's race into our Bible study and see what we can learn!

Lesson 5: Sequential Evangelism and Witnessing (1 Corinthians 3, John 6)
How complex is this witnessing stuff? Last week we learned that the demon-possessed, naked, crazy guy was sent to witness to his town after Jesus cast out his demons. That guy did not have an advanced education in witnessing, yet Jesus sent him out right away! The title to our lesson indicates there is an order (sequence) to evangelism. Let's jump into our Bible study and explore this idea that math and order have something to do with effective evangelism!

Lesson 6: Personal Evangelism and Witnessing (1 Peter 2 & 3, John 1)
Of all of the people you would like to win to Christ, which one is most important to you? My bet is that your answer is a member of your family! Sometimes I observe that people are nicer to those outside their family then they are to their family. Does that make any sense? In this lesson we will look at how we can be a witness to our family, and then consider whether those principles are the same for personal witnessing to those around us. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 7: Corporate Evangelism and Witnessing (Ecclesiastes 4, Philippians 1, Acts 15)
Adam Smith was born about 200 years ago. He began his life as a minister, but ended up writing one of the most important books on modern economics: the Wealth of Nations. His thesis, bluntly put, is that your selfish desire to make more money improves the economic standards of those around you. Isn't envy, greed and covetousness sin? While I have no doubt that Adam Smith is correct, I've often wondered how his theory can be reconciled with faith. What complicates the issue is that God, who told us not to covet, continually puts rewards in front of us. He does it with our money(Malachi 3:10)and He does it with our actions (Matthew 25:34-36). Should envy, greed and covetousness be part of successful corporate evangelism? What place does pride of opinion about our own religious convictions play in evangelism? Let's dive into our Bibles and learn more!

Lesson 8: Equipping for Evangelism and Witnessing (Mark 1, Matthew 14, 15 & 17)
Have you ever made a spur of the moment decision to do something? How did that work out? Often, last-minute decisions are a bad idea because they give us little time to prepare. If we go for a hike, we need to consider what kind of clothes to wear, what kind of shoes we need, and whether we need something to repel bugs or the sun. We might even need a GPS! If we have a work project, we find the tools and supplies that we need to accomplish the task. If we decide on a certain career, we go to school to prepare for it. Is witnessing and evangelism any different? If we want to be effective, we need to prepare. Ephesians 6 is a great chapter about how to prepare. But, this week we will look at other ways to prepare. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 9: Releasing Into Ministry (Luke 9-10)
Last week, we discussed preparing for evangelism. This week we start moving our thinking forward into evangelism. I've noticed that when I take a journey it is helpful to have a destination in mind. When our family used to travel by motor home, I liked the destination to be a bit fuzzy - so that we could enjoy every day and not feel pressured by time. I'm not sure fuzzy thinking is helpful when it comes to evangelism goals. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see if we can sharpen our vision about God's directions for evangelism!

Lesson 10: A Love Response (John 14, James 2, Romans 8)
After going through all of the lessons so far, you likely feel that you need to witness to others. You need to do something to advance the Kingdom of God. But after you come home from work (or school) and you fix a meal and eat and do some other chores, you feel like just sitting down and resting. Day after day is just like that. Finally, you feel guilty because you look back and see that you have done nothing! Is guilt bad? If we are to be motivated by love instead of guilt, how can we change guilt to love? Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about our motivation to witness!

Lesson 11: Let the Church Know (Acts 4 & 21, Numbers 3)
When I was a very young adult, the Sabbath School would start with reports. Reports on how many articles of clothing had been given away, how many Bible studies given, how many studied the Bible lesson each day, and how much money had been raised for various causes. Then someone read a "mission report" about a mission project. It was all deadly dull. The reporting never inspired much in me, except guilt, if I was unable to raise my hand that I had studied every day. Most members decided to skip the reporting and sleep in a little longer. When the church gave me authority in the matter, reports ended and the Sabbath School was devoted exclusively to study and discussion of the Bible. My experience as a youth gave me a bias against reports. What role did reports play in the early church? What role should they play today? Does the nature of the report matter? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!

Lesson 12: Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism (1 Timothy 3, 1 Corinthians 3 & 12, Genesis 6)
At work you have annual leave (vacation) and annual review (evaluation). Which do you prefer? Which is most important? Our world is filled with evaluations that start in the first five minutes after we are born (Apgar score)! How does this work with witnessing and evangelism? Should the approach and standards of the world apply to evaluating the work of the church? The work of God? What about your personal witnessing and evangelism, should that be evaluated? Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

Lesson 13: A Perpetual Ministry (Numbers 8, Luke 12, Matthew 5 & 10)
Now that we have come to the last lesson in our study about witnessing and evangelism, we should be asking ourselves, "When do we start?" Instead, it looks like we are studying "When do we stop?" Does "perpetual ministry" mean that we never stop? My habit, every morning I'm in Virginia Beach, is to walk the beach. One fellow I often see on my walk is retired. He spends every nice afternoon with his wife sitting on the beach. Would you like that? I could not stand it. What does the Bible teach about retirement from ministry? What should we do about those who have retired from being a part of the ministry because they are unhappy? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

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