Lifestyle Evangelism

Get Out of Witnessing Free Cards 

Don’t get me wrong – it is clear that we must live lives that back up the gospel we are preaching.  I am just going to say that at the beginning so that I am not misunderstood.  As Christians, we are to live lives of love, holiness, hospitality and generosity.  Jesus and his disciples communicate this point clearly (Matthew 5:16, etc).

But what I don’t understand is why the preaching of the gospel has been replaced by many with something that is called “Lifestyle Evangelism.”  The basic understanding of this involves the following train of thought – “if you just live your life for God/let the Christ in your shine, other people will be drawn to that and want to know what is different about you.”  This happening is definitely a possibility, but what I think is important for me to understand – this is not evangelism or preaching the gospel.

As we have touched on in other posts, something was happening to the disciples in the book of Acts that was not a result of them praying, giving, or being extra-friendly.  Jesus wasn’t crucified for being a miracle worker or feeding the hungry.

It was something about their message.  Something they were saying (along with what it was they were doing) that turned the world upside down, leading to their deaths, their names being slandered and their friends turning on them.  Something about that glorious message.

Here are the thoughts of a senior pastor of a United Methodist church in California:

For the Escondido church, and like-minded congregations, evangelism is more about relationships than conversions. “Evangelism is our work, and conversion is God’s work,” says Conklin. “It’s not my job to save your soul. That’s God’s task.”

Instead, she speaks of evangelism in terms of study groups, sports teams and even a monthly movie night at the church. “How do you share your passion (for Jesus) in such a way that other people aren’t put off by it?” she says. “And the answer, I think, is that you start by listening. And you have to listen to where people are and sometimes we’re not good at listening. We go out and tell them the answers to questions they don’t ask.”

(for more on this perspective and this movement, click here.)

Why are people put off by your passion for Jesus?  I thought that was the thing that was going to turn them to us?  Our job as ambassadors for the Messiah, here in his stead with the word of reconciliation is to live for him, like him and speak his gospel.  We don’t have to make it more complicated than that.

There might be things in our hearts and life that stop us from preaching (speaking) the gospel.  What are these things?  Before you finish reading this blog post and prepare to comment or close your browser window…in the quiet of your own office/computer room/internet cafe, etc. take time and ask God to search your heart on this matter.

In our heart of hearts I’m sure we all agree that evangelism is something Jesus wants us to be doing.  In the past I have let my fear stop me.  God can deliver us from this!  In the past I have believed the lie of lifestyle evangelism.  God can show us the truth!  At times I get lazy or selfish and don’t go out or take the opportunities that God gives me.  Oh LORD, help me burn with a passion for the lost in the depths of my heart!

I believe the idea of lifestyle evangelism boils down to a good sounding excuse to not speak the gospel to other.  I don’t want to have any excuses anymore.  No matter how good they sound.

  • What do you think?
  • What do you think of the idea of “lifestyle evangelism”?
  • Is it Biblical?
  • What is there to fear when speaking the gospel?
  • Are there any good excuses we can think of to get out of this?
  • What stops us from preaching the gospel?
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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Marcy on March 9, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    I think the idea of ” lifestyle evangelism” is a great way to do what our flesh craves and so desires to do. To do what it in the bible anywhere. Stephen got stoned to death in the book of Acts because he was speaking, not because he was feeding the widows. No excuse we make is ever good enough to get out of preaching the gospel, but sadly many of us fall victim to justifying why we don’t preach gospel and then listening to others who help us justify why we haven’t preached the gospel that day, week, or month. I think we can think of plenty of “good” excuses because aren’t they all good? At least in our minds and reasoning. I believe fear and being busy with our own lifes and those we love stop us. Fear of what peoples responses will be I think is what stops us. I pray that all my excuses of why I don’t speak will appear to be exactly what they are, crimes against God, and that God will reignite the burning desire in me to speak to the lost, no matter what the cost is.

    Reply

  2. Amen to that.
    Why is it that some think it is an excuse while others think it is completely fine?
    hmm…don’t know
    -VG

    Reply

  3. we truly are not being loving or kind if we do not try to find the opportunity to speak the words of life to those who we interact with daily. Looking for an open door , walking through when the time is right.

    Reply

  4. “don’t elevate friendship evangelism so that you can’t evangelize to people who hate you. It says that all men will hate you.”

    – John Piper
    “Sheep in the midst of wolves” sermon 10/21/07

    Reply

  5. Excellent post! Amen!
    Fear keeps many from sharing Jesus with others. In areas such as the work place, we need to make sure we are living a life that backs our preaching. The foundation of living right must be laid before speaking. Once that stays in place, then we have something for them to see, along with our words. I certainly do not minimize the need of speaking up for Christ, it must be done.
    Thanks, and may God be with you,
    Richard

    Reply

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