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December 15, 2016

What to Do and What Not to Do, that’s the Question

By Daniel Im

*Plus Members can watch this entire Behind-The-Scenes interview by logging in and clicking here.

What to Do and What Not to Do, that’s the Question

When I was pastoring in Montreal, I remember driving down to upstate New York with my wife to do some shopping. When it was time for dinner, we felt like Italian, so instead of looking up a restaurant on Yelp (it didn’t exist back then), we just went to the closest one in the strip mall.

The restaurant looked nice and trendy, but the wait staff seemed too friendly with one another. This should’ve been a warning sign.

Nevertheless, after being seated, what ended up taking place is something I would not even wish on my worst enemies. We literally had to flag down the waiter for everything—to get our water, to take our order, to get refills, and then finally, to get our check. I’m not even joking. The whole process from getting the check, to leaving my credit card there, to getting it back took more than 30 minutes.

Upon leaving the restaurant, guess what we saw? Our waiter hitting on his coworkers. I wanted to say something, but I decided to exercise some restraint and hold my tongue. After all, I didn’t want to ruin the date…

In every situation there’s a right way to handle things and a wrong way. In other words, there’s a “what to do” and a “what not to do.”

Recently, I conversed with Andy Smits, the National Director for Québec for Power to Change Students (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada), about what to do versus what not to do when it came to evangelism and fundraising.

What to Do and What Not to Do—Evangelism

I think anyone who has engaged in evangelism for any amount of time has had moments where they felt like they fumbled an opportunity to connect with someone far from Christ, to create the tension of why that person needs Christ, or to communicate clearly what it means to follow Christ. Truthfully, I would rather hear stories of people fumbling in their engagement of evangelism versus no stories at all. In fact, Paul told the Philippians that he rejoiced simply in that Christ was proclaimed (Phil 1:15–18).

However, I think there’s a lot we can learn from both our botched attempts as well as other’s botched attempts at evangelism.

During my conversation, Andy shared some advice from his experiences over the years of what not to do in evangelism. Two of his thoughts really resonated with me. First, Andy learned that he began by asking the wrong questions. Early on he began his questions from a biblical perspective using bible lingo. Andy found that beginning with the wrong questions sparked division and debate rather than interest and connection.

Second, Andy emphasized that evangelism shouldn’t be approached in a “drive-by” or quick manner, but in a relational way. When evangelism is largely treated as a project (i.e., being able to write down the number of “gospel” conversations for a denominational report), rather than engaging people for whom Christ died, there’s a tendency to cut straight to the point and check a box rather than seeking to understand before being understood.

Rather than moving quickly or unwisely, Andy suggests that to do evangelism effectively requires: consistency in relationship, learning to ask the right questions, being willing to listen, and contextualizing the gospel in the heart language of the people/person you’re trying to reach. Let me define each one of those briefly.

  • Consistency in relationship. Befriend people relationally, allowing them to belong before they believe.
  • Learning to ask the right questions. Unless people come from a similar background—particularly a spiritual background—they won’t communicate in a way we are familiar with. Thus, learning to ask the right questions will open the door to sharing the gospel with people.
  • Willing to listen. A willingness to listen consists of an ability to ask more probing questions that gets to the heart, tension, and even inconsistency of what they believe. It’s what some call, positive deconstruction.
  • Contextualizing the gospel in their heart language. Building a relationship, asking the right questions, and listening leads to a solid understanding of a person, which provides the platform to contextually communicate how the gospel applies specifically to their life.

Tweetables:

  • What should we do, what should we not do in evangelism?
  • What should we do, what should we not do in fundraising?
  • I would rather hear stories of people fumbling in their engagement of evangelism versus no stories at all.
  • Beginning with the wrong questions in evangelism can spark division and debate rather than interest and connection. @andyjsmits
  • Evangelism shouldn’t be treated as a project to finish, but an opportunity to get to know a person for whom Christ died.
  • Fundraisers should not communicate a “need” but a vision. @andyjsmits
  • Fundraisers should: understand their calling, cast a clear, succinct, & compelling vision, & invite people to “partner” in specific ways.
  • Fundraisers shouldn’t view people as the source of one’s needs, but see the Lord as the source who meets your needs. @andyjsmits

To learn from Andy’s 10+ years of experience fundraising and helping others do so, click here to read the final points and watch the entire Behind the Scenes video.

This video is part of Plus Membership, so to get full access to it, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.

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