Love and friendship evangelism

Meeting felt needs

Many non-Christians are put off by Christians because we sometimes act as if we are only interested in getting them to make a decision, and not because we really care for them.

Nobody will be fooled by this. Once it is clear that we are only interested in getting something from them, they will not be interested in developing a friendship with us.

The Institute of American Church Growth polled more than 14,000 Christians and asked them, “What or who was responsible for you coming to Christ?” Ninety percent of the respondants stated that a friend or a relative who cared for them and invested time in them was the primary factor in their decision to accept Christ as their Savior.

Even people who are resistant to the gospel will drop their hostility if Christians are kind to them. The early Christians gained favor among the people through kind acts and unselfish sharing.

God can use our resources to help other people and thereby show kindness. What do you have that can help your friend in need? Maybe you can provide a listening ear or even financial help to someone who has lost a job.

When we help someone during their time of need, we earn their respect and trust. That means that when we share the gospel with them in the future, it is more likely that they will listen to us because we have earned the right to be heard. It does not mean that they will definitely believe. But they will probably hear us out seriously while others who have not ministered to them may not have that opportunity to be heard.

God can also use your sufferings to help other people. Perhaps you have lost a job before and that helps you to understand the sufferings of people who do. Or you may be sick and can relate to people who have the same sickness.

Acts 9:36­39 (NIV) In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died…. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

(Acts 2:44-47 NIV) All the believers were together and had everything in common. {45} Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. {46} Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, {47} praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Jesus does not go round in His pious self and just preach God’s word. He spent a lot of His time meeting the physical needs of people, healing the sick, freeing the demon possessed, feeding the hungry, etc. This is absolutely necessary because when a person=s need is not met, he will probably not concern himself with religious issues.

Abraham Maslow taught that individuals have five basic level of needs.

1. Physiological needs : food, shelter, clothing, warmth

2. Safety and security needs

3. Love and affection needs

4. Esteem needs

5. Self-actualisation needs (the need to realize one’s full potential)

If the lower level needs are not being met, it is unlikely that higher level needs like religion will even be considered.

Another reason why meeting needs is so important is because Christians can be easily branded as hypocrites if all they do is preach about love but does nothing to help others physically.

Tell unbelievers that God loves them

(Acts 13:46-49 NIV) Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. {47} For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” {48} When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. {49} The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.

The Gentiles accepted the message readily because they were glad that God loves them too and not just the Jews. Likewise a person accepts the gospel much more easily if he believes that God loves him. That is why a person who is bitter in life and angry with God has difficulty coming to believe in God’s message of salvation.

Lifestyle evangelism

To many people, especially our parents and grandparents who are uneducated, the only Bible they may ever read is your life.

Matthew 5:16 (NIV) In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Lot’s testimony was so bad that when he warned his relatives about God’s judgment, they thought he was only joking.

Genesis 19:10­14 (NIV) But the men (i.e. angels) inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. 12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here ­­sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons­in­-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-­in­-law thought he was joking.

If Christians will show that we have a higher standard of living, perhaps more people would be willing to become Christians. Very often we show that being a Christian is nothing but hard work, going to church, giving money, etc. But we show no benefits. When we encounter problems, we fret and worry like everybody else. When we face pressure, we crack down as if we do not have a powerful and loving God who will take care of us.

Friendship evangelism

What is friendship evangelism?

Friendship evangelism is not about meeting urgent needs. It is about just being a friend.

Studies have shown that people normally have seven to nine contacts with the gospel message before they receive Jesus. That means that we should not approach evangelism with a hit-and-run attitude. We should continue to maintain contact with someone even though they may not immediately believe.

We should have common interests with non-believers so that we can spend time with them. Christians should not box themselves in their own world and become so heaven oriented that they have no earthly good. Jesus always has time to spend with non-believers. He did not spend all his time in the synagogue.

Pray that God will give you the opportunity to share with this friend about Jesus.

(Col 4:3-4 NIV) And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. {4} Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

List down the people you would like to share the gospel with.

Invite them for evangelistic events

Biblical example

(Mat 9:9-10 NIV) As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. {10} While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.

After Matthew followed Jesus, he invited his friends to his house for dinner and that provided an opportunity for them to hear Jesus.

Some non-believers will hesitate about going to a church but they will feel less threatened with a social invitation. We can use social events as an opportunity to meet them and look for opportunities to inject the message of salvation into our casual conversations.