Witnessing the Witnesses
In evangelism, the approach matters at least as much as the content. It’s not just what we say but how we say it that determines our effectiveness. Many Christians shudder when called to defend the faith even when acting so boldly in our training or online debates. Like an "expert" shower-singer challenged to take the stage, we need to be ready to put our practice to the test. Fortunately, most people find it easier to obtain the right tactic than master enough knowledge for every situation. That’s good news since a less educated winsome manner comes across better than a rude intellectualism.
Reflecting on a recent encounter lead me to investigate a biblical approach. While the following account involves Jehovah’s Witnesses, the same general guidelines apply to any gospel outreach. In my assessment of the dialogue, I’ve identified four key& phases of biblical evangelism which I will mention along the way and list out at the end.
Returning from a jog the other day I noticed a team of Jehovah’s Witnesses canvassing my neighborhood. For all the wrong reasons it’s always the wrong time when the knock comes at my door. So I decided to seize the opportunity by approaching them on my terms. I’ve always prayed for God to prepare me to make an impact on people and it occurred to me this was one of those times (Phase 1: Prayerfully Watch).
After an eight mile jog and a toddler-filled stroller, I changed course in the direction of a well-dressed married couple Frank and Sheila (Phase 2: Engage). "What brings you out this fine day?" I inquired. Frank, a middle-aged former Roman Catholic, carried most the conversation as we walked the sidewalk with Sheila following close behind listening carefully and offering the occasional soft-spoken supplement to Frank’s points. He started by telling me how they "were out sharing the truth about Jesus." What a wonderful place to start, I thought. So I took Frank up on his offer and asked if we could take a short walk together.
I said it’s a worthy question to ask whether biblical claims are true (Phase 3: Reflect). After exchanging evidences for biblical reliability, it seemed we both held a high view of Scripture. So I wondered why they would want to spend their day sharing the "truth of Jesus" with classical Christians like me when their view is virtually the same? So I bluntly asked them to tell me the difference…
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