Get Into the Game of Apologetics and Evangelism
by Donnie Griffin
Several years ago, I read a book by Norman Geisler and his son David titled Conversational Evangelism. It’s subtitle was how to listen and speak so you can be heard. I was attempting to deal with a problem of my own in which I had become self-aware. It’s hard for some people (sometimes including myself) to evangelize. The point of this book by the Geislers, was to inform people of the importance of evangelizing and to give them the confidence to do it.
The fact is that there are many of us who need to get into the game of apologetics and evangelism. Whether we’re afraid of the tough apologetics questions that come with giving the gospel, or we’re simply intimidated by beginning or having a conversation, many times we allow fear to keep us from doing what it is that we are called to do. Relational or conversational evangelism and apologetics can be a helpful and practical way for many of us to overcome that.
Now, I recognize that there are those who belligerently oppose any system of so-called relational evangelism. I recently listened to a podcast in which the podcaster berated those who would develop relationships with people for the purpose of evangelizing. He used the Great Commission to prove his point. “We are not called to relationships”, he said. Neither are we commanded to go, he proposed. “We are commanded to make disciples”, he argued.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV)
All of that is fine, but I believe he is missing the point. There is no way to make disciples without being in a relationship with the people who we are discipling, is there?
I know that this person, a pastor, means something a little different when he complains about relational evangelism. His main complaint is not that people shouldn’t have relationships but rather that people should get on with evangelizing regardless of the relationship. The evangelism shouldn’t be contingent upon the relationship. Just give the good news as written in the Word of God, he might say. The problem is that he built a straw man and called it relational evangelism. Most of the time when people are talking about relational evangelism, they are not trying to say that the evangelism should be contingent upon the relationship.
The reason that I brought up his attack on this method of evangelism is that’s what people hear quite a bit when they’re struggling to evangelize, and I don’t think that that kind of rhetoric is very helpful…
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