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                       "RELATIONSHIP EVANGELISM"

             Definition And Value Of Relationship Evangelism


1. In our beginning study, we examined some of the forces which hinder
   our effectiveness in evangelism...
   a. Too many people
   b. Life is too fast and complicated
   c. Our exposure to limited evangelism models
   d. Misunderstanding "separation"
   e. The credibility gap

2. One approach to evangelism that takes these forces into consideration
   is "Relationship Evangelism" (also known as "Lifestyle Evangelism")

3. The purpose in this lesson is to DEFINE what "Relationship
   Evangelism" is, and then notice its VALUE in comparison to other
   methods of evangelism


      1. First and foremost is the message of the gospel of Christ 
         - Ro 1:16
      2. But there is also the manifestation of the gospel in the life 
         of the Christian - cf. 1 Pe 3:1-2

      1. Adapting the two means to the best advantage for the person we
         are seeking to lead to Christ
      2. A process of developing meaningful relationships with other 
         a. In which we allow the beauty of the gospel to first be 
            demonstrated in our lives
         b. In which we "build bridges" (develop relationships) with our
            prospects that allow the "traffic" (i.e., the gospel) to 
            flow freely and naturally
      3. That which involves gradually developing relationships with 
         those who are lost...
         a. By working with an unlimited pool of contacts (family,
            friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.)
         b. By normally starting with those closest to us and working
            outward in "concentric circles of concern"
      4. The development of relationships that involve several
         progressive levels...
         a) The initial contact
         b) Becoming better acquainted
         c) Being a servant
         d) Being a friend
         e) Sharing your faith
         f) Witness of the "Body"
         g) Exposure to the gospel
         h) Invitation
         -- These will be covered in more detail in succeeding lessons

[Therefore, "Relationship Evangelism" is where we have enough love and
concern for the lost...
      1) That we are willing to make the effort to develop relationships
         with them

      2) So that we can by both "word" and "example" share the gospel of
         Christ with them

What value does this approach have over others?]


      1. "Relationship Evangelism" requires that our spiritual growth
         and development be what it should be!
         a. Other forms of evangelism (e.g., preaching, door-knocking,
            correspondence courses, etc.) can be utilized by hypocrites
            or those less than truly dedicated Christians
         b. But to be effective in "Relationship Evangelism" our lives
            must be:
            1) "An open book"
            2) "Rated G"
            3) "...an epistle of Christ, known and read by all men." 
               - cf. 2 Co 3:2-3
      2. So by adopting this approach to evangelism, it will:
         a. Motivate us to draw closer to God
         b. Make us better Christians 

      1. "Relationship Evangelism" gets us out of the church building,
         into the lives of those who are lost
         a. Where we can be "salt" and "light"
         b. Where we can humbly demonstrate a better way of life
      2. Adopting this approach to evangelism can:
         a. Make our neighborhoods a better place in which to live
         b. Improve the moral environment in our places of employment

      1. What may have worked well in times past may not today because
         of changing conditions
         a. It used to be that the majority of Americans were of a 
            "Christian" background
            1) Though non-Christians, they held to basic Christian 
               morals and beliefs (God, the Bible, the Judgment, etc.)
            2) In such cases, a simple presentation of the gospel was 
               often all that was needed
            3) But today, the majority is now what can be called 
               "secular, or other religion" background
               a) I.e., worldly-minded, or holding to non-Christian 
                  religions, they do not hold to basic Christian morals
                  and beliefs
               b) In such cases, a lot of preparation of the "soil" must
                  sometimes be made prior to the planting of the "seed"
         b. It used to be that most Christians knew how to easily 
            develop new relationships with other people
            1) Many Christians had close friends, associates, who though
               of a "Christian" background were like Apollos - cf. Ac
            2) In such relationships, it was easy to discuss religious
               differences over a period of time without breaking off 
               all contact after a few disagreements
            3) But due to the "hindrances" mentioned in our first 
               lesson, many Christians today don't have such 
               relationships, and don't know how to be close friends
               with those of different faiths
         c. Again, "Relationship Evangelism" takes these changing
            conditions into consideration
      2. In his book, "Why Churches Grow," Flavil Yeakley made the
         following observations based upon his study of growing and
         dying churches:
         a. "The data presented in these tables strongly support the
            idea that establishment of a pattern of friendship is an
            important part of the conversion process." (p. 64)
         b. "Thus the Christ who lives in the heart of the individual
            members of that congregation is formed in the heart of the
            new convert.  A personal relationship is essential in the 
            process." (p. 53)
         c. "These data suggest that when subjects formed personal 
            relationships with members of the congregation, they were
            likely to remain faithful.  When they did not form such 
            personal relationships, they were likely to drop out of the
             church." (p.54)
         d. I.e., where a personal relationship was used as a vehicle to
            present the gospel...
            1) A person is more likely to convert to Christ
            2) A person is more likely to remain converted to Christ
      3. Finally, consider the results of a survey by The Institute For
         American Church Growth, who asked over 10,000 people this 
         question:  "What was responsible for your coming to Christ and
         this church?"  - Their replies:
         a. I had a special need - 2%
         b. I just walked in - 3%
         c. I like the minister - 6%
         d. I visited there - 1%
         e. I like the Bible classes - 5%
         f. I attended a gospel meeting - 0.5%
         g. I liked the programs - 3%
         h. A friend or relative invited me - 79%
         -- Does this not tell us something?


1. I am not suggesting that "Relationship Evangelism" is the ONLY way
   to do personal work
   a. Many souls have been brought to Christ through other means
   b. It may be that you are more suited to use other methods

2. But "Relationship Evangelism" is a viable option which...
   a. Takes into consideration some of the forces which hinder our 
      effectiveness in evangelism
   b. Makes us better Christians in the process of trying to influence
      the lost
   c. Is an easy, natural, less confrontational way to share the gospel
      with others
   d. Is more likely to be successful in leading souls to Christ and 
      keeping them faithful to the Lord!

3. In the next lesson, we will discuss "The Evangelism Prospect List,"
   a helpful tool in developing relationships with non-Christians

NOTE:  At this point the material in this series might best be used by
Christians in a weekly class in which they meet to:

   1) Study and discuss the remaining material

   2) Encourage one another to set weekly goals for implementing the
      suggestions that will be made in later lessons

   3) Evaluate the success or failure to meet such goals and make
      whatever alterations may be deemed suitable in setting new goals
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