Thursday, November 4

Rejecting those forms of evangelism that brought us to faith

Frank Viola recently dared to challenge some of the common held beliefs about evangelism with his controversial post Rethinking Evangelism.

My purpose is not to rehash Frank's words in this post. I chose to express my own thoughts as one of the 128 comments which the post has generated to date (see comments #15-18.)

What I think needs to be said about evangelism is simply this: just about any kind of intentional evangelism is better than no evangelism at all.

It would seem that many of those who are most critical of certain kinds of evangelistic methods are the ones who are least involved in personally evangelizing others. To criticize the simplistic methods others are attempting without personally doing anything at all to win others to Christ seems a bit hypocritical.

I fully agree with another commenter on Frank's post Dan Kimbal (#27 down) who stated it this way:

I was at a NT Wright event recently and he said something to the sort, that today we often reject the very forms of evangelism that brought us to faith because we now see them as simplistic. Which they might have been true. But he then said maybe these simple forms are what God uses, as he knew people who stay in the faith for their lifetimes as a result. And it is almost becoming an excuse not to evangelize or to have reasons for not seeing new disciples, blaming for simplistic forms – and ironically, the very ones which God used often to bring us to a decision point for Jesus. It is fascinating to hear that such a large majority of us came to faith in Jesus through an altar call (like I believe you told me you did) or someone sharing with us directly about faith who did “evangelize” us. But now we say that isn’t right, but at the same time being in a local church we just baptized 15 people last week and listening to their stories they were “evangelized” as in proclaiming the good news from someone. Either a family member, or someone who was a friend or someone at the church took the time to explain and go out of their way with them. And I am so happy someone did with me. But all these stories has someone taking the effort and time to do so. It didn’t happen via osmosis without words, explanation also taking place intentionally.

In our own ministry we teach many different contextualized ways we believe are effective in sharing the Gospel with not-yet-believers. We expose trainees to six methods/tools for using in small group evangelism, four ways to evangelize in large groups, and ten tools for personal evangelism.

What we encourage is to use these as an evangelism TOOL BOX. Use the tool that is needed for the situation at hand. You don't want to use a hammer for every job. Sometimes a screw driver is needed, or a wrench, or a combination of various different tools. But all tools are useful in the right context.

I can't tell you how many people have come to Christ over the past decade of teaching these "simplistic" methods. The very ones reached with these "outmoded" methods are today using them to reach their own friends, neighbors, and family. These new believers are then taught to do the same.

As the previous blog entry video slide show of the 60 years of Baptist missionary presence in Ecuador reminded me; it is not so much about what methods were used to bring the Good News to Ecuador. What matters is that people did proclaim and continue to share the Gospel. Some methods are certainly more effective than others, but just about anything attempted is better than nothing at all.


Anonymous said...

Pues, querido y estimado Guido, todos nuestros métodos deben cuadrar con las preferencias de aprendizaje de los oyentes. “Los que oyen el mensaje del reino y no lo entienden, son como la semilla que cayó en el camino; viene el maligno y les quita el mensaje sembrado en su corazón” Mateo 13:19(DHH) “Pero la semilla sembrada en buena tierra representa a los que oyen el mensaje y lo entienden y dan una buena cosecha, como las espigas que dieron cien, sesenta o treinta granos por semilla." Mateo 13:23(DHH). Me parece que entendimiento es la clave. Será absurdo hablar en voz alta en ingles a uno que no habla dicho idioma. Será absurdo insistir en tratar de hacer discípulos de Jesucristo a traves de métodos que no llevan los oyentes al entendimiento. De me parte prefiero ocupar la metodología del mejor narrador de la historia, Jesús. Es sencilla pero muy profunda. De todos modos siempre habrá personas que entiendan o no entiendan por una razón u otra. Te toca a ti a los demás.

Anonymous said...

Great Post Guido! :)
I totally agree-


GuyMuse said...

Mr. Esteban,

Gracias por tus excelentes aportes al tema. Concuerdo con tus observaciones, y en especial a la parte donde dices que el entendimiento es la clave. We must learn to package our message in ways clearly understood by our hearers. No se si aun has tenido tiempo de leer el post de Frank que motivo estas palabras, pero me preocupa que hay muchos que se estan alejando de la tarea de compartir la Palabra de Dios.

Sra. Beth,

Thanks! I hope your 2-month checkup goes well today. How is T coming along with the Spanish?

GuyMuse said...

COMMENT RECEIVED FROM FRANK VIOLA VIA EMAIL (was unable to post directly to the blog):


Guy, thanks for linking to my post. The conversation in the comments section on that particular post has been very instructive. One of things that came out in that discussion is that those who are critical of certain methodologies of modern evangelism actually testified that they are much more effective at bringing people to the Lord (at whatever point that would be on the race track, using the metaphor at the top of the post) now than they were before when they were guilted into sharing the gospel with others. This has been my own observation also over the last 30 years. Your readers may want to see my response to Dan Kimball. It's in the comments section on the original post. Blessings on your work, bro.

Anonymous said...

La pura verdad es que no soy amigo, tampoco enemigo, de las escrituras de Frank Viola. Resulta que muchos en un intento de ser radical se caen el legalismo y paganismo. Si uno quiere ser radical debe leer el Evangelio de San Lucas por un mes y ponerlo en práctica. Lamentablemente mucho cristianos norteamericanos hablan y siguen la política de un mormón en vez de seguir el verdadero Maestro. Soy devoto de Jesucristo, nada más, nada menos. Hablamos de deportes, del clima, de comida y mucho más. Nos toca, nos impulsa hablar de Jesús.


GuyMuse said...


Your challenge to live the Gospel is certainly applicable to what we all need to do. Too many of us are satisfied with knowing the Gospel, but not living out the commands and teachings of our Lord. I like your suggestion that we all spend a month in Luke and become true Jesus followers.

P.S. If you'd like me to translate this into Spanish for you, I can do it! :)

GuyMuse said...


Thanks for taking a moment of your time to comment. I would encourage my handful of "M Blog" readers to click onto the link to your post and read, not only your thoughts, but the good discussion that takes place between you and your readers (129 comments and counting!) Again, thanks for stopping by.

Mlabus said...

Thanks for taking the time to post this Guy. We also have various methods for sharing the Gospel here in the "other" part of Ecuador and it has been quite effective. Over 90% of those whom we share the gospel with are still involved in the community of faith after 1 year.

My primary issue with Frank in the blog post you mentioned is the idea that the Great Commission, in his estimation, is not trans-generational. I have also left various comments there. Peace to you and yours


GuyMuse said...


Wow, 90% of those whom we share the gospel with are still involved in the community of faith after 1 year... Sounds like we need to be paying some attention to what you guys are doing. That is amazing! I'd be interested in reading more about what kinds of things you are doing up there under that cloud covering!

Cam said...

I got a presentation of the gospel every morning of my sixth grade the end of the year, ca. 180 presentations... I prayed to receive Christ.
The presenter: a young preacher named Jim.
The medium: a TV show called, at that time, The PTL Club.
Praise the Lord!

GuyMuse said...


Thanks for helping me make my point. We never know who's lives those 'simplistic' Gospel presentations might touch. Our job is to share, the HS's is to convict.