What Unlikely Converts Can Train Us About Evangelism (and Ourselves)

Maybe nothing is extra encouraging to Christians than a conversion story. Like our Savior, we rejoice to listen to of even one sinner who repents, which makes the most recent providing from Randy Newman, Unlikely Converts: Unbelievable Tales of Religion and What They Train Us about Evangelism, a very heartening learn. He tells the tales of many who’ve come to religion in Christ, some in quite sudden methods.

That is acquainted floor for Newman. His well-known work Questioning Evangelism displays on the evangelistic methodology of Jesus, serving to us have interaction others with the gospel by asking questions. However this latest guide follows a distinct path. Right here Newman—senior educating fellow with The C. S. Lewis Institute in Washington, D.C.—speaks with a number of unlikely converts, researching their testimonies, then gleaning observations each sensible and in addition biblical for all would-be evangelists.

Evangelism Is a Course of

Coming to Christ takes time. If there’s one lesson that permeates Newman’s analysis, it’s this: folks usually settle for the gospel step by step. This isn’t to argue towards conversion as a piece of the Spirit at a time limit. However it’s a recognition that the Spirit typically opens blinded eyes via a sequence of occasions. He tends to take action via the witness of believers over a interval of weeks, months, even years.

Some do expertise sudden conversion, after all; there’s no prerequisite to religion. However once we see dramatic transformation in a second, we typically overlook all that led to that time. For instance, instantaneous conversion tales from the Bible are themselves typically the results of what some would possibly name “pre-evangelism.” Whether or not it’s the girl on the nicely (John 4), the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), Cornelius (Acts 10), or the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), every had prior publicity to Scripture and the believing neighborhood.

Given this level, Newman suggests numerous functions. He reinforces the advantages of pre-evangelism, the work we do to arrange others to obtain the gospel. However he additionally advocates for the work we do to arrange ourselves with the gospel, what he calls evangelistic brainstorming. To this finish, every chapter concludes with questions to assist us suppose forward of time, earlier than we attempt to communicate the excellent news with others.

Individuals usually settle for the gospel step by step.

Understanding the method of conversion helps our evangelistic strategy in different methods. Christians are likely to withhold the gospel based mostly on our assumptions of others’ curiosity within the gospel. However as Newman exhibits within the quite a few tales, unbelievers hardly ever verbalize what they’re internally processing. In actual fact, typically their ideas are in direct battle with their demeanor and actions. Simply because an individual leads a promiscuous way of life doesn’t imply they’re satisfied it’s both proper or good. Solely when somebody takes the initiative to ask a private query, give them a Bible, invite them to church, or communicate the gospel does their inside processing on non secular issues is engaged.

Recognizing that conversion takes time additionally frees us from feeling like we should seal the deal in any given dialog. We haven’t failed if somebody doesn’t reply instantly. We additionally don’t should have all of the solutions on the spot. Merely beginning the dialog is essential. We will depart folks with nuggets of fact. Or we will problem them with a provocative query, then give them area to course of their ideas and return. As Newman places it, “We want to engage more than amaze.”

There’s a potential pitfall right here. After we observe that folks are likely to imagine step by step, does that imply we should always at all times take a gradual strategy? I don’t suppose so. Additionally, is it potential that these testimonies replicate extra on the best way we are likely to strategy evangelism (tentatively) than on the best way God saves? These are vital questions. And nevertheless we’d reply, I believe Newman would agree that being affected person in our evangelism doesn’t suggest that we should always keep away from tough truths (akin to hell or judgment) or ignore requires repentance.

Evangelism Is a Group Venture

Studying the tales of how varied folks come to religion in Christ, you quickly notice that efficient evangelism occurs in varied methods, and it consists of a wide range of folks. One vegetation; one other waters; however God offers the expansion (1 Cor. 3:6–9). Evangelism, like gardening, is a course of, and it typically entails many contributors. New converts sometimes want to listen to the gospel greater than as soon as, and they should hear it—typically otherwise—from a couple of particular person. This guide helps us see the half every of us can play with our number of items. Nobody particular person or persona makes for the right evangelist.

This realization additionally performs into the significance of the native church for evangelism. As Newman asserts, “The concept of body evangelism can’t be overstressed. If people need to hear multiple presentations from numerous voices and see the gospel lived out in a variety of ways, what better place for that to occur than in a local church?”

Evangelism, like gardening, is a course of, and it typically entails many contributors.

Time and again these tales present how individuals are drawn to Christ via his folks. This, to me, makes whole sense, as a result of Christian conversion is extra than simply choosing a perception system. It’s much more than “choosing Christ.” It’s like discovering a household. We’ve all heard that Christian hypocrisy is among the major explanation why folks reject the gospel. That assertion, if true, is actually disheartening. However it will also be very encouraging. As a result of, if the inverse is true, it might imply {that a} wholesome church and gracious Christians shall be a profound motive for unbelievers to obtain the excellent news about Jesus.

In fact, this exhibits that, irrespective of how extraordinary somebody’s conversion could also be—and all Christian conversion is miraculous—evangelism tends to be abnormal. Many of those tales are of people that had been, so to talk, stunning converts. However their conversion tended to be the results of the abnormal technique of kindness, prayer, service, persistence, and devoted witness.

Unlikely Converts, Unlikely Evangelists

Newman’s guide about unlikely converts is probably most useful because it expands our classes. He needs us to see the capaciousness of the gospel, and of the act of evangelism itself. The gospel is for everybody. And the duty of evangelism consists of each Christian—even these you’d least anticipate. In all of this, the underlying theme Newman emphasizes is God’s highly effective work in salvation from starting to finish. Nothing shall be unimaginable with God. As such, Christian conversion isn’t really “unlikely.”

The gospel is for everybody. And the duty of evangelism consists of each Christian—even these you’d least anticipate.

With the guide drawing to a detailed, after introducing us to so many others, Newman takes time to recollect his private journey to religion in Christ. It’s virtually as if he can’t assist however inform his personal story. It’s the story of a disaffected Jewish child, disconnected from God, however who listened in on his mates’ prayers. It’s the story of a teen who was invited to youth group and maybe went for the unsuitable causes. It’s the story of an mental faculty pupil who drank an excessive amount of however nonetheless felt empty. It’s the story of a younger man who saved encountering Christians, saved listening to the gospel, and who ultimately turned an unlikely evangelist.

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