Autor: Rebecca Pippert
Category: Persönliches Zeugnis
When you consider the vast differences that exist amongst the cultures of the world - are there common fears that believers share, regardless of the country or culture, when it comes to sharing the Good News? What are we to learn from this?
My husband and I have given evangelism training conferences around the world and on every continent. We have taught Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants. We have given conferences in large urban cities and in villages - to traditional cultures and to the postmodern west.
Our conclusion is this: most Christians struggle to be effective witnesses where they are placed. Many lack confidence and fear saying or doing the wrong thing. While this is more prevalent in Western cultures, we hear similar fears from those in the Global South.
What we find, no matter how diverse the cultures, is that the issues raised are remarkably the same: what if we offend?; what if we are rejected or marginalized?; what if they ask us questions we can’t answer?; how can we be a witness when our own lives aren’t perfect?; how do we raise the topic of faith naturally and arouse curiosity in seekers?; how do we share the gospel in a way that is culturally relevant, biblically faithful and contextually sensitive? The bottom line: believers often feel inadequate and fearful when it comes to personal witness.
This sense of inadequacy must not be overlooked. To offer evangelism programs without first helping Christians know how to share their faith is misguided. It isn’t enough to say “Just invite a seeker to the event and then let the professionals do the speaking.” Personal witness isn’t a matter of letting the professionals do the work for us. Evangelism is something far more organic. It must flow from our real lives. It must start with building authentic relationships with people with whom our lives naturally intersect. The foundational key then is first helping believers develop confidence and competence in their personal witness.
What are some of the issues that must be addressed in personal evangelism training? They must see the necessity of having non-Christian friends! Most of the believers we train are the first to admit that all of their friends are believers. But Jesus didn’t call us to be a “Holy Huddle”! Evangelism isn’t something we go out and DO - and then rush back to the safety of our Christian community. Jesus called us to be “salt” and “light.” How are we going to be the salt of the earth if we never get out of the salt shaker?!
Another problem has been the tendency in the West to see evangelism training as simply learning techniques. But techniques do not motivate us at a deeper level. Nor are they effective in building authentic relationships. This isn’t to diminish the importance of offering practical help. But the practical must be framed within a deeper theological understanding . Our effectiveness in witness does not come from learning new methods but from understanding the message of who Christ is. It is our theology that must impact our methodology. To put it another way: knowing Christ well is what motivates us to make Him well-known. Therefore our training must be grounded in deeper theological truth rather than simply teaching techniques.
Thirdly, we must have a holistic understanding of evangelism. Witness in the Bible is not limited to merely what we say. Neither is it limited to acts of mercy. Witness always involves 4 aspects: being (the integrity of the witness), telling (verbal witness) doing (acts of mercy and justice) and depending (on the power of God’s Spirit and Word). A credible message needs credible messengers - people whose lives evidence the truth of what they proclaim. And the New Testament does not drive a wedge between a “personal gospel” and a “social gospel.” There is only one gospel of Jesus Christ, which is both personal and social. It is a gospel that cares passionately about salvation. And it is a gospel whose implications must be lived out and redemptively applied to every aspect of our broken and battered planet.
So this is where we start. Helping Christians learn how to share their faith in a natural and effective way. But do we have a model for communicating the gospel that honors our cultural differences without compromising biblical fidelity? Stay tuned for the next blog!