Relational Evangelism

Written by Drew on March 19th, 2009

God wants people to obey the gospel from the heart. Even though he has unlimited power, he exercises incredible restraint to wait for us to respond to the costly gift of his Son Jesus, who died on the cross. We see this restraint in 1 Timothy 2:4, which tells us God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Despite the fact that his desire is for all to be saved, he gives humanity a choice by revealing the truth and leaving it up to us to decide whether or not to obey it.

Because conversion cannot be forced, Paul expresses gratitude for those who had obeyed the gospel in Rome: “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (Rom. 6:17, emphasis added). This is real obedience. Their response was a genuine belief in the gospel’s power to save.

When a person is coerced into obedience, he will not remain faithful. There is no love for God in his heart, only a feeling produced by pressure applied by another person. Either he will recognize the insincerity of his heart, or the other person will tire and withdraw the pressure, and he will fall away.

Despite what we know about the ineffectiveness of coerced responses to the gospel, we have a tendency to fall back on this strategy to bring the lost to Christ. Our tactics are sometimes not all that different from an intervention staged by family and friends to confront an addict. After years of saying nothing, we blitz the prospect with scare tactics and arguments, hoping one frantic conversation will undo years of sin and false information.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.” Before you can teach someone the gospel, you must win his heart. After all, teaching, if it is done right, penetrates the heart. Solomon said “wisdom will come into your heart” (Prov. 2:10). As in the Parable of the Sower, evangelism is not unlike farming. First the ground must be properly cultivated, then you can sow, expecting a crop.

Start working on your relationships with those whom you want to reach with the gospel. You must win a heart before you can turn it to Christ. Evangelism requires effort. Jesus described the soul-winner as a “laborer” (Mt. 9:37-38). There are no shortcuts to evangelism. Labor for lost souls. Your work will not be in vain.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Chad Yeilding says:

    This is a great point and one that is very hard for some to accept. I had no idea that you had this web-pager out here until the other day. You may or may not remember me, but I am a member at the Adamsville Church of Christ. Thanks for posting all of your messages on this site. They are refreshing and uplifting.

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