David Hoffman: Spontaneous Evangelism vs. Relational Evangelism

In modern American Christianity, one of the greatest needs that is facing the American Church is the need to reach the lost and bring the Gospel to those who will never enter a church building. The Great Commission is a commission to “go into the world.” Many different statistics done by people like George Barna and organizations like LifeWay, show that evangelism (the practice of Christians sharing the Gospel with non-Christians) in the United States is moving towards a rapid decline. They also reveal that the majority of America will be unchurched in the coming decades if the trends continue.

There are many different perspectives and strategies for evangelism, however, I am going to discuss one of the biggest issues that is keeping the American Church from being able to properly affect those who are outside of the Church.

I would argue that there are two prominent camps concerning evangelism in the church today. One camp promotes “Spontaneous Evangelism” and the other camp promotes “Relational Evangelism.” Sadly, they are often pitted against one another.

Spontaneous Evangelism can be defined as evangelistic encounters with random people. Some examples include the following: a person you share the Gospel with at a grocery store, someone you give a Gospel tract to, a person you strike up conversation with in a waiting room with the purpose of sharing with them about Christ, etc. Usually, Spontaneous Evangelism is done with people you will very likely never see again. It places the emphasis on getting to the heart of the Gospel message as quickly as possible with the person in front of you. However, it places little emphasis on building relationships and following up with people.

Relational Evangelism is completely different. It is done with people that you know and see on a consistent basis. Some examples include, co-workers, extended family, neighbors, people from the gym, etc. Relational evangelism places the emphasis on building relationships before engaging with someone concerning the content of the Gospel. Over time, the Gospel message may be brought up as the relationship grows. The end goal of this type of evangelism is helping a person gain a relationship with Christ over time through long-term relationship.

Both are good strategies, but both are incomplete on their own. Sadly, many Christians feel they must choose one or the other. It is a major failure of modern American Christianity that the two are pitted against each other, Each side needs what the other one has, and the most effective evangelism can only be done when the strengths from both sides are incorporated.

When we look at the ministry of Jesus, He perfectly balanced both. He made disciples over a long period of time, but He also had spontaneous encounters with people like the “woman at the well,” Zacchaeus, and those whom He healed and delivered throughout his ministry. In each type of encounter, lives were totally transformed by His love and truth. In the same way, God wants us to allow the Holy Spirit to use us spontaneously and relationally so that He can totally transform the lives of those we minister to with His love and truth.

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Source: Christian Post