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Evangelism as an Invitation (Part 1)

Evangelism is typically viewed as something done by full-time ministers who preach a message that the evangelized person accepts and starts a process leading to baptism. It’s usually presenting a completed theological package and is a one-way street from evangelizer to the evangelized.

While that approach has its place, I’d like to suggest that a different model is needed today. What if we viewed evangelism as an invitation? Not an invitation to hear a proclamation but an invitation to a shared faith journey.

The woman at the well in John 4 gives us the model for this approach. She has a life-transforming experience with God and then has no choice but to share it with the community. She doesn’t have it all figured out but actually asks the question, “Can this be the Messiah?” In this way she invites people to engage in discussion and discovery together. It’s not based on a neat theological package she has developed with all the answers but a reliance on the Holy Spirit to unfold truth in the context of a community seeking for God.

If we look at Jesus’ method of teaching, he too used this invitational model more than anything else. In his teaching he often made provocative statements that begged questions and further discovery. He also spoke in parables which often had cryptic messages that could only be understood after intense study and interaction with the stories.

I believe this approach is more appropriate not just because it will “work” better today but actually is more true to the Christian calling and experience than the proclamation method. More on that in a future post. . .


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