Paradigm Shift: The Problem With Books on Evangelism

I probably have a dozen books on how to do evangelism on the shelf. About five years ago I tried to teach a class on evangelism from some of these books and what we ended up with was a whole lot of information without much visible action or change. Some of them have hundreds of principles on hundreds of pages. We got a lot of facts, strategies and styles in people’s head but we couldn’t tell that they were doing any more outreach than when we started. Looking back I can’t help but think that was because we were teaching “About” evangelism and not actually doing it. We taught principles and how to have a conversation and what things to say or not to say or how to tell when it was time to leave someone alone but at the end of it all what it lacked was a real pairing of people who want to outreach with people who need reached out to.

I have already talked Church Steps here until I am blue in the face but what I am most thankful for is that we aren’t teaching about anymore. We are equipping and sending people. Guess what? They will figure out most of what they need on how to do it when they do it and when the process what happened. Think about this

We can spend 13 weeks filling up someone’s head with what could happen or we can send them and then
teach them through processing what they actually experienced. Which do you think
is a more effective teaching and learning strategy?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

2 Responses to Paradigm Shift: The Problem With Books on Evangelism

  1. Edward Fudge says:

    Been there, done that. I find it interesting that the N.T. has only 3 passages I can find that talk about evangelism, witnessing, personal work, outreach, or whatever we want to call it — if we exclude texts speaking about or to apostles. In other words, these are to “regular” Christians. They are: Phil. 2:12 ff, Col. 4:2-6, and I Peter 3:13 ff. Interesting to notice, all three contexts include 3 common elements: 1) we live faithful lives before the world, individually and as a fellowship, 2) the world notices and those whom God touches give an opening, 3) we are watching and praying, take advantage of the opening and speak the word about Jesus. Once heard John Stott preach on evangelism, which he summed up like this: God opens doors, we open mouths, God opens hearts.
    Maybe it’s more simple that we thought.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Edward,

      I don’t know if you have followed the posts here on the outreach we are doing at Northwest but it is ridiculously simple and very effective. It is so simple that other churches have gotten on board and it has only taken them a couple of weeks to “get it” and implement and have success. You can see the template here for what we do every Wednesday night – https://mattdabbs.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/churchstepsclasstemplate.pdf

      Template explained here – https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/wednesday-night-outreach-class-try-this-out/

      This is an attempt to regularly (weekly) engage our members in outreach. Identify the people who we need to connect with, get people in contact and relationships with them, study with non-Christians, baptize and involve people into the congregation and discipleship. We celebrate each week all the good God has done, we process through what they have experienced and we assign new responsibilities each and every week based on the people who are visiting and the people we know who we are intentionally reaching out to. There is more to it than that and you can read more about it on the page I have for this ministry here on the blog – https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/ministry-tools/church-steps-outreach-program/

      I know you have connections all over the place and if this is something you think might click with a congregation that is looking to do outreach rather than just talk about it feel free to send them my way. All the resources are free.

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