The Personal Evangelism Process (Article) - Rad Zdero | Prayer | Evangelism

The Personal Evangelism Process

Rad Zdero

The Personal Evangelism Process
Rad Zdero Rad Zdero earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in bio-mechanics and bio-materials. He is the director of a hospital-based research group in Toronto. Rad has been involved in the house church and small group movement since 1985. He is the author of The Global House Church Movement (2004) and the allegorical novel Entopia: Revolution of the Ants (2008). He is also the editor of Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader (2007) and The Starfish Files: Canada’s House Church Magazine. He can be reached at rzdero@yahoo.ca and www.housechurch.ca

WHY THIS ARTICLE?
The purpose of the present article is to focus on what is often referred to as "friendship" or "lifestyle" evangelism, the process of communicating the gospel to the unsaved with whom we are in regular contact in our sphere of activity or influence (e.g. friends, family, classmates, co-workers, etc.).

not only a three year exploration of the Bible together but also a friendship, opening ourselves up for the best and the worst in each other. He and I spent our years literally together. We would study together, eat, hang out, talk at length. Eventually, another believer named Mike, Kevin and myself, began to meet for two to three hours Friday afternoons in the cafeteria after classes to explore Scripture. A Time for Growth This grew to a group of five mechanical engineering classmates (three believers and two seekers) getting together weekly for several hours discussing Christ. We're all still in contact to some degree. Kevin, one of the most thoughtful and honest people I've ever met, had stated that the only thing that kept him from committing to Christ was the "other religions" issue. Eventually, Kevin became very cynical about things, always a sarcastic tone in his voice. Mike and I still commiserate, and pray, continually asking ourselves "what happened with Kevin?" We think that God became very real to him, the Spirit continually drawing him closer, a very uncomfortable proposition for him. Zooming-in On My Context During my Master's degree, I felt pulled to be with my non-Christian classmates and fellow researchers. So, I eventually started a Scripture

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
The Glory Years Among the many interactions I have had over the years with non-Christian friends, some of the most memorable occurred during my university years. During the many years of my studies for my Bachelor’s (1987-1991), Master’s (1991-1993), and Doctor’s (1993-1999) degrees, I made deliberate efforts to make my university experience one of making marvelous memories. My university career (and my current academic research environment) has yielded many good friendships with non-believers, many of whom were willing to look into the Scriptures with me on a regular basis over the years. Making Contact with Non-Believers In the second, third, and fourth years of my Bachelor’s degree, I really connected with a friend of mine, Kevin, a non-Christian. A comment I made once interested him and that started us on

-1-

The Personal Evangelism Process

Rad Zdero

study with three foreign grad student nonbelievers/seekers (two from mainland China and one from India), meeting weekly with them for that. These fellows and I shared the same supervising professor (three of us having overlapping research projects), were hanging out together, sleeping over, helping each other in residential moves, eating donuts together at 3 a.m., building good friendships. We certainly did see each other's best and worst. Later, another graduate student from the department, who was for a long time very suspicious of my invitations to join our study, did indeed do so. We spent the next year, along with two other undergraduate engineering Christian students, discussing Scripture, other religions, creation/evolution, validity of the Scriptures, existence of God, etc. Doctor in the House When I started my doctoral studies, I intentionally moved into a student house, hoping to live with non-Christian housemates. I lived with a devout Roman Catholic student, a nominally Buddhist Vietnamese student, and several undergraduate and doctoral students from mainland China. As we developed our friendships, we would have all types of conversations. I tried to naturally steer the conversation towards more personal and spiritual matters. Because of the trust that was developed between us over time as we lived our lives together in practical ways, this was not particularly difficult. And several of us began to study the Bible together eventually. Fun times! My job was to sow a spiritual seed. One or two other housemates that I didn’t study the Bible with, I made sure to pass on a Bible as a gift at some point in our relationship, believing that at the right time in the future, God would draw them to his Word. It was a real privilege to call these people my genuine friends in that season of our lives. The ultimate results I left to the Lord.

PRINCIPLES IN THE PROCESS
#1. General Approach: I believe our general approach can be one of inviting people into our lives, allowing them to see Christ at work in us. The fullest and richest way we can evangelize is by a combination of deliberate and explicit verbalization of the gospel and the outworkings of our faith in our lives in practical ways to touch those around us. This will allow nonbelievers/seekers the eventual opportunity to discuss faith issues and search the Scriptures with us in the context of real friendship. #2. Finding Your Focus: We all have several roles we play in life and various spheres we spend time in; friend, neighbour, co-worker, classmate, etc. To be strategic, we may deliberately choose the "mission field" we focus on by the amount of time we spend in that particular field/role or the amount of credibility we have in it. If we spend most of our time at work or in school, we can choose to develop those relationships and, in that context, communicate the Gospel. If we find we spend most of our time at home and in the community, we may choose to make friends with our neighbours, the store clerk, our landlord, etc., and take initiatives in that direction. #3. Becoming Part of the Network: It's always important, once we identify our focus, to become a vital and active part of that network. For example, if we're students, let's study with our classmates, be involved with them in doing assignments, preparing for tests, taking study breaks and going to the formals. This will give us the opportunity to develop the relational context to spread the Word naturally in a non-threatening way. Once we establish ourselves, we will earn respect from our peers in that network, giving our words and initiatives credence when it comes to our faith. #4. Getting Acquainted: It's important to be able to extend conversational feelers, asking good

-2-

The Personal Evangelism Process

Rad Zdero

questions of our friends, learning how to bring around a conversation from the news, politics, sports, social items, philosophy, to issues of faith, trust and meaning. See where they are in their lives. Are they searching? Struggling? Asking questions? What is important to them? #5. Becoming Friends: It is important to truly relate to people in your chosen sphere, getting to know them better and opening up your life to them in turn. We are people and not projects. If we are genuine and trustworthy, we will in turn receive the same. Relationships are sometimes costly and risky, but we can make something of them that pleases God and is enjoyable for ourselves. I believe that I have had both the duty and privilege of sharing the gospel with those to whom I have found myself chained. #6. Hospitality: Opening our homes to others communicates the value we place on them and their presence. Let's offer people rides, invite them to dinner, bring them some freshly baked cookies, have a sleep over, allow them into our family, etc. Also, let us in turn receive the hospitality of our seeker friends gratefully, allowing them the opportunity to value us. #7. Quantity Time: Although infrequent but regular intense bonding time ("quality time") is of value, I have come to believe that it is rather the regular, day-in day-out relating with people ("quantity time") that is just as important, if not more so, in building deep friendships. Any real growth between people occurs when we are able to see the best, the worst and the mundane in each other. Jesus certainly spent quantity time with the 12; eating, sleeping, being sick, playing, cooking, fishing, walking, resting, getting frustrated, etc. #8. Guiding Friends through the Scriptures: Eventually some of our friends may look into the Scriptures with us, either by their or our initiative. During this process, we are not to tell them what to

believe, but allow them the privilege of discovering God's truths for themselves. Guide them, ask questions, discuss, share ideas, genuinely seek the truth together. Also, let's not feel that we have to have all the answers. Jim Petersen's (1989) book Living Proof has a chapter on this area. #9. Our Christian Network: We are not called by God to be lone Christians, but are to be part of a community of believers. Let us expose our seeking friends to our community so that they can learn about, learn from and experience, to some degree, Christ's body. This can be powerful and beneficial, but let's be sensitive to those who've had bad experiences in "the church". #10. Throwing away your Pearls: Some of our friends, unfortunately, may stop seeking after truth and become seekers of debate and argumentation (We must be careful about this). Some may even stop or grow cold towards dialoguing about faith issues. If so, we may need to re-evaluate whether our efforts to communicate the good news (by words) should be stalled for some time or perhaps, in extreme cases, stopped altogether and redirected to others who are more open. This does not mean we should cut-off a friendship because of lack of openness on their part. But, in terms of discussing faith, we are not to glibly throw away our pearls. They may become more open in the future. #11. Being Sensitive: The people in our sphere of activity may be of non-Christian faiths, or may have had bad experiences with Christians, or may have been psychologically and physically abused by various religious or non-religious people. Trusting people will be an issue in the latter cases. Let's be sensitive, not pushy, arrogant, judgmental, or impatient. Tread surely with the message, but do it carefully! #12. Others in the Gap: If there is a separation geographically between us and our friend(s) due to

-3-

The Personal Evangelism Process

Rad Zdero

a move, let us remember that God is still at work in that person's life and can bring someone else in to fill that gap. This can happen "accidentally" or as a result of having previously built our seeker friends into our Christian community network. In fact, we ourselves may be filling the gap for another. #13. Conversion & Discipleship: If our friend is drawn by the Spirit to faith in and commitment to Christ, then we must realize it is our duty and privilege to establish them in their young faith. We can do this either by mentoring them ourselves and/or encouraging them to take affirmative steps in growth by becoming more rooted in a believing community. Let's not push. Let's be patient as God is patient with us. But, let's not be afraid to challenge them to grow. There's a balance. #14. Relying on God: Pray, Pray, Pray! No amount of effective rational argumentation or love or emotional pleas or testimonies can bring someone into the Kingdom. These are only a gardener's tools for sowing seeds, watering, pruning, weeding, and nurturing the soil. God uses us for this task. However, it is God that causes the actual growth. One of the most important things we can do is pray that God reveals himself to the unsaved individual. The genuine conversion experience is a combination of revelation of God to the individual and the individual's response to that revelation. #15. Common Mistakes: Some common mistakes that people sometime make, including myself, are to depend too much on ourselves to see results happen. Spiritual birth, however, is not something that can be “engineered” artificially. Also, my tendency has been to be a little too “rationalistic” in my approach, not recognizing that there were probably battles going on in the spiritual realm of

which I was unaware for the souls of my friends. That’s where prayer and fasting need to come into play. Despite our mistakes, God is compassionate and helps us as we learn to be faithful to him.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Because God has loved us, let us in turn be living proof of the good news to those which we have been called, inviting people into our lives as we seek to live out our relationship with Christ. Having the desire to abandon ourselves to Jesus, let us become sober-minded about our past and our present and hopeful about our future, for we indeed have reason to hope, thereby becoming evidence to those to whom we are chained of the existence and goodness of God. This is a difficult yet exciting way of relating the good news, both overwhelming in its responsibility and scope and yet deeply satisfying in its outworkings.

REFERENCES
Michael Green (1995), One to One: How to Share your faith with a Friend, Random House. Michael Green and Alistair McGrath (1995), How Shall We Reach Them? Thomas Nelson. Jim Petersen (1989), Living Proof: Sharing the Gospel Naturally, NavPress. R.M. Pippert (1979), Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World, InterVarsity Press. Rad Zdero (2004), The Global House Church Movement, William Carey Library Publishers, 155 pages (Best price at www.missionbooks.org) Rad Zdero (ed.) (2007), Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader, William Carey Library Publishers, 528 pages (Best price at www.missionbooks.org)

SEE RAD ZDERO BOOKS ON NEXT PAGE …

-4-

REVOLUTIONARY BOOKS
by RAD ZDERO

The Global House Church Movement Rad Zdero gives you biblical, historical, and practical insights for a radical new type of church that is arising all around the world. This book is guaranteed to challenge your understanding of what the church is really meant to be and do! Perfect as a study guide to kickstart a new house church! (paperback, 155 pages) Best price from … www.missionbooks.org

Nexus: The World House Church Movement Reader As the editor of this volume, Rad Zdero has compiled the writings of almost 40 house church leaders and scholars from 20 countries in over 60 provocative articles. Get trained to start your own network of missional house churches no matter where you live! (paperback, 528 pages) Best price from … www.missionbooks.org

Entopia: Revolution of the Ants An allegorical tale written in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia chronicles and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. An adventure of grassroots revolution in the hierarchical and ordered world of an anthill. The system must change! Although just a fable, it has challenges for the church to grapple with. Fun for kids of all ages! (paperback, illustrated, 132 pages) Best price from …
www.oaktara.com www.amazon.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RAD ZDERO earned his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University (Kingston, Canada), specializing in bio-mechanics and bio-materials. He is the director of a hospital-based research lab in Toronto, Canada. Rad has been actively involved in the house church and small group movement since 1985 and is dedicated to encouraging the full restoration of original New Testament Christianity in our day.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful