24 Nov, 2010 The need for pre-evangelism, Part I.
One of the core values of this ministry is a recognition of the need for pre-evangelism. The next two blogs are going to be on this. In the first I here insert a summary of a brief article by Dr. David Geisler on the topic.
Pre-Evangelism in the New Millennium
By Dr. David Geisler, President, Meekness and Truth Ministries Inc.
What is it?
If evangelism is planting seeds of the gospel, pre-evangelism is tilling the soil that the seeds will be planted in (1 Cor. 3:6).
Why is it needed?
In the world we live in today, pre-evangelism is important for Christians to learn about because the ground of people’s hearts and minds may not be fertile enough for the seeds of the gospel.
Three specific reason why training in pre-evangelism is needed today!
1. Old evangelism paradigms are insufficient
One of my former students said, “As a Campus Crusade staff, I am trained in using the four spiritual laws and some apologetic skills, but I have problems trying to integrate them during evangelism. When people indicate that they were not interested, I could only ask them for the reason and then invite them for an evangelistic bible study or share my personal testimony. This (pre-evangelism) model helps me to go further by asking questions, identifying the barrier, and finding common ground in my conversations with non-believers.”
– Former student at East Asia School of Theology
2. Our changing world
The world we live in today can be characterized by a rejection of moral absolutes, a deep religious skepticism, and an indifference or outright rejection of objective truth, hence creating problems for us in the area of evangelism.
Cultural anthropologist Gene Veith points out that “It is hard to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to people who believe that, since morality is relative, they have no sins to forgive.”
An increasing number of non-Christians may even perceive our message as irrelevant, or at the very least no better than any other perspective. As a result, this makes our task in doing evangelism more difficult than ever before.
3. The world’s perspective on those who believe in absolute truth
Not only do we live in a world characterized by a rejection of moral absolutes, a deep religious skepticism, and an indifference or outright rejection of objective truth, but there is also actually a hostility towards those of us who claim to know the truth! For us to claim that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life sounds arrogant and intolerant. As a result Christians are finding greater obstacles to proclaiming a simple gospel message. The nature of what we are claiming about Christ is clashing with our changing culture!
It is possible for us to understand the times in which we live (1 Chronicles 12:32). Doing so, we can respond by giving increasing attention to pre-evangelism. In so doing we may find increasing effectiveness in our witnessing to others.
(Dave Mann again) I put it to you that effectiveness in evangelism is still possible in our post-modern and post-Christian societies of today. It is our approach that needs to change – and there are forerunners, like Dr. David, who can greatly help us in this. Even in the area of ‘street evangelism’, which is scary to many because of the increasing resistance to this method in past decades, there are those who are finding renewed effectiveness as they adapt their methods and materials to todays way of thinking.
The real issue, therefore, in my view, is of love in our hearts (or, more specifically, of the lack of it). While we may need to learn new things to be effective, we will only be motivated to actually do so if we first actually care about those without Christ.
In the next blog I will write my own simple reflections on the need for pre-evangelism. The matter of caring for the lost will be covered at another time.
I recommend David Geisler’s website to you – www.meeknessandtruth.org
– The approach is summarised as ‘Conversational Evangelism’.
– See below for a couple of well known peoples recommendations on this also.
I strongly believe in the value of what his ministry is communicating to the wider Church, but also believe that restoring an increased passion for the gospel and love for the lost in God’s Church is the greatest challenge! Great trainings and resources are available – its just that many are unwilling to give time to learning! Pastors – could you lead the way?
Fyi only, a couple of recommendations for Dr. David Geisler’s approach
“The Conversational Evangelism approach is one of the few transferable methodologies I’ve seen that seeks to integrate Christian evidence into one’s daily witness to more effectively reach the hearts and minds of skeptics, pluralists, and postmodernists of this current age. I believe that every church would benefit by integrating the concepts of Conversational Evangelism into their existing evangelistic programs and strategies!” Josh McDowell
“David Geisler’s Conversational Evangelism model is a winsome and effective presentation of how skeptics perceive the Gospel and how we might help them discover its truth for themselves. While recognizing the vital role of the Holy Spirit in the process, he illustrates how asking probing questions and pointing out the inconsistencies between belief and behavior till the ground—and is often the pre-evangelism necessary—to help remove long-entrenched barriers to the Gospel. I enthusiastically recommend David’s pre-evangelism methodology and his work through Meekness and Truth Ministries.” Ravi Zacharias