Finally, for this series, what should be our “person to person” method of evangelism under this new rubric I have proposed?
My private model takes for granted that the public model, described in the last entry, is in effect, so it isn’t something you can go out and do on your own right now. In essence, if we have enough public events going on, there will be, inevitably, a corresponding increase in questions to us from non-believers, and many more opportunities for us to start conversations (eg, “Did you see that show last night where Witherington debated Zindler? It was a massacre!”). That’s enough to get encounters started.
After that, there’s going to be a burden on us, since obviously, we’re not all equipped to answer any possible questions. We’ll need to assemble some sort of resource index, so that, for example, if someone asks us a question or raises some objection concerning the cosmological argument, and we’re not that good on that topic, we know who to go to who IS good with it.
So in one sense, my private model isn’t a lot different than the one we now have; it just starts from a different base, and requires a little more work on our part – which, given Matthew 28:18-20, is something we’d best not be shying away from. Making disciples of all nations isn’t done from your living room couch, after all.
Which raises another point, one somewhat beyond the scope of this series, but which deserves notice: Our current evangelistic methods are pretty poor when it comes to follow-up. When it comes to one prominent evangelist, once you walk the aisle you’re told to “find a good church home.” That’s a hard task these days anyway, but what kind of follow-up is that? None at all. There will need to be better connections made between conversion and discipleship as well – which will be a lot easier when evangelism relies on historic fact rather than “personal testimony,” since under my proposed system, discipleship has already started in the process of evangelism.
Now for a couple of final thoughts.
I am obviously not saying that personal testimony never “works” at converting people, for it has. But I do say that it is ultimately not the best way to evangelize, and in the long run, does more harm than good.
I also want to credit a few more good shows in the vein of what we need more of: The John Ankerberg Show, the Bible Answer Man, and David Barton’s material on America’s Christian Heritage. But that’s just a drop in a bucket that badly needs to be filled.