Theology and Practice of Evangelism
An in-depth look at the issues of evangelism.
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About this Class
Dr. Tuttle teaches three critical points around evangelism: how to share your faith story, what evangelism is and how to approach it, and that God has more invested in evangelism than we do – He is in control. God is at work. He wants us to, "show up and pay attention [to the Spirit]," and to care about people enough to "press" them by asking probing questions about what they think and what's going on in their lives.
Evangelism is essentially about the core of the Gospel, ministering in your sphere of influence and sustaining those you reach.
In order to share the Gospel, you must know what it meant, and how people are understanding what you are saying. The gospel core is the least you can believe and still be a Christian. If the least you can believe is sufficient to get you saved, then the least you can believe is the most you can require of anyone.
Christianity is the only world religion with an understanding of grace. Your most important ministry will be helping people understand how much God loves them. The heart of the gospel is that God loves you. Sin happens when we attempt to live as if there is no God. God, since the fall has done everything he can to establish relationship. God wants to make himself known to you in a way that you can understand.
At the Fall, Satan gained control of the world. Jesus takes it back in Revelation 5 because he meets the qualifications. The core elements of the sermons of the apostles are authoritative proofs, prophecies fulfilled, God’s activities described, apostolic eyewitnesses and miracles proclaimed. You will be heard with authority to the degree you are willing to put your life on the line. You die spiritually when you rationalize sin. Wind moves from high pressure to low pressure. We access the power of the Spirit by repenting and believing. Two sins mentioned throughout scripture are self-reliance and oppressing the poor.
God is faithful and wants us to live in relationship with him.
Many people are not knowledgeable about the content of the Bible. People have misconceptions of God because of us. The scriptures suggest that there was a corpus of belief taught by Jesus and the apostles that is essential for salvation. If you reduced the words of Jesus to one sentence, it would be, “whoever is willing to give up their life for my sake, will gain it, because the only way to be great is to be a servant, and the only way to be first is to be last.” You should only preach it if it works.
Each of us has a sphere of influence in which only we can witness most effectively. “Please, God, make me aware of my opportunities for ministry.” Case study about what a pastor should say to a person he knows who is critically ill in a hospital.
Discussion of case study 1. Recorded the interaction with Dr. Tuttle after the groups had discussed the situation separately.
If you understand the core of the Gospel, you can be consistent with it and flexible with everything else. People are hesitant to do ministry because they lack motivation, fear rejection and assume inadequacy. I Cor. 12, the church is indispensable for your survival, and you are indispensible for the church to be the body that God has called her to be. When someone falls in sin, it’s an opportunity for reconciliation. 90% of evangelism is showing up and paying attention.
You can assume that people are, "H.A.L.T. " – Hurting, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Ministry is 24 times more rejection than affirmation and every rejection is important. We must have utter dependence on God and realize that doing ministry is hopeless if we are trying to do it under our own steam. Get on your knees and beg God to help you. Preach the text and let the text itself provide the outline. Our greatest strengths are anointed weaknesses. Most of the work of the kingdom is done one-on-one. That’s why you want people in close community. A Christian is someone who commits all they know about themselves to all they know of God. Wesley said, “Leading a person to Christ without providing ample opportunity for growth and nurture is to beget children for the murderer.”
The key to evangelism is making the transition between peoples’ needs and God’s answers. God calls us to be attentive to people in our sphere of influence and he is responsible for the results. We learn how to love and forgive. We practice love and forgiveness as we have been loved and forgiven. Unity does not imply uniformity, but diversity. Part of the class time was spent by the students discussing case studies in small groups.
This lecture begins as Dr. Tuttle is relating a story about a lady he met on an airplane. Jesus chose people as disciples that he could demonstrate by showing and telling them, and then depend on them to reproduce what they had been shown and taught. When Jesus gets too close, we raise the religious question to change the subject. As a result of the sin in the garden, we lost our ability to perceive reality beyond the senses. The Holy Spirit came, not to compensate for the absence of Jesus, but to guarantee his presence. We hold the truth, but the world sets the agenda and has the right to ask its own questions.
Often, it is implied that once you commit your life to Christ, all your problems are solved. The Hebrew concept of soul is body, mind and spirit. The Greek concept is that soul and body are separate, and that soul is good and body is evil. Prophecy and spiritual gifts are essential for the body of Christ to function. In the teaching in mainline churches, there is sometimes a disconnect between faith and life.
Jesus sent the Spirit, not to compensate for his absence but to guarantee his presence. God closes doors as well as opens them. The Spirit goes ahead of us and does the work. We just need to show up and be obedient by being faithful and speaking the word.
God closes doors as well as opens them. The Spirit goes ahead of us and does the work. We just need to show up and be obedient by being faithful and speaking the word. Most people don’t interpret their needs as spiritual. Prevenient grace refers to the work of the Spirit in your life between conception and conversion. Wesley talked about “grace” rather than “the Spirit” so he wouldn’t be labeled an “enthusiast.”
A lot of ministry is, “tell me more,” “what did you mean by that?” Justification is turning from sin, new birth is turning toward righteousness. Do you believe it, do you anticipate it and do you expect it? Do you believe the spirit of God has more invested in your ministry than you do? Interpersonal evangelism is where you get to the point that you rely on the Spirit and don’t look for signs, but assume the Spirit is at work. Paraklete in secular literature is the one who stands next to the one going into battle that says, “sic-em!”
Eunuchs have a servant mentality. Acts 8, Ethiopian eunuch. Five stages in classical mysticism are moral and spiritual awakening, purgation, illumination, dark night of the soul and union with God. Follow up through relationship makes the sphere of influence important. Most of life is subtle. If you know how to pay attention, there is power in subtlety.
There are transcultural common denominators, concepts and ideologies that communicate with equal effectiveness in every culture, not just cross culturally. Evangelism isn’t anything until it’s action, something starts to move. Wesley’s strategy was identify the neediest people and meet them at the point of their greatest need. The evangelism question is not, “what do I do?” but, “what’s going on?”: Paying attention to what’s going on in the life of the person, paying attention to the environment in which they exist and paying attention to God.
George Callendine continues by asking the question, "What’s going on with my relationship to God, the environment and this person?" We are trying to understand human actions so we can act as Christians and mobilize our lives to touch others. Vision is your idea of the future and mission is what you are doing everyday to get to your vision. The diagnostic wheel to which Mr. Callendine refers is not available at this time. We hope to make it available in the future.