Alternatives to Sharing the Four Spiritual Laws in Evangelism

I am not totally anti-four spiritual laws (although I prefer to call them, “spiritual truths”), especially if they include a call to repentance (and not just “belief” in God—Mark 1:15). Nevertheless, I am among those who wonder if there is perhaps a better way to approach evangelism than starting with “you’re a sinner” (that sure is “good news!” isn’t it :)). What might be some other approaches to evangelism?

 

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1. Invite a friend to talk with God (just wherever you are or perhaps invite them to Church). Basically, if salvation includes a relationship with God, then why not introduce people to God, instead of just teaching people concepts about God. I have blogged about the idea here.

2. Related to the above, help a person find how God has already been at work in or around them. Ask them a question like, do you think God has ever spoken to you? How do you see God in the world?

3. Pray with people. God will work in their life and they will see it.

4. Ask people about what matters to them. What do they crave in life (love, a sense of value, adventure, etc.)? And then consider how God might be the answer to those existential needs. From the documentary “Crave” (view it here, if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, check it out at the 17:40 mark), I gather this is the idea behind Erin McManus’s book Soul Cravings. Some philosophers are also moving in the direction of considering existential reasons for belief in God rather than only rational arguments.

5. Tell somebody about Jesus. I don’t mean tell them the “spiritual laws.” I just mean, tell them about Jesus. Who is he? What did he do in life? What did he teach? It is interesting that the four “Gospels” (meaning, good news!) talk a lot about Jesus, not just about his death! Scot McKnight has blogged on this idea.

6. Tell how God changed your life. What difference has Jesus made for you? Isn’t that good news? (That is, gospel.) The 4 Gospels in the Bible were once titled, “The Gospel According to Luke” (John, Matthew, etc.). And the stories in these 4 Gospels include many stories about how Jesus made a difference in people’s lives (e.g. John 9:25). If Jesus makes a difference in your life, that is your “Gospel”: call it the “Gospel According to Andrew.”

I don’t know about you, but I think in most situations I’d be more comfortable with one of the above approaches to evangelism than starting with, “you’re a sinner,” or even, “do you know where you would go if you died tonight?” And the above approaches definitely fit better with the “relationship evangelism” that many people talk about, which is less a shot-gut approach to evangelism and more so an approach to evangelism that takes place over time. I don’t think the above approaches are a cop-out. Rather, they are about sharing the Gospel, which is the very essence of evangelism (“evangelism” comes from the Greek euangelizomai, meaning, “I proclaim” and related to the Greek euangelium, meaning, “good news”).

Question: What are some other  ways to evangelize other than through sharing the four spiritual laws?

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4 thoughts on “Alternatives to Sharing the Four Spiritual Laws in Evangelism

  1. Very nice, Andrew.

    If God is ultimately a relational being, making our approach to evangelism ‘relational’ makes perfect sense. Simply recounting propositional information, however true, reflects a mechanistic approach that is more in line with building a legal case than welcoming someone into a relationship with God and the church.

    I recommend that readers also reference the link you highlighted above to Scot McKnight’s blog. He, along with N.T. Wright, have emphasized this theme in book length form. McKnight’s latest book, ‘The King Jesus Gospel’ does a great job of outlining this idea.

    For those interested, I reviewed the book on my blog — http://jeffkclarke.com/2011/10/11/book-review-the-king-jesus-gospel-by-scot-mcknight/

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    I really appreciate this. I’ve always thought that we ought to be inviting people to follow Jesus – to join us in the journey – and that altar calls, for instance, are an invitation not just for salvation but an opportunity to begin saying “Yes” to God. And then belief would be the next logical step.

    I have a real hard time with programs like “The Way of the Master” and others since they are at their very nature so confrontational and demand an answer in that moment. Jesus, upon meeting the first disciples, began the conversation with a demonstration of what was possible, of what could be. He showed them who he was and filled their nets and, without any prodding, Peter became aware of his own sin and without any hesitation he walked away from his life and to follow and explore and dream about what could be.

    To share Jesus with someone, as you said, is not just to talk about his death. It’s about life and knowing what life is all about.

    • Regarding Jesus and the disciples (and the accompanying idea that they “just up and left to follow him when he called them”), we don’t know for sure that the disciples hadn’t previously met Jesus, and it seems that Jesus had already been ministering for a while (e.g. Luke 4 before the calling of the disciples in Luke 5) before he called the disciples, so there is a good chance that they had at least already heard about Jesus before he called them.

  3. Great thoughts, Andrew, thanks.

    Another idea is to consider what problem the various atonement theories attempt to address. Most tracts (like the 4 spir. laws) tend to assume the penal theory (or at least a satisfaction theory). The the spectrum of atonement views speaks of the great breadth and depth of our need for God. Many of them don’t start with “you’re a sinner” in the sense of a guilty law breaker. While the latter is true, it is not the only truth about our condition. And it doesn’t seem to be what the early church (not to mention the 4 gospels) focused on.

    blessings friend!