Evangelism in a Changing World: Sharing God's Love with Others
By Bryan Tener
In the last few articles, we have examined aspects of evangelism that can help us navigate the changing cultural landscape. This journey began with reflecting on our spiritual lives, asking questions of ourselves about our discipleship, and then discovering our God-gifted purpose. Then we moved toward living out that purpose in those “third places” in which we find ourselves and where people gather. Restaurants, gyms, dog parks, and even high school sporting events offer the opportunity to begin making room for new relationships. Whether it’s starting something new through a hobby or a passion, “third places” offer space where we can offer consistent presence, actively listen, and discover gifts, while seeking to live out our purpose. All this works to build trust. In part three, we looked at listening through a posture of humility, while offering an empathetic, accepting, and respectful presence, and of course, love. Active listening while using tools such as open-ended questions and phrases (“Tell me more about…” or “Can you help me understand what you’re going through?”) can help people feel heard and can help us listen more deeply. Through intentional listening, there is an opportunity for people to experience God’s grace. We also experience that grace.
As we enter into “third places,” connect with people, and practice active listening, we must be prepared to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Relational evangelism (which we have talked about throughout the series) encourages us to share God’s love and its power to transform. It’s not always easy to talk about what God is doing in our lives; it’s not always comfortable. We may feel pressured to say the right thing or have all the answers. In the noise and busyness of our day, we find ourselves rushing without taking the time to reflect on where God is or has been at work in our lives.
There are a few practices that can help us be prepared to share what God is up to within us. One practice that I find helpful is journaling. At the beginning of the day, I can usually be found on a walk, where I listen to a daily devotional podcast for scripture reading and meditative prayer. Afterward, I turn to my journal and take note of a few things that caught my attention. At the end of the day, I try to return to my journal to make a few notes, using a few questions to guide me. This end-of-day reflection is new for me, and I am still working to develop consistency in this new habit, but I’ve found that when I am able to do so, I take more notice of where I felt God’s presence, and I am moved to be more aware going forward. These daily reflections can become points to turn to when we find opportunities to share the good news. As you think about your day-to-day life, where might God be at work, drawing you closer to love as Jesus does? Are you growing in your patience with others or in humility? Are there ways in which God’s grace is sustaining you, growing you to wholeness, or transforming you to be more fully who God has created you to be? All these can shape how you speak about God’s work and the difference in your life as a result of following Jesus.
Are there ways in which God’s grace is sustaining you, growing you to wholeness, or transforming you to be more fully who God has created you to be?
Another practice that can be helpful is drawing a timeline of your spiritual journey. I remember the first time that I was invited to do this. It was in my sixth-grade confirmation class. I’ve actually drawn this out a few times since, making note of key highlights and lowlights, those times I felt close to God, and times where I felt God was distant, and also paying attention to what closed that distance. We may not always draw out this timeline physically on paper, but we may draw this out in our minds quite a bit. If we’re experiencing a challenging season or having a difficult time, whether it’s a sense of isolation, an illness, relationship issues, or something else, we may look back and think of when we were going through something just as challenging and recall how God worked to help sustain us. Then we recognize the strength, knowledge, perseverance, trust, or whatever we gained in overcoming the obstacles—with God alongside us. This too shapes how we speak of the good news with others. Are there connections between the stories of those to whom you are listening with your own story of God’s grace at work?
Another practice that can be helpful in preparing to share the good news is inviting those in your Sunday school classes, small groups, and faith community to write a paragraph about what God is doing in their lives. Then share their testimonies in the church newsletter and/or social media. Invite people to record their testimonies on their phones to share on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. This becomes a way for the whole community of faith to spread the good news. Inviting the faith community into this process lifts up the importance of faith sharing and helps the congregation be more intentional about looking for where God is at work in the day-to-day. This process helps evangelism and faith sharing be seen as discipleship rather than a task for the pastor or church leadership.
Knowing what makes following Jesus meaningful and the connections to God’s good news are important aspects of discipleship. Discovering purpose, finding those “third places,” and actively listening are great to do, but unless we connect those activities with sharing the good news, they become wasted opportunities for allowing God to work through us. If we’re intent on creating relationships founded in God’s love, we must share the good news and invite others. Because God loves us and God loves the ones to whom we are sent, we must make that love known. Loving God and loving neighbor is a journey, and so is the work of relational evangelism. It is a constant return to reflect on purpose and identity. It is a movement out of reflection to where others gather. It is placing ourselves where connections can be made and where intentional listening can take place. It is being prepared to share how God is at work in our own lives and the world around us. It is an offering of grace that leads to wholeness and becoming truly human, not only as individuals but as whole communities. Relational evangelism offers the opportunity to live lives that are shaped by God’s transforming love and to share that love with others.
Questions for Reflection:
- In what ways do you experience God’s presence daily?
- When have you felt near to God and when has it seemed that God was distant? What or through whom was that distance shortened?
- Why is following Jesus meaningful for you? What difference has it made in your life and in the lives of those around you?
- Write a short summary of what the good news of Jesus looks like in light of your answers to the first three questions.
- Where and to whom is God sending you to share this good news?