How to Tune out the 'Christian Noise' for Clear Evangelism
- Thursday, April 12, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Ron Martoia's new book, Static: Tune Out the “Christian Noise” and Experience the Real Message of Jesus, (Tyndale House, 2007).
When you’re trying to talk to someone about faith and your message doesn’t seem to be getting through, it may be because you’re using words that block your message like static interfering with a broadcast.
Many words used in traditional evangelism simply don’t resonate well with people in our culture anymore. But if you communicate with fresh words that both reflect biblical truth and speak well to today’s seekers, your message can be clearly heard.
Here’s how you can break through static to evangelize in ways people in today’s culture can understand well:
* Recognize the cultural baggage that some words carry. Understand that many people today either don’t understand certain language traditionally used in evangelism, or are turned off by the negative connotations those words have developed in our culture. Know that when you use words like “gospel,” “salvation,” “repentance,” and “sin,” other people may react in ways you don’t expect, based on their own experiences and emotions. Realize the importance of choosing the right words to share your faith with others. Seek to understand both the biblical meaning of a word, and its context in our culture today, before deciding if and how to use it in conversations about spirituality.
* Open your mind. Don’t assume that you already know all there is to know about words commonly used in evangelism. Ask God to help you keep learning as you study the Bible, so you can get rid of cultural assumptions and preconceived notions, and more clearly understand the rich meaning of various words. Realize that there are many creative ways to express the original meaning behind various words in fresh language.
* Get to know your audience. Realize that you need to get to know the people you’re trying to engage in spiritual conversations before you can truly reach them. Spend time asking them questions and genuinely listening. Pay attention to their ages, social status, backgrounds, experiences, and other issues that impact the cultural contexts within which they think about God. Know that when you start sharing your faith with them, you need to start with the real-life issues that are most immediate for them (instead of starting with your own agenda and theology).
* Think of the gospel as a newsflash. Know that, although the word “gospel” means “good news,” the word itself doesn’t sound like good news to people influenced by our culture to view the gospel as intolerant, arrogant, militant, and imperialistic. So instead of using the word “gospel,” speak to people about a newsflash, which conveys the urgency and importance of the good news Jesus has for them.
* Think of repentance as reorienting lives. Realize that repentance is more than what our culture presents it to be – simply a call for people to clean up their morals. Know that, instead, repentance involves people changing the direction of their whole lives to move closer to God. Understand that God is not nearly as concerned with whether or not people say a sinner’s prayer as He is with the true condition of their hearts. Acknowledge that a prayer of repentance isn’t a magic formula for salvation. Realize that God wants people to do more than utter a prayer; He wants them to reorient every part of their lives so they can become the people He intends for them to become. When talking with people about faith, rather than urging them to “repent,” encourage them to consider what would happen if their lives were headed in a new direction.
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