Many are passionate about evangelism but don't have a genuine plan to disciple anyone. They simply wish to see someone make a faith decision or commitment to Christ and start coming to church. It is awesome for someone to make a faith commitment and start attending a local church, but few survive and fewer thrive if we leave them there. My goal is always to plug each person into a home Bible study that is actively obeying Christ, sharing the Gospel, seeing the Spirit move, and reaching the lost. Because I have the end in sight, the way I do evangelism has greatly changed.
In addition to discipleship, what do we plan to do if the person is not ready to make a faith commitment at the end of our conversation? Do we give up and move on? What if they are a friend, neighbor, or family member? How do we continue to share Christ?
These two questions along with a long term vision have convinced me of a method, which many call "storying" and I jokingly call "Incognito Bible Study." In order to share the gospel, we often tell stories. Whether it is the redemption story of Christ's life or our personal testimony, the Good News is presented by the life of Christ. Jesus is the Good News, and Jesus is often revealed by the narrative of His life in Scripture. For many, our personal testimony or personal story of encountering Jesus, is our go to method of evangelism. We share what our lives were like before Christ, how we met Christ, and what our lives are like since meeting Him. I believe that this is a divinely ordained method (see Mark 5:18-20) that any believer can use to share the gospel, and I am convinced that nearly all of us should share our testimony more rather than less.
In correlation with this simple and natural method of sharing Christ is the method of sharing other stories from Scripture. For evangelism I often tell the story of the Sinful Woman from Luke 7:36-50. I started out by doing a Bible study on the story with believers. We read the story and asked some simple inductive Bible study questions: What does this tell us about God? What does this tell us about Jesus? What does this tell us about people? Are there any examples to follow, commands to obey, promise to claim, sins to repent of? After going through each question and talking about what the story as a whole taught us, we practiced putting the story in our own words, checking to make sure we left nothing out. We committed to telling someone who didn't know Jesus that story in the coming week (For more information on these kinds of studies check out my previous post on Discovery Bible Study and T4T). Armed with this story and a couple added questions I began to look for the opportunity to share with an unbeliever.
As a friend and I were driving home, we saw a young couple begging on the street. We pulled into a nearby gas station, bought some water and food and went over to talk with them. After giving them the water and food we found out a little about who they were and then launched in with, "I've got a story for you . . ." (actually in this case my friend said, "My friend has a story for you.") This is actually an incredibly easy and natural way to bring up Jesus. People tell stories all the time, and they never ask for permission to do so. Whether its a story about their past, their shenanigans at a bar, their family struggles, or some other anecdote it is incredibly common to tell stories and, "I've got a story for you . . ." never comes off strange or forced unless you're self-conscious about it.
I told them the story of the sinful woman as expressively as I could and they listened attentively. They were both actually interested in what I had to say because it was a narrative. They didn't know what was going to happen next. They didn't understand what I was getting at. I was using a narrative they hadn't heard before and they were discovering something about Jesus that they hadn't heard before. I asked them who they identified with the story and why (these are the questions we add for evangelism). The girl, who was obviously impressed by the story and really liked it, said that she identified with the woman because she felt judged by people. The young man said he identified with Jesus because he wanted to do the right thing and not judge other people. We continued talking about who Jesus was from the story and how sins were forgiven, it was an easy transition into the story of the cross and resurrection.
What the two of them didn't realize was that they had just participated in a Bible study. We didn't open the Bible and read it, but they heard a passage of Scripture that I put in my own words and retold. They responded to the Holy Spirit as they listened to the Word, thought about it and responded to the truth. They probably wouldn't have come to a Bible Study if I had invited them, but I didn't invite them, and they didn't know it was a Bible study. They just heard about Jesus.
I do this every single week as often as I can. Some people I tell story after story without ever opening the Bible. Some have come to faith, and I simply start opening the Bible with them and get them to tell stories to others. I encourage you to tell someone a story today and start an incognito Bible study. To learn more see the materials I linked to previously in the article and receive more inspiration and training. The world is waiting to hear about Jesus.