The Pros and Cons of Lifestyle Evangelism
© RevivalSermon.org 2014
Advantages of Lifestyle Evangelism
No doubt about it, staying connected with lost people is
an advantage when it comes to opening up witnessing
opportunities. Here are some of the advantages to lifestyle
1. Dialogue - If the gospel is presented unashamedly, the lost person has access to a Christian for further discussion. It’s a good approach for those who have already heard the gospel many times but need an opportunity to ask questions; make challenges.
2. Authenticity - Lifestyle evangelism validates a believer from a false hypocrite. Here, the “right to be heard” is strongest. The problem most people have with Christianity is not with genuine Christianity, but with false Christianity.
3. Trust - The believer has the opportunity to earn credibility and trust from the lost person. If the believer prepares him/herself beforehand, they can exude confidence, wisdom and knowhow thus giving the unbeliever more confidence about things they cannot verify (e.g., personal experience).
4. Depth - Makes the gospel more than just a set of propositional statements. Rather it shows how a believer demonstrates trust in God. The unbeliever can actually see the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self control.
5. Awareness - Respects a lost person’s stage in life. You may be connected to someone early and have a profound influence that is not seen until later.
6. Time to Decide - No one should be pushed into making a decision without considering the importance of what they are doing. Being available for someone gives them time to count the cost, pose questions, think about conversations, etc. Jesus actually challenged professing followers to make a decision without delay, but he also told them to count the cost. Following Jesus is a huge life decision that has immense consequences. Lost people should not be led into this decision being told it is basically dying to self and taking up your cross.
7. Visual - The lost see as well as hear. “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” Matthew 5:16
8. Arguments - Allows for apologetics (arguments to defend and support belief in God and Bible).
9. May lead to contact with other believers. Since there is more opportunity for a lost person to be around some of your friends, it is much more likely they will meet more than just one Christian, thus strengthening the witness.
10. Corrects stereotypes and misconceptions (e.g. Christians are no fun and boring judgmental cult members).
1. Strings attached - If a lost person perceives your friendly advances are really a means to an end, he may be soured about your motives. “He just wants me to go to his/her church.”
Friendships are built upon commonalities, not pre-conceived expectations.
2. Cop-out - There can be a temptation to neglect telling the other person the gospel for fear of losing the friendship. Also, some people may use this approach to delay sharing the message unnecessarily simply because they are scared. They say when God “opens a door” it will be effortless and natural. But what they really want is to be liked by everyone and never suffer persecution or be insulted for Christ.
3. Awkward - Whole sub-sections of modern society are becoming unashamedly sinful. You really cannot be around someone much who is committed to living a lifestyle of ungodliness. How can two walk together unless they be agreed?
Plus, the Bible warns bad company can have a corrupting influence. True friends share life experiences, thus lifestyle evangelism is tenuous to say the least as a method to reach the growing segment of people living more blatant sinful lifestyle.
4. Compromising - If the truth be known, lost people hate holiness, so the believer may be tempted to somehow "fit in" sometimes by acting cool.
5. Takes too long - Don't procrastinate. Lost people avoid spiritual subjects, leaving you an indefinite time waiting. It's a proven fact, the longer a Christian waits to tell an acquaintance, the better the odds it will go undone. Why wait?
Besides, when does one know when the time is right?
6. Unnecessary - Most people will readily offer their opinions about spiritual matters, thus long protracted friendship building may not be necessary. Many people get saved without having Christian friends.
7. Limiting for many - Typically, about 65 to 80% of people will talk to a stranger about spiritual matters if done carefully and tactfully.
8. Presumptuous - You may not have the luxury of time. Many associations we make can end suddenly and unexpectedly. Waiting long periods to “earn the right to be heard” might end badly (you come to work and his office is cleaned out).
9. Going to church is meritorious - If a Christian waits too long to present the truths about grace, the basis of a believer's relationship with God can be perceived as doing good things to earn God's favor.
10. Biblical? - The Bible is short on examples of this approach. Texts given to support lifestyle evangelism are forced at best (woman at the well). Almost all the encounters Jesus and his apostles have with the lost are short and direct.