An Indirect Approach to Evangelism

Last week we posted on the challenge of sharing the gospel during the holiday season. (Don't forget to download your free copy of Bringing the Gospel Home by Randy Newman)!

Jerram Barrs offers additional insight that may be helpful as you interact with close friends and family:

Confronting people head-on with the gospel can raise hackles. Depending on the person and their situation, theological matters have the potential to create antagonism in someone's heart and build barriers. This is not the response we hope to generate with our evangelistic efforts.

Jesus was aware of this possibility and did not always confront people head-on. When confronted with a question from a teacher of the law, Jesus knew that the man's heart was not ready to hear the truth. Instead, he responded to him by asking questions and telling him the story of the Good Samaritan. The story was intended to to exercise the scholar’s imagination, will, emotions, and mind:

  • “Why did he use a Samaritan as his example?
  • Am I like the priest and Levite in that story?
  • Have I ever helped a stranger in need?
  • Have I ever loved anyone to the same degree that I love myself?
  • Will my knowledge of the law be sufficient for me to inherit eternal life?
  • Can I bring myself to go back to Jesus, humble myself before him, and ask him different questions?

Learning Evangelism from Jesus

Jerram Barrs

Studying Jesus's conversations with a diversity of people during his life, Jerram Barrs draws lessons for modern evangelistic practice from the Gospels, offering believers timeless wisdom in their approach to unbelievers.

Questions and stories work together like this, long after they are heard, because they engage a person so fully. Most people that we encounter have mechanisms in place to conceal from themselves the truth about what is really going on in the deep recesses of their being. The right questions or the right story can get a person thinking about their motives and the state of their heart in a way that direct facts may not.

Adapted from Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrs.

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