Relearning Evangelism: Allowing Your International Team to Reshape Your Methods
Whether you are in Utah, going door to door to reach Mormons or in the deep south inviting your unbelieving friend to your home for dinner, evangelism in America takes many forms. But does the way you evangelize work in Europe? If you were to go door to door in Germany, you would be seen as a strange nuisance. Inviting a newly met neighbor over for dinner in Ireland is seen as a social faux pas.
When first moving to Europe, to be an effective evangelist we must learn from Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:20. Paul says that he is willing to become as a Jew to the Jews, to those under the law he became as those under the law. Paul was willing to change his methods of evangelism in order to reach those around him. Like Paul, we have to be willing to humble ourselves and let the new culture we are a part of inform the ways we evangelize. How do we do this?
First, we must submit to the knowledge of the local team members. Ask them what they do to effectively reach the lost in their area. Listen carefully when they tell of the things that do not work.
Second, ask them how Americans are perceived in the local community. Americans are often seen as brash, loud and uncouth. Understanding this can make a huge impact on how you first approach an unbeliever.
Third, join the local team members as they go to the local community hang out, sports club or social group and watch how they interact with the people around them. How do they create bridges to the Gospel? Do they invite unbelievers to coffee for deeper conversation? Do they use stories and parables to share the Gospel? Are they blunt when speaking with them about faith in Jesus? Do they invite them to their homes? Take what you learn from your team of local believers and incorporate it in your evangelistic method.
Evangelizing in a foreign culture is always an exercise in humility. It is laying down your ways and allowing God to work through the local team members to re-shape your evangelistic methods.