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Evangelism Made Personal

Principles For Teaching In Evangelism

(Tips To Remember When Trying To Teach Others)
Should you decide you are ready to begin teaching others, having an idea of what material and method (mult-lesson, one-lesson, etc.) you plan to use, there are several principles to keep in mind that can increase the likelihood of success. For example...

BE "CLASS" CONSCIOUS

Rather than getting into religious discussions when it is not convenient (such as at work), always think in terms of turning religious inquiries into an opportunity to set up a class or home study with the person. There are several advantages of doing this:

  • Those who are not seriously interested in spiritual matters will not consent to a study; therefore this will distinguish between the truth seekers and those who are not

  • It gives you time to carefully prepare your lesson(s)

  • A discussion of religious matters is more productive when there is ample time, and the Bible is open to answer any questions

  • There will be fewer hinderances should the person decide to obey the gospel at that time

Setting up a class is easy, just ask! If the person says no, then just leave them with an open invitation to a class anytime in the future.

SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD

This principle is key to any effective communication, whether it occur in business, family relationships, or religious discussions. Applied to teaching others, it would involve:

  • Asking questions, then listening carefully to what the other person is saying

  • Occasionally repeating what they say, to make sure you properly understand them

  • Endeavoring to know their own doctrine as well if not better than they do themselves

  • Trying to put yourself in their place, imagining what they must feel like to have their cherished beliefs challenged

This will not only improve your ability to effectively communicate with them, but will also increase the likelihood they will reciprocate by carefully listening to you!

DISAGREE WITHOUT BEING DISAGREEABLE

People will frequently disagree with you, though some may later change their minds. How can we disagree without being "disagreeable?" How can we discuss religion without getting into arguments that generate a lot of heat but little light? Here are suggestions based upon the Scriptures:

  • Maintain a spirit of gentleness and humility; but for the grace of God you would be lost too! (Ga 6:1)

  • Refuse to be drawn into religious quarrels; if a discussion degenerates into one, admit your own faults and suggest the study continue at another time (2Ti 2:23-24a)

  • Don't try to teach until you are able to teach (2Ti 2:24; Jm 3:1-2)

  • Be patient; some people take longer than others (2Ti 2:24)

  • If necessary to correct someone who opposes you, do so with humility (2Ti 2:25)

  • Remember the wisdom of Solomon: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." (Pr 15:1-2)

It might help to maintain patience and humility, if we keep in mind that Paul says those in error are in "the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (2Ti 2:26). The only way they can escape is through the proper and delicate use of "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ep 6:17).

ANSWER QUESTIONS BY LETTING INQUIRERS READ IT FOR THEMSELVES

When people ask questions, it is best to answer them with the Scriptures. Use an OPEN Bible to answer their questions. Better yet, have them read it out of their own Bibles. There are several reasons for doing this:

  • They are more likely to understand the point you are trying to make if they can both read and hear it

  • It is hard for them to disagree with what they can read for themselves in their own Bible

  • You gain their respect and confidence that you are only teaching the Word of God, and not the ideas of men

So as often as possible, let them answer their own questions by having them read it for themselves!

USE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS TO SET UP FUTURE STUDIES

A fear many people have in teaching others is that they will be asked a question for which they do not know the answer. But such questions can be advantageous if handled properly! Here is how:

  • Don't try to bluff your way through a subject you are not prepared for; gain respect for honesty by admitting your need to study further

  • Use that difficult question as a reason to continue the study on another occasion; explain that to give an answer the question deserves, you will need to study more and come back at another time

What might at first appear to be a stumblingblock to a teacher can actually be an a stepping stone for increased opportunities!

CLOSE EFFECTIVELY

After you have presented the material in your lesson(s), you need to ask for a response. This can often be the most difficult part of teaching, for now you are asking the person to make a judgment about the truthful- ness of what you have been saying, and to make a decision as to whether they will obey it. To close effectively, you might ask the person the following questions...
  • "Does this make sense?"

  • "Is there anything I have said that you do not understand?"

  • "Have I been teaching you anything other than what the Bible teaches?"

Assuming the person answers favourably, you then need to make the actual request. Here is where I differ from some approaches, which to me sound like subtle ways to move someone to do something they really don't want to do (sort of like a salesman trying to make a close with someone who is really not sold on the product!). Since conversion occurs only when our faith is working in cooperation with God's power (Col 2:12), it is absolutely necessary that the prospect has truly come to faith and repentance before they are baptized.

Therefore, I believe a simple and direct question is all that is necessary: "Would you like to obey Christ now and be baptized for the remission of your sins?"

If the person says no, you might ask why not, and depending upon the answer, study some more or set up a time for future study. In any case, let the person know that you are always ready to study further should they be interested, and that you are always available should they decide to obey the gospel. Remember, what you sow today may take time before it finally brings forth a harvest.

Finally, a thought or two about...

OVERCOMING OBJECTIONS

In a similar vein I differ with some on how to handle objections. Certainly we should ever be ready and willing to answer objections that are raised. But again, unless "you believe with all your heart" (Ac 8:36-37), God's blessings provided in baptism will not be found! Therefore, we need to be careful not to apply undue pressure. While we want to encourage others to obey the gospel, we must make sure that the decision is theirs.

So be careful to let gospel of Christ be the converting power, not "persuasive words of human wisdom" (1Co 2:4). If a person understands what the gospel says, a simple request accompanied with an earnest plea for obedience to Jesus Christ should suffice.

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