Summary: If you are not confrontational, or struggle with the intellectual style, perhaps you are more comfortable giving your testimony or focusing on the friends God has placed in your life. When the blind man was asked who Jesus was, he simply gave a testimony
Discovering Your Style, Part 2
Rev. Brian Bill
Now that my 40th birthday is in my rear-view mirror, I’m starting to experience the joy of a marginal memory. I can’t seem to remember all the things I used to. Someone sent me an email recently about three sisters who were all in their nineties and lived together.
One day the oldest filled up the bathtub. She put one foot in the water, paused, and then called downstairs to her sisters, “Am I getting in the tub or out of the tub?”
The middle sister started up the stairs to help, paused, and then called back downstairs, “Was I going up or coming down?”
The youngest sister, who was sitting at the kitchen table having tea, said, “I guess I’ll have to help. I hope I never get that forgetful!” and she knocked on wood.
She got up, paused, and then called upstairs, “I’ll be there as soon as I see who’s at the door!”
A recent survey asked Christian people who were ninety-five years or older what they’d do differently if they could live their lives over. Here are their top three changes:
1. They’d reflect more. They would spend more time getting away from the daily grind in order to thoughtfully examine the direction and meaning of their lives.
2. They’d risk more. These elderly people made it clear that they’d be more courageous about stepping out of their comfort zones. In short, they’d pray the Prayer of Jabez and ask God to burst their boundaries on a daily basis.
3. They’d invest in eternity. Instead of just focusing on the here-and-now, they’d share the gospel more often.
During this series we’ve learned that there are three different stages of evangelism: cultivating, planting and reaping. Last week we introduced the idea that God has given each of us different evangelistic styles. It takes all kinds of Christians to reach all kinds of non-Christians. All people cannot witness the same way, but all people can witness some way. Or, another way to say it is that God desires to use our personalities as we participate in the process of evangelism.
During this section of our series called, Becoming a Contagious Christian, we’re looking at the ways God equipped six people in the New Testament to fulfill different outreach needs. Last week we focused on Peter. Today we’ll study Paul’s approach and the Blind Man’s M.O.
Six Evangelistic Styles
Style Biblical Example Text
Confrontational Peter Acts 2
Intellectual Paul Acts 17
Testimonial Blind Man John 9
Interpersonal Matthew Luke 5
Invitational Samaritan Woman John 4
Serving Dorcas Acts 9
Paul’s Intellectual Approach
The hallmark of Paul’s style was his logical and well-reasoned presentation of the gospel message. The Book of Romans is a great example of how his mind works.
Can you think of a better person for God to send to the Athenian philosophers in Acts 17? These intellectual heavyweights would not have related well to Peter’s “turn-or-burn” approach. They needed logic that conclusively proved its point. Because of that he reasoned with them. Paul’s audience was probably more like our society than Peter’s was.
We live in a world that doesn’t know what we believe, and frankly doesn’t care. That reminds me of the woman who walked into a jewelry store looking for a necklace. As she looked at the display case, she said, “I’d like a gold cross.” The man behind the counter looked over the selection and asked, “Do you want a plain one, or one with a little man on it?”
The men of Athens were happy to see Paul because they loved to argue about new ideas. To them a good day always included some type of philosophical discussion.
Acts 17:16 tells us that when Paul saw the city, he was “greatly distressed.” This literally means that he was provoked by a storm of protest within his inner being. Instead of leaving town or complaining to the officials, verse 17 shows us that he went to work. He spent time both in the religious centers and in the marketplace. The text says that he did it every day. We see in verse 18 that some philosophers eventually wanted to debate with him.
These intellectuals eventually brought Paul before the Supreme Court of Athens and asked him to explain his beliefs. This is one of the most dramatic scenes in the entire New Testament. Standing on their turf, at their invitation, he starts where they are and uses this opportunity to preach the gospel to them. Like Ravi Zacharias addressing people with their PhDs, Josh McDowell speaking to university students, or Lee Strobel logically presenting the truths of Christianity to atheists, Paul tangled with a group of intellectual giants.
There are at least four principles from Paul’s style that we can apply today.