Lifestyle evangelism is known by different names: Relationship Evangelism, Bridge Evangelism, Friendship Evangelism, etc. Of course before one can become a good witness for Christ, they first must be saved themselves and carry out Paul’s direction “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10, NKJV). But he didn’t stop there “and your feet shod with the PREPARATION of the gospel of peace;” (Ephesians 6:15, emphasis added, NKJV).
The Bible is clear, to be an effective witness requires that the Christian to not only be living a holy, righteous life which attracts the unsaved, but also he must exercise the power given by the Holy Spirit to verbally witness. To be the kind of witness that Jesus wants it is not enough to just live a righteous life but one must also be prepared to verbalize [to explain your hope in Christ] the Gospel as God gives the opportunity. Based on the Bible, you will not be an effective witness for Christ by never expounding the Gospel. In the area of carrying out Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8, a silent Christian does not glorify God nor bring pleasure to Him (Isaiah 43:7 and Revelation 4:11).
It is critical for the Christian to be ready to tell others about their hope because it is God who works through the Christian to accomplish His will and to bring pleasure to Him. “Therefore, my beloved as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13, NKJV).
For our purposes in this study we will consider Lifestyle Evangelism as having two basic components. These God has given to the true believer in order for them to see people come to know Him as personal Savior:
- The message of the Gospel of Christ is the “power” of God to see people come to know Christ [saved] – Romans 1:16. It is important to recognize that “only” God saves people as the Holy Spirit draws them through His convicting power (John 6:44; 6:63; 14:6; 16:8).
- The manifestation of the gospel in the life of the Christian who is living a godly life (I Peter 1:15-16; 3:1-2). By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the Christian has the power to be a witness (Acts 1:8).
One has said that Lifestyle Evangelism is an evangelism strategy that focuses on living a holy life among unbelievers with the goal of attracting people to Christ through their lifestyle in addition to their verbal testimony.
Another has said that the use of the household setting is something every family should consider. The caring and loving family provides an atmosphere rich in security and God’s compassion [grace] in which family members can come to know Christ.
“However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go HOME to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19, emphasis added, NKJV) “and Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this HOUSE, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10, emphasis added, NKJV)
(See also illustrations of family concern and proclamation of the Gospel to family members: John 1:41-44; John 4:53; Acts 10:2, 44; Acts 16:14-15; 16:29-34).
Another has said that Lifestyle Evangelism is:
- adapting the two means to the best advantage for the person we are seeking to lead to Christ.
- a process of developing meaningful relationships with other people in which we allow the power of the gospel to first be demonstrated in our lives by living holy joyful lives.
- “building bridges” of friendship (develop relationships) with those we are attempting to reach. The bridge is built by exposing our “light” and “good works” and being ready to follow Peter’s instruction of “But sanctify, the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (I Peter 3:15, NKJV).
Notice that to witness properly one must “sanctify” the Lord God in their heart [think by living a holy life] and showing their love to Jesus by keeping His commandments (John 14:15).
Also the believer must be ready to give the Gospel message of the hope that we have because of being saved. One way to analyse if you are ready is to ask yourself if the Fruit of the Spirit is being produced in your life?
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26, NKJV).
4. On the Day of Pentecost in the streets of Jerusalem 3,000 people were converted to Christ and baptized as a result (Acts 2:41). Peter was certainly verbal when proclaiming what God had done, indicating salvation was available to those who want it.
5. Members of the early church were known for their good works, “being highly regarded by the people” (Acts 5:13). A combination of vibrant faith and a vibrant sharing of faith is the proper balance.
Let’s review Relationship and Lifestyle Evangelism:
- Adapting the two means, as previously outlined, to use them to the best advantage for the person(s) we are seeking to lead to Christ.
- Relationship or Lifestyle Evangelism includes the process of developing meaningful relationships with other people.
- This involves gradually developing friendships with those who are lost:
- by working with an unlimited pool of contacts [family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.].
- by normally starting with those closest to us and working outward in “circles of concern.”
4. The development of relationships involve several steps:
the initial contact or a progressive development of family relationships
- becoming better acquainted with a friend, etc.
- being a servant
- being a friend
- sharing your faith as God gives the opportunity
- witness of the Body of Christ (see context of Hebrews 10)
- exposure to the Gospel of others
- making sure the invitation is well understood
There is a blessing and a value of witnessing to others:
- Relationship or Lifestyle Evangelism requires that our spiritual growth and development is what it should be.
- It will motivate us to draw closer to God (Ephesians 6:10).
- It will make us better and stronger Christians.
- It will develop a concern for the lost.
- It will strengthen our servant approach to life for Jesus.
- It will make our neighborhoods a better place in which to live.
- It will improve the moral environment in our places of play and employment.
- The changing of our society and culture requires the believer to be flexible and understand his or her world.
Lifestyle or Relationship evangelism is a viable option which
- takes into consideration some of the forces which hinder our effectiveness in evangelism: our fear, our lack of concern for the lost, and our distraction by the world.
- makes us stronger in the power and strength of Christ as we try to influence the lost.
- this type of evangelism is easy, natural, and gives us a less confrontational way to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- it is the opinion of this writer that this type of evangelism is more likely to be successful in leading souls to Christ and keep them faithful to the Lord as we follow II Timothy 2:2.
There are some who are critical of Friendship, Lifestyle and Relational evangelism simply because they fear that Christians will become lazy, detached from the lost, and not carry out the Great Commission that Christ has given to ALL believers. However, perhaps it is best to leave others to the work of the Holy Spirit. Evangelism is not a place for legalism. We, as believers, are to live by faith and that would include trusting that other believers will be obedient in expressing their love to Christ. He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” I do not want to end up one day at the Judgment Seat of Christ having to explain my judging of other Christians who seem not to be involved in the mission given to us by Christ.
Well, it is up to you whether you apply these principles or not. It is your decision before God. We present the facts but you must decide.