There is a danger that we could work hard to present the true, unchanging message of the gospel, and yet totally miss the minds and hearts of the people we want to reach. When you look at Jesus’ conversations with Nicodemus and with the woman at the well and with others, you see that he found a meaningful starting point for a spiritual conversation with them and then moved the conversation where it needed to go.
Our evangelism often has the wrong starting point and so we don’t engage people deeply enough. Today in Australia more and more non-churched people have no exposure to the Christian message. To begin with the assumption that they accept the Bible as God’s word, or even that they know what God is like or have enough background to grasp the gospel may mean that we miss our chance at effective communication of the great message we carry. LifeWorks is 70% pre-gospel. It starts where people are at.
Many people think that the best way to do evangelism is to unfold the Bible’s story of Christ as the prophesied Messiah/King of God’s people (a ‘biblical theology’ approach), who died as the sacrificial Passover lamb. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul did when he shared the gospel with Jews (those who had a background in the Old Testament story and a strong connection with the hope of the coming King). However, when Paul shared Christ with those who had no background in biblical things, he knew that approach would not be as meaningful to them, and so his approach was very different. He followed Jesus’ style of finding a meaningful starting point in their worldview and moving from there. It was a worldview-based approach.
As we share the beauty of Christ with totally non-churched Aussies through LifeWorks, we follow Paul’s pattern and begin by engaging their worldview meaningfully.
The most important factor to postmodern Australians when deciding what is true, is not reason, but experience. That does not mean we should abandon the reasoned truth of the gospel, but rather that we should make sure that people experience real Christian love and hospitality and community while they are hearing the truth about Christ. Truth demonstrated has enormous impact. That is why LifeWorks is built around a meal, and teaching, and discussion groups. People hear the gospel with the evidence/experience of it surrounding them in the lives of the believers they are getting to know.