Evangelistic Lifestyles (July 1-29)

Teaching in General

In this unit on Evangelistic Lifestyles, we will discover how evangelism can take many shapes. We suggest that we may have an evangelism style (or styles) that best fits our personality. The same is true for learning styles. We all learn in a variety of ways, but generally we have a preferred learning style or styles, for example, Relational, Analytical, Reflective, or Practical. Using a variety of teaching methods will help students, with a variety of learning styles, connect with the message of the Bible. And all of us, no matter our preferred learning style, benefit from moving through a learning cycle which includes, studying and examining, reflecting on what has been learned, making connections between what scripture and life, applying what has learned, engaging in practical application and experiences, and relating with others through the whole process.

So, as you study Evangelism styles, be intentional about using similar teaching styles.

Provide a welcoming environment that is conducive to learning. Build trust so that class members can feel free to be open and honest. Be vulnerable yourself as an example. Do not be afraid to share your own faith struggles. Encourage class members to extend hospitality to others.

At times don’t be afraid to be confrontational. The scriptures and the Holy Spirit could be challenging you and the class to change behaviors, attitudes, or ways of thinking. Sometimes we must be confronted. Sometimes tension in Bible study can be good. It’s not always the goal to make everyone feel comfortable. Some times discomfort can lead to change. Allow the scriptures and the spirit to speak words of correction to you and your class. Some of our greatest personal insights come after struggle and discomfort.

Doing is learning. Learn by experience, through personal encounters and through hands-on activities. Go. Serve. Find practical application of the Bible. Be active inside and outside of class. Then reflect on the experience. What did it mean to you? Recall experiences of the past week: What was it like for you as you tried to live out your faith this week? Where did you see God at work? How have you served God this past week? Practice sharing in class with each other: tell the gospel story, share your testimony, have a conversation of faith, ask difficult faith questions that you’ve heard a nonbeliever ask.

Thoroughly study the scripture. Analyze. Ask tough questions. Be open to trying on new ways of thinking about the text. Debate. Try to understand another point of view.Consult scholarly resources.

Share stories and case studies that illustrate the lesson. Share your own stories: your growth and struggles with faith, how Christ is working in your life, how you became a Christian. Invite class members to tell their stories. Prompt them with questions: How has God answered your prayers? Have you ever been faced with a challenge so difficult you could only get through it with God’s help? Who was influential in leading you to become a follower of Jesus?

Introduction to the Unit

Practice Evangelism

This is a very good unit to put into practice. Encourage class members to put into practice what is learned and plan together as a class evangelism/outreach events.

Evangelism Styles
The lessons in this unit, “Evangelistic Lifestyles,” match up with the evangelism styles discussed in Becoming a Contagious Christian (Bill Hybels & Mark Mittleberg, Zondervan, 1994) and Got Style? Personality-Based Evangelism (Jeffrey A. Johnson, Judson Press, 2009). Either of these resources might be helpful to at least skim before teaching this unit. I will leave them in Tommy’s office if you want to take a look. I will pull some thoughts from them here and throughout the sessions.

The premise of these books, and to some extent our Sunday School lessons, is that we each have different personality types, so it is best to use, primarily, a style of evangelism that fits our personality. This should come as a relief to most of us whose primary style is not “confrontational.” When we think of evangelism and evangelists, the confrontational style may be what we think of. Hopefully these lessons can help our members expand their ideas of what it means to be evangelistic.

Consider the Evangelism Styles listed in each:

  Formations Sunday School    Contagious Christian       Got Style?
1.    Hospitality                      Invitational                    Invitational
2.    Confrontation                 Confrontational               Assertive
3.    Service                          Serving                          Incarnational
4.    Reason                          Intellectual                     Analytical
5.    Testimony                     Testimonial                     Storytelling
6.                                        Interpersonal                  Relational

Both resources, Becoming a Contagious Christian and Got Style? contain an “Evangelism Styles Questionnaire,” designed to help you discover your best style. It is available online if you’d like to see it or use it: http://in-him.com/styles-worksheet.pdf.

A VHS videotape comes with the resource kit for Becoming a Contagious Christian (in Tommy’s office). This video has vignettes for each of the evangelism styles, illustrating the different styles acted out in various settings. You could show a clip each week to model each style of evangelism.

Sharing Faith Jesus Style
William Turner, former member of Lexington Avenue Baptist, has written a book, Anytime, Anywhere: Sharing Faith Jesus Style. Dr. Turner looks at some of the variety of ways Jesus shared faith with others. We have a number of copies if you would like to have one (I will leave them in Tommy’s office).

Keith on Vacation and Conference
I will be taking some vacation and conference time away in July and will take a break from writing Sunday School Supplements, so there will be no Sunday School Supplements for August.