Is lifestyle evangelism a good method? What is lifestyle evangelism?
Lifestyle evangelism calls Christians to live an attractive, winsome, holy life that captures the attention of neighbors and coworkers to earn a chance to share the gospel. Lifestyle Evangelism, a book by Joe Aldrich, defines this style.
Lifestyle evangelism combines proclaiming Jesus (Romans 1:16) with living a life that shows others the difference Jesus makes. Paul told the Ephesians, "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1–3). Clearly there is a particular "lifestyle" that Christians are meant to live. First Peter 3:15 says, "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." This implies that our lives should be lived in such a way that others are curious about our faith and that we need to be able and willing to share our faith with others.
Some say lifestyle evangelism falls short or allows Christians to avoid sharing the gospel verbally, but true lifestyle evangelism requires telling the Good News in the context of personal relationship. Other strategies, such as tracts and media, are more direct but less personal.
Peter proclaimed the gospel verbally in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 were baptized into Christ (Acts 2:41). He, and others, also showed compassion by meeting the needs of widows (Acts 6:1–7). He both shared the gospel as well as lived it out.
The beginning of the church, as told in Acts, also shows us that Christians were known in their communities for their kindness (Acts 5:13) and shows us they told their neighbors about new life in Christ (Acts 5:20–21). Again, we see both the lifestyle and the verbal sharing about Jesus.
Paul instructed Timothy about his behavior and speaking the message of salvation in 1 Timothy 4:16: "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."
Christians should not focus solely on showing God's goodness nor solely on sharing the gospel verbally. Both are required and work best together.
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