Contagious Evangelism

Contagious Evangelism Conference
October 21-23, 2002
Willow Creek Community Church

By: Rolf Ronstadt, Men’s Ministry on behalf of Christ Community Church (from handout notes)

This Willow Creek evangelism conference for churches and groups of all sizes is designed to equip believers for effective evangelism by showing them how they can share the Gospel in a natural and powerful way while being the person God made them to be.

Session Recap: Preaching to the Hearts and Minds of Unchurched People

Presenter: Lee Strobel

Goal: To creatively and effectively communicate the gospel to seekers in a culturally relevant and Biblical accurate way.

Lee Strobel started the session by telling the story of a lady who as an atheist attended a small group and subsequently accepted Christ.  She then wrote a letter to Lee accompanied by a poem which Lee Strobel made available at this session (see attached).

Highlights of Session:

How are seekers fundamentally different than believers?

Their attitudes are different
To seekers, the message is the most important part of the service,
Seekers have little tolerance for anything that’s not relevant to their lives,

What does it take to preach to Seekers?

  • have the right spiritual preaching/teaching gift
  • have the right caring/loving heart
  • have the right understanding/trusting relationship
  • have the right commitment, work ethics and feedback
  • have the right attitude toward the culture you talk to
  • have the right skills in offering edification
  • have the right skills toward new innovations (breaking old traditions)
  • have the right attitude toward the Gospel
  • have the right kind of skin to preach

What is it about the message that keeps skeptics progressing in their spiritual journey?

Speakers strategically acknowledge and facilitate the seeking process:

  • Awareness stage “This is it”
  • Relevant stage “I need it”
  • Credibility stage “I need it because it’s true”
  • Trial stage “I can envision it”
  • Commitment stage “I Take it”
  • Reinforcement stage “I get it”

Messages need to be creative:

  • Connect with the Seeker
  • Respect the Seeker
  • Communicate to be understood in their world
  • Advance the thinking process
  • Talk from a authentic heart

What can you do as the speaker?

  • don’t be holier than thou, be transparent, be honest and your self
  • speak their language, strip all christenise,
  • built a convincing case for Christianity and skillfully dismantle their philosophy
  • have a high user value creating confidence when applied to life
  • deal with the “why” as much as the “what”
  • never fail to be captivating

Six handy tools of the preaching trade:

Use videos, props, slides, handouts, live drama, and action sets

Relax messages creating the unexpected (laugh), dismantle stereo types, be normal people, not too serious, common ground of understanding, bring down barriers, release tension, don’t shy away from challenges, give different levels of participation

Five things I wanted to mention but couldn’t figure out where to put!

  • spend time to develop the most appropriate and relevant topics
  • messages should have intriguing titles
  • people like to learn from stories
  • if you don’t capture people in the first three minutes you won’t capture them at all
  • Applies it message structure that works best is the message structure that works best!!!

Bill Hybel’s Classic Approach:

1. Introduction
2. Sentence or two why it is important to be here
3. Explains it
4. Illustrates it
5. Applies it

Recommended Outreach Opportunity for Seekers:

Great Debate: Atheism vs. Christianity – Sunday, December 8, 2002
a live debate via satellite between Dr. Michael Newdow and Pastor Cliff Knechtle

Books & Resource Recommendations:

Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary, by Lee Strobel
God’s Outrages Claims, by Lee Strobel
What Would Jesus Say, by Lee Strobel,
The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel
Communicating With Power, by Michael Duduit

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