Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
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As part of my personal devotions, I listen to other pastors’ sermons, since listening to my own seems a bit redundant. Yesterday, I was listening to a brilliant sermon by Pastor Joe Burnham of Denver, and I’d like to share some of his insights on evangelism.
He separates people into two categories, those with a church background and those without. Using the illustration of a Dot-to-Dot activity, those who have spent some time in a Christian church have the dots, the basics of the faith, but if they don’t understand the Gospel, they need us to help them connect the dots. Usually, they have the dots of the Law, but without connecting them to see that Jesus has fulfilled the Law on our behalf, they can’t see the actual picture God has given us.
Others, like the men in Acts 17:16-34, have little or no experience or education in the Christian faith, so they need us to start with the very basics and actually draw the dots before we connect them. But first, we need to be on the same page, and this is done by finding a point of commonality. What do we have in common with that person, and more specifically, like Paul’s “Unknown God” example, what do our beliefs have in common with theirs? Once we have some common ground, we have a place to start.
Think about your friends who are not connected with a church community regularly. Do they have the dots that just need to be connected? If not, what common beliefs do you share? How can you start there to help them understand the truth God has revealed to us?