Thursday, June 9, 2011

Questions about Evangelizing

My daughter and son-in-law are on a mission team heading to Angola, Africa ( The team has been in Portugal the past year learning Portugese. They're still waiting for Angolan visas. While they wait they're still preparing their minds for Angola. Recently they sent out a list of questions about evangelizing to some of their teachers, mentors, trainers. How would you answer?

Early Stages
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9b)

We envision our first phase of work as primarily learning and building relationships to prepare for our second phase, in which we will transition to purposeful church planting on a small scale, gaining experience.  Our third phase will be church planting and mentoring church planters on a larger scale based on the experience gained in phase 2.

1.      During our initial phase in Angola, we will do many small research projects to help us learn about Angolan culture.  What research projects do you think would be most helpful for us in preparing for evangelism?  What questions should we be asking?
2.      In your experience, what were the best places to make contacts and how were contacts typically made?
3.      How did you overcome different types of barriers (ie. Social, Cultural, Religious, etc…) that once overcame opened doors for more effective opportunities to evangelize?
4.      What were some effective evangelistic programs, activities or tools that you incorporated in your ministries? From your perspective, why did those work? What things did you try that “flopped” or were ineffective? Why were they not effective? What would have made them more effective?
5.      What is your perspective on ‘one-on-one’ vs. group evangelism?

A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)

One of our core values is mentoring. That means, during our initial phase, we would like to ask Angolan Christians to mentor us in a variety of ways so that we can learn by doing.  Later on, we hope to mentor Angolans as our primary means of teaching, so that they can learn by doing.

1.      Our mentors may come from a variety of backgrounds, depending on who is available and willing. Do you have suggestions for how to initiate and/or structure these relationships?
2.      How did you divide your time between personal evangelism and training or mentoring others to evangelize?
3.      What should we do in order to prepare our own hearts to evangelize to the lost? What are some ways that we can prepare the hearts of those that we’ll be mentoring?
4.      In your opinion, how much time should be spent in teaching fundamentals of the Bible or of faith to evangelists in training as opposed to accompanying them in actual evangelistic activities?
5.      Are there certain characteristics that you have observed in those that evangelize fervently and those that don’t? What are they?

Dependence vs. Independence
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. (Proverbs 1:5)

In evangelism (and every aspect of ministry), we want to avoid dependency on our team from the beginning.  We are searching for ways to let the Angolan church depend on its own leaders, rather than us.

1.      Are there ways that we can evangelize during the initial phase of our ministry without immediately creating a dependency on our team?  In other words, how can we lead people to Christ without inadvertently planting a church that looks to us as its leaders?
2.      In your experience, how quickly did new or potential converts shift from being the receivers to taking the lead in studies or evangelistic efforts? Was there a specific method used in transferring responsibilities to these people?
3.      Was your ‘Western’ background (or lack thereof) a help or hindrance in reaching your targeted people-group, and if so, how? What are some common pitfalls that you have experienced or seen others experience in trying to communicate the gospel message cross-culturally?
4.      In your context(s), what were some of the obstacles that hindered people from hearing or responding to the Gospel (i.e. cultural mindset, other religious or philosophical beliefs, family pressures, etc.)? Were people initially drawn directly to the Gospel or to an individual, group, program, etc.?

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, so that you may be wise for the rest of your life. (Proverbs 19:20)

We are striving to be the best missionaries that we can be. We realize that this ministry is much bigger than us and that we have much to learn from those that have gone before us. We are open to any other advice or input that you may have. These last questions are more subjective. We would like hear your input and learn from your experiences.

1.      If you had it to do over, what would you have dedicated more or less of your time to?
2.      What advice can you offer to encourage us as we work with others to live evangelistically?
3.      What additional advice on evangelism would you give that is not covered by any of the questions above?