Evangelism is one of those words that even I don't like to hear too much. It's a word that's so loaded with baggage and assumptions that it almost never means to us what the concept meant to people like Peter. This past Sunday we looked at Peter's speech in chapter 2 of the book of Acts, and what you quickly see is an example of true evangelistic speaking, untouched and unblemished.
What's interesting to me is when I realized that speeches have remained an important part of the Christian tradition right from the start, while the rest of the world adapts and moves on. Granted that plays, books, comedy, painting, music, and the blast of writing through social media are all different ways that evangelism has happened. Still, the basic spoken word is the most prominent in churches today.
Peter made a speech. In his world the influence of philosophy and rhetoric were at it's pinnacle and the highest form of someone's importance and credibility rested on an individuals ability to influence through spoken word. So it's no mystery why the Spirit would use Peter in this way. But that doesn't mean that the Spirit uses only that medium for evangelism. We limit ourselves when we ignore the many valid mediums through which we can evangelize in a true form.
As we worked our way through this Speech in Acts 2, there were several principles which went beyond the medium used which we will be discussing in our groups this week. These principles can be used in a variety of ways if we're creative enough to try and put them into practice.
1) In Peter's message, he directly addressed the questions that people were asking instead of assuming to ask questions for them.
- What are the questions that people are asking today? Think both inside, but more importantly, outside what's considered the spiritual realm.
- How does Jesus address, or answer these questions?
2) Peter centered on the idea that God is already moving, and explained what God is already doing.
- How is God moving in your life?
- How do you see God moving in the world?
3) Peter spoke into the context, experience, and understanding of his audience in the same way that Paul did. (See Acts 17:22-23). Neither took he opportunity to prove why they were wrong or ignorant, but used their understanding as an opportunity.
- Are we scared to use other religious traditions as an opportunity rather than an opposing force?
- Why can't we use atheist, agnostic, and scientific positions as an opportunity?
- Can you think of an example where this can be done?
4) In Peter's experience, and in the experience of all the believers throughout Acts, evangelism was the natural result of experiencing the Spirit.
- Can we really say that we're experiencing the Spirit if evangelism (as seen in the book of Acts rather then how we understand it) isn't happening?
- What does evangelism look like in your life?