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Random Ramble… Evangelism

I’ve been reading and studying a lot about evangelism these days, preparing to facilitate the “Irresistible Evangelism” course on Wednesday nights (Jubilee people, you really ought to be here for that course – it’s going to be great!).


Here are a few somewhat random thoughts, while I’m on the subject…

I think I first heard about “levels of receptivity” from Thom Rainer.  The concept is that unchurched/unsaved people can generally be grouped into five categories:

  • U5 – Highly Resistant: antagonistic and even hostile to the gospel
  • U4 – Resistant to the gospel, but with no antagonistic attitude
  • U3 – Neutral, with no clear signs of being interested yet perhaps being open to discussion
  • U2 – Receptive to the gospel and church
  • U1 – Highly receptive to hearing and believing the Good News

As to how many people might occupy each category, I theorize that the numbers would fall along a classic bell curve:

Recptivity Curve

Here’s what struck me as I pondered all that… Almost every evangelism script, formula, presentation, program, etc., that we’ve ever tried to use is focused almost exclusively on the U1 and U2 end of the curve – the most receptive people.  It troubles me that the folks on the other end of that curve die and go to hell, and yet we persist in methods that basically ignore them.

I submit that Servant Evangelism will make a substantial impact – and is more likely than almost anything else to nudge a person from Highly Resistant toward Neutral or Receptive territory.

That being said, I’m becoming more and more convinced that no single method is the “only right way” to do evangelism (Sorry about that, WOTM groupies).  God has always used a variety of ways and means to draw people to Himself through His servant-followers.  Some ways are undoubtedly more effective than others (I’m still waiting to meet someone who was saved by  “urinal outreach” – not saying that person isn’t out there, I just haven’t met them).

It’s probably an apocryphal story, but – and I’m paraphrasing here – a man approached legendary evangelist Dwight L. Moody and said, “Moody, I don’t like your methods of evangelism.”  Moody replied, “Well, I’m not completely sold on them myself.  Tell me about yours.”  The man said, “Why, I don’t have any!”  To which Moody replied, “Then I like mine better than yours.”  The barren are the loudest critics of the fruitful.

Finally, you might have noticed I’ve added Chris Walker to my blogroll.  Chris’ website is called “EvangelismCoach.org” and it is a fantastic resource.  Lots of great ideas, news, and discussion of evangelism.  Check it out!

Everyone have a great weekend!

  1. spadinofamily
    April 25, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Good thoughts! I think the tougher crowd needs to have at least some minimalistic apologetics to get them because you will need to deconstruct those defeater beliefs partially. I have two sources that I use that are on opposite ends of the religous spectrum of theology but both of them make you think. Of course one is Tim Keller. The other is Greg Boyd… both of them have the ability to deconstruct human arguments against God. In the end faith is still required however.

    Tim has a way of agreeing with irreligious people by agreeing with them about how religous attitudes are often part of the problem today. This immediatelly puts him on the same side as the atheist or irreligious person. To see more I have an hour or so video of Tim talking to a religious and irreligious crown at U of C Berkely. He does Q&A with the crowd at the end.


    Send me an e-mail to jspadino@gmail.com and I have a document of Tims about de-constructing defeater beliefs and I will forward on to you.

  2. April 27, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Tim looks at his proclamation of the Gospel as having 3 ways. The way of the religious, they way of the irreligious, and the Gospel way. Most people see life as bipolar. Gods way and mans way…. or the republican way and the democrat way, etc. They then entrench themelves in this way and dont want to even look at the other side. Many people (including me) have a need to win arguments or have at some time in our lives.

    By painting the Gospel way as a third way he does not instantly put himself as ‘on the other side’. He also openly discusses the problems with the religious way and sincerely belives that much of Christianity follows this way. He intimately discusses the problems that much of Christianity has created. He then goes on to say the the problem with Christianity is not less Christianity but deeper Christianity.

    You can see how some of this might be helpful in creating a third option that then points somene to the Gospel.

  3. April 27, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for the link! One minor correction, is that the site is http://www.evangelismcoach.org, not .com. The .com is a squatter.

    If I can be helpful for your course, feel free to contact me.

    Phillip and the eunuch is an example of the U1 moment in your chart above. When we notice the people that God points out to us and go stand next to them, often we will find a divine appointment that can move a person from one stage to the next.

    Certainly evangelism isn’t linear, but your chart above is helpful to see the range of distance that people have to take to come to faith.

    Chris Walker

  4. fiercegrace
    April 27, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Wow, Chris, thanks so much for your comments! Your site has been an immense help to me. Thanks for the work you do.

    Sorry about the typo – I fixed it and linked it and your name back to your site.

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