Friendship Evangelism in a Post-Christian Era

I know it sounds corny, but it’s accurate.

What I call “friendship evangelism” has always worked. Annual polling of our congregation consistently revealed 85+ percent came to Jesus through conversations with a friend.

The Art of Neighboring

I recently found new evidence of this after reading, The Art of Neighboring. It is a guidebook for friendship evangelism within a few yards of your house. The book brought me new conviction regarding my immediate neighbors. The result: I intentionally hang out in my yard several evenings each week when I know they will be arriving from work.

The old me was a friendly neighbor—as long as a neighbor would approach me in my driveway or yard. After reading the book I began walking downhill toward one neighbor’s house or uphill to the other. We’re getting to know each other and conversations are productive .

Masks & Post-COVID Barbeque

Early into COVID, my wife made masks from Hawaiian print cloth. We packaged six to a household and gave them to eight neighbors (four on each side). Some of the people were total strangers, but everyone accepted the masks along with a promise of a block party post-pandemic.

Praying with My Neighbor & Other Stuff

I’ve been able to pray with one neighbor on two occasions. And, we casually talk about God from time to time. I’m teaching him what little I know about investing which leads to talk of tithing—hardly the “Romans Road,” but still pointing to Jesus. As friends follow friends into friendship, they naturally follow them into interests, hobbies, etc. Not so hard to follow into faith…

I’m finding that its pretty easy to be conversant about God without being preachy or inviting someone to an event. The next step is to pray together. After that, who knows?

Salt and Light in a Post-Christian World

Salt and light are both quiet commodities. Their presence makes little noise but great differences. Perhaps the same is true of effective personal evangelists. The salt must be salty and the light visible. Lives marked by visible fruit of the spirit will make inroads where programs and preaching fail.

In post-Christian America relation-based evangelism is becoming crucial to the survival and legacy of the church. I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences in the comments box below.

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6 thoughts on “Friendship Evangelism in a Post-Christian Era”

    1. I think you guys are years ahead of us in this regard. We’re playing catchup to Europe because we maintained an illusion of growth via visibility during four decades of shrinkage. The American church is just now beginning to understand how much ground we’ve lost and how our methods have lulled us to sleep.

  1. The city of Charlotte did an initiative two years ago using the book “The Art of Neighboring“ by David Runyon as it’s premise. 100 churches from across the city did a three week sermon series to attempt to drive home the need for relationships based on proximity in our neighborhoods. Some of the fruit was found simply in having that volume of churches talking about the same thing, but I have found lingering magnets on refrigerators and discussions about what it means to neighbor well as a follower of Jesus.

    The only thing we, as Multiply Church, wrestled with is the reality that most of our neighborhoods have been geographically situated in ways that keep our lives pretty homogenous. If 2020 taught the American church anything it’s that we live and worship in predominately homogenous environments and need to expand our circles. Gaining insight and spiritual wisdom from folks outside of our cultural lanes equips us to better holistically understand and share the Gospel. I’d love to see more resources on “neighboring” on a city-level viewpoint that leads to sharing our faith across cultural lines as well as property lines!

    1. Thanks Casey, are you aware of Dave & Jon Ferguson’s new book, “B.L.E.S.S. – Five Everyday Ways to Love Your Neighbor and Change the World?” I bought it but am into a couple of other books. Sounds like more is coming about neigboring. I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on the subject of siloed neighborhoods.

      1. Absolutely. I remember reading “Surprise the World” by Michael Frost that had a similar acronym – Bless, Say, Listen, Learn, Sent.

        It was about five behaviors of highly effective relational evangelist.

        Looking forward to chatting on Friday!

        1. Casey,
          Thanks for the update and for recommending the book. I think we’re all looking at evangelism differently than we did in the past decade or so. Any tools pointing us toward fruitfulness are super welcome!

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