(142) Engaging Culture 3_Relationship-Driven Evangelism

Notes & Transcripts

Engaging Culture III: Relationship-Driven Evangelism

John 17:15-19

January 16, 2011



·         Darrin -13:00

·         132

Scripture reading: Luke 5:27-32


Thank you for missing “the big game.” If I hear cheers or groans during my sermon I will guess that you are checking in via your phones. How simpler life used to be!


Help us hold out your words of life to those we love...

engaging culture

We are in the third week of our 4 week series on evangelism, reaching out and sharing the Gospel and bringing people into God’s kingdom.

·         This is to launch The Gathering’s emphasis on “Engaging Culture” in 2011.

For the majority of us, the most effective way to share the Gospel is through friendship evangelism – starting from the foundation of a relationship.

The good news is that done right, evangelism is surprisingly natural and actually enjoyable – it is simply sharing what matters most to you with people who mean a lot to you.

·         It’s not easy, but when you are working out of your gifts, it is good work. 

Here is the MOdel for effectively engaging our culture: S+C+X=EC

·         S: Striving – (last week) We live a Gospel Perspective; acutely aware of our desperate need for God’s grace.

This is largely to Christians, springing from the conviction of a life changed by the Gospel, without a shred of self-righteousness, because you are dependent on God’s grace.

·         C: Community connections – (this week) Keep it relational.

·         X (an ancient abbreviation for Christ): Christians – being able to clearly communicate Gospel.  

This sermon only has one point: Develop and maintain relationships with non-Christians so you can share the Gospel in the context of relationship.

relationship-driven Gospel friend of Is this using people?

·         Right away, warning bells may be going off in your head.

Doesn’t that sound like Amway (and a host of multi-level marketing), where you are encouraged to try to sell this businessopportunity” to your friends?

Q   Does this mean we make friends for the purpose of leading them to Jesus? If it doesn’t work, we move to the next project?

·         No, we make friends because we are like our savior, and he loved people; he was a friend of sinners.

Most people can tell when they are a “project” and not a friend, so I have to image that Jesus must have actually loved these people or else they wouldn’t have hung out with them.

And as we build relationships, we care more about them, and because we care for them, we cannot help share the Gospel.

·         Our relationships are not driven by the evangelism, our evangelism is driven by relationships.

Maintaining proximity

Q   So how do we maintain and develop genuine relationships with non-Christians?

We must begin by maintaining proximity. In other words, we have to actually be around them. I know that seems obvious, but the Christian track record would indicate otherwise.

·         Let’s look to say what Jesus had to say about this.

As you go there, I want to teach you a new word: Conflation. It means combine a couple of things to make new thing, specifically take a couple of different verses and make a new one.

·         Try to find the most famous conflation:

NIV John 17:15-16  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Q   Did you see it? What expression do we get from this? “Be in the world but not of the world.”

·         What’s happening is Jesus is about to die and he’s praying for his followers, knowing the challenges they’ll face.

If you want to be an ineffective Christian and not have an impact on the world, I have two suggestions: Isolate yourself from the world or allow yourself to be infected by the world.

“Be in the world”

“Don’t take out of the world” doesn’t just mean don’t take them to heaven (that might hamper evangelism), but not to remove themselves like the Essenes, forgotten for almost 2,000 years.

Q   How many Christians do you know who are isolated like this?

They find it far easier and more comfortable to stay sequestered in their little Christian subculture:

·         Only have Christian friends.

·         Only listen to Christian radio and watch Christian TV.

·         I’ve even seen a Christian telephone directory because God forbid that you buy eggs from an atheist.

This is very safe – you don’t have to worry about ever having your faith challenged.

Q   If you died today, how many non-Christians would be at your funeral?

Not of the world

On the other hand, there is the danger of being infected by worldliness, which is why he continued by praying:

NIV John 17:17-19 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus prayed we be sanctified, kept holy as we are in this world. The danger of corruption is immense: We grow up in this world and naturally adopt its ways, values, and perspective.

·         Just partying with non-Christians isn’t enough; simply showing them you aren’t a fuddy-duddy isn’t engaging culture!

You are different from other Christians. Great. But are you also different from non-Christians?

The tension

·         There is an ongoing tension between staying in this world but not being of it.

The greatest challenge of engaging our culture with the Gospel is to remind in the world while not becoming of the world.

It’s easy to isolate yourself to stay nice and clean. It’s also easy to unthinkingly become like your environment.

Q   Which is the greater danger for you?

For me it’s being removed from the world. Pastors are the worst offender as this – at least most of you work with non-Christians. I have to be intentional about not being isolated.

·         That is one of the reasons I write my sermons at the Co-op and Starbuck, and I try to be open to conversations.

finding connection points

Maybe you are in the same boat with me – you find it difficult to create relationships with non-Christians because you have so few connections. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

1. Family: For some of you, that’s scarier than primitive cannibal tribes.

2. Friends

3. Co-Workers: For most of you this is the #1 opportunity.

4. Neighbors: Do you know your neighbors? Do you view your home as fortress or an outreach center?

5. Miscellaneous associations:

·         Coffee shops

·         Sports areas

·         Pubs

·         Fraternities

·         PTA

·         Rotary


If you don’t have any, then go out and join one of these!

Paying the rent

It’s one thing to have these acquaintances: How do we turn these into real relationships where we have the ability to speak into their lives?

·         It might be a familiar statement, but it’s true: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

It’s a lot easier to give information than to care. It’s far easier to shove a tract under your neighbor’s door than to spend an hour listing quietly about their rebellious teenager.

·         The problem is that we are so used to being served.

We go to a restaurant expecting to be served, we expect our schools to serve us, the government to take care of us, businesses to provide customer satisfaction, TV to entertain us.

·         If they don’t we change the channel, change providers, vote them out, go to another restaurant

In every area of our lives, we expect to be served, so what happens when it comes to relationships? We bring in this subtle expectation that the relationship exists to serve us.

·         And if it isn’t fulfilled, we find new relationships.

This is where we find out just how much “of the worldwe really are, because as followers of Jesus we lose this right:

NIV Mark 10:43-44 Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

I like the way one pastor put it – you have to pay relational rent. You don’t get to get into people lives for free. It will cost you something; you will have to give of yourself.

emotional energy

You have to pay with emotional energy: You also have to put yourself out there and care for people.

Q   Have you been in a conversation where you could tell they were hurting and you could help, but didn’t because of the energy?

I have. I am not saying you are always obligated, but I know there have been times I have lost the opportunity to pay rent


You have to pay rent with literal money. Let’s take a look at a confusing Scripture:

NIV Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

When I was 14, I had a Christian leader buy me a Coke that cost 50¢ in worldly wealth. I remember holding it and thinking how much value it had, what that act meant to me.

·         Can you remember a time when some gave you something that had great value to you, regardless of the cost?

Have them over for dinner, buy them a coffee or a beer. It’s all God’s money anyways.


But above all, you pay rent with your time. Our time is our most precious resource, and there is no substitution for it.

·         It takes time to get to know others and hear their stories

·         It takes time to invest in their lives.

·         It takes time for them to watch the Gospel at work in your life.


·         We use the expression “have margins in your life,” like setting the margins on a documents.

When I convert my sermon notes into a transcript, I try to get it on as few pages as possible. I will combine paragraphs and narrow the margins for it fits, but the end result is crowded and leave little room for making notes.

·         Is that what you life, your budget is like?

The words are pressed to the very max of what the printer allows, they’re printed in 4 point font; there’s no room left. You simple have no room to let anyone in. 

Q   How on earth can you be pay any relational rent like that?

·         Here is the key word: Sacrifice.

You just might need to give up a little TV, you might need to cut back on some solo activities.

Offering community

Another way to describe “paying relational rent” is we offer community. Community is one of the best things we as a church have to offer.

We live in one of the most isolated nations on the face of the earth, and we have reached a breaking point. You see it in the way that community is starting to become cool again.

·         Fraternities and clubs are coming back; you see a thirst and a hunger for community.

We offer a deeper community than the world can offer, because it is based on the Christ, the one who heals us, breaks down all barriers, and the source of all joy.  

Call to action

So again, one point: Develop and maintain relationships with non-Christians so you can share the Gospel in the context of relationship.

Here is what I want you to do with all of this:

Q   Do you know and care deeply enough for 3 non-Christians that you want them to find life, hope, and forgiveness in Jesus?

·         If the answer is “no,” why not? Think through the connection points and pray for God to help you build those relationships.

As you think through that, I want you to grab the sermon notes insert and the Communication Card. Write down their names on the sermon notes and take it home with you. Stick it on the fridge.

I know this may seem gimmicky to some of you, but there is something about taking an action that makes commitments stick.

·         Resolutions are more effective with they are specific and when there is accountability.

Now, I want you to commit to praying for them on a regular basis. If you agree, check the box on the back of the Card. You can write their names there if you want us to pray for them.  

·         Also take a look at other commitments on card.

When you pray:

·         Ask God to help you be in the world, not of it.

·         Ask God to help you pay the relational rent.

·         Pray for opportunities to demonstrate the Gospel and openings to talk about spiritual things.  

·         Finally, you need to prepare yourself for when God answers those prayers through you:

1 Peter 3:15   15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Q   How do you prepare?

It is not enough to demonstrate the Gospel, you have to be able articulate it as well. That is next week’s sermon.

Q & A


Facebook: Which is harder for American Christians: Remaining in the world or not being of the world?  Which is harder for you?

Communication card:

·         Pray for three non-Christian friends

Main Point(s) of sermon:

·         Create and Maintain relationships

·         Share the gospel with them

Objectives of sermon:


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