Did you know that 70% of all youth leave the church after high school?
Did you know that a high percent of Christians have no idea how to witness to their skeptical friends?
The Need for Pre-Evangelism
Most of us have been trained in various forms of evangelism but might not be familiar with the “Art of Conversational Pre-Evangelism.” Perhaps you have never even heard of the term, “pre-evangelism”. Simply put, there is a certain set of skills and sensitivity that, when possessed by a Christian, will effectively lower our lost friends’ intellectual, cultural, and emotional barriers to the Gospel. In many instances, BEFORE our lost friends can even “hear the Gospel”, these barriers must be overcome. Conversational Pre-Evangelism is a proven technique and methodology that does just that and also creates greater openness among our non-Christian friends to actually hear the gospel.
Think about this: How can we proclaim the Good News to someone who:
- does not believe he/she is a sinner (morality is relative) and therefore sees no need for a Savior?
- is very happy with himself/herself and really not interested in good news.
- believes that he or she can measure up.
- believes that all the ways eventually lead to one true God.
- believes that he or she is God.
The world is full of people who ascribe to one or more of those beliefs and reaching them might seem next to impossible to some believers. Not only do we, as believers, need His touch and the presence of the Holy Spirit, but we also must be wise in how we reach out to others (Col. 4:5). For those who might be shy, or unable to adequately and properly express their faith, and/or the love of the Lord, this training also relaxes and equips the believer to be as effective as possible.
So, how did the pre-Evangelism concept and training first get started?
In 1994 in the US, Campus Crusade for Christ saw a need to approach graduate students in a different way when it became obvious that a simple gospel approach did not work very well with those who were indifferent or skeptical towards Christianity. I (David) was hired to help develop this new approach and what I discovered after five years with Campus Crusade was that it wasn’t just graduate students that were skeptical. In fact, a new generation of doubters and non-believers had risen who needed special attention to their objections and sensitivities. In 2000, God gave me a burden to start Meekness and Truth Ministries, to teach Christians this new art form called Conversational Pre-Evangelism, which creates many more open doors for evangelism. In 2009 this training material was published in a book by Harvest House called Conversational Evangelism: How To Listen and Speak So You May Be Heard. It has been translated into Chinese, Indonesian, Korean, and Slovakian. In Jan. 2015 I partnered with my dad (Norm Geisler) to start the Norm Geisler International Ministries.
What is Pre-Evangelism?
Witnessing used to involve laying out the truth and guiding a person to understand and accept it. But the awareness of basic Christian principles has changed and so have the needs of “pre-believers.” If evangelism is planting seeds of the gospel, pre-evangelism is tilling the soil of their mind and heart, preparing them to at least be willing to listen to the Truth in partnership with the Holy Spirit (Mark 4:8). It raises curiosity in the mind of the hearers so that they become interested. This Conversational Pre-Evangelism methodology involves asking thought provoking questions that surface uncertainty, minimizes their defensiveness, and yet creates a sense of curiosity to hear more about Jesus or at least continue the conversation.
Greater opportunities for direct evangelism are created by learning and adhering to a pre-evangelism paradigm containing four parts and the four different roles we play that lead to direct opportunities for evangelism.
The four parts to Conversational Pre-Evangelism are: Hearing, Illuminating, Uncovering, and Building.
The corresponding four different roles we play are:
- The role of a Musician: listening carefully and also hearing the gaps in their beliefs e.g. (Morality is a personal preference)
- The role of an Artist: painting a picture for others by asking thought provoking questions that help people to see themselves in a more true light.
- The role of an Archaeologist: digging beneath the surface to uncover their real barriers to the Gospel.
- The role of a Builder: finding common ground, building a bridge and looking for opportunities to move from pre-evangelism to direct evangelism.
Once interest has been created, just like the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, it can lead more easily to direct evangelism. Now once someone learns the art of Conversational Evangelism, they can more easily combine it with greater training in the area of apologetics and be more fruitful in their witness to others.
How can I learn more?
For the past 15 years I have been conducting C.P.E. Seminars throughout the world. For seven years Norm Geisler International Ministries (formerly Meekness and Truth Ministries) has trained Christian ministries, seminary students, and church and lay leaders all over Asia in this art called Conversational Pre-Evangelism. In July, 2011, I moved our ministries headquarters from Singapore to the United States in order to expand the vision. With a passion for people, I share an engaging, conversational approach to evangelism and address:
- Why we don’t have a greater heart to reach those around us.
- What makes old models of witnessing ineffective in today’s culture.
- Why evangelism must start with relational pre-evangelism.
- How to ask questions, listen attentively, and understand what someone believes.
- How to engage others pre-evangelistically and keep their interest.
- Ways to identify the real barriers to belief in order to build a bridge to the Truth.
Please prayerfully consider how Norm Geisler International Ministries might partner with your church and or ministry to advanced God’s kingdom.
Dr. David Geisler
President, Norm Geisler International Ministries