In the last posts, I introduced the Modes of Evangelism (article & video). Here I center in on the first mode: Body Witness.
The body of Christ can have a powerful witness when it is gathered together and functioning in a healthy manner. A healthy community of believers grows in Christ through speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15, 16). This experience of authentic love and truth is what people genuinely desire. As they experience the fellowship of the body, they have opportunity to hear gospel truth explained and applied to life. They also see gospel love lived out in relationship.
God often uses this experience of gospel love and truth to draw people to himself. This may happen in formal gatherings; it may also occur in informal settings. But the love and truth of a healthy body of believers will have a profound witness to those who experience it.
Jesus underscored the importance of the witness of the body. He indicated that our love for one another would be the evidence to all men that we are his disciples (John 13:34-35). He prayed for our unity, knowing that through it the world would recognize that he was sent as the Messiah (John 17:22-23). So when the early church devoted itself to one another in healthy Christian community, it enjoyed “the favor of all the people and there was added to their numbers daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
How does a leader expand the body witness?
First, one must tend to the quality of fellowship, ensuring that it is a healthy environment for seekers to experience the gospel. This doesn’t mean everything must be oriented around the seeker. But it does mean that there is intentionality in creating an environment full of grace and truth, appropriate for anyone.
Second, the leader must increase the opportunity for those who are open and seeking to be exposed to the body. This will normally happen through relationships, as believers invite others into body activities. But it is not limited to personal invitations. A public presence and outward communication strategies have been vehicles God has used to usher many into body experiences.
As the witness of the body expands, many come to faith through it. The community of believers provides an environment for spiritual process and growth to take place. People have time and relational support to process new insights into the gospel and its implications. When they come to Christ, they are already involved and relationally connected. They have already passed through a barrier that those reached outside the body will have to later cross. Belonging before believing is a powerful pathway to the gospel.
But it is limited, as well. Body witness can only impact those who are close enough to see the body in action or brave enough to enter. Thus, body witness normally reaches only those who are spiritually seeking or relationally connected. Generally, that is a small percentage of the people in need. Large, diverse populations (such as a campus or community) cannot be fully reached through body witness alone. The other two modes must also be employed. (Coming soon.)
Excerpt from Evangelism Design.