What Is Your Style?

What Is Your Style?

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Above Image by Mircea – See my collections from Pixabay

I finished a book titled “Contagious Faith” by Mark Mittelberg where is explains five common or natural styles of evangelism Christians have. 

When I first heard of this book on a podcast, I immediately thought of Gary Chapmans 5 Love Languages. Though they don’t correlate in any way, the five styles of evangelism are our go-to natural ways of sharing our faith, just as the various love languages resonate with each of us and are the most natural way we feel loved and secure. 

For most Christians, sharing their faith is daunting, even if they are serious about their beliefs. Besides, churches are full of nominal Christians who, aside from any particular Sunday, never discuss their faith with others. Couple that with their lifestyles, and sometimes, you can’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians, myself included. 

Most of us can relate to doing things our own way without giving any consideration to God. Like everyone, I want to live my life my way. I think back 50 years to Frank Sinatra’s hit song, I Did It My Way. My rules, my exceptions to the rules, bend them or break them as needed. 

Thankfully God can use us where we are, new or old Christian, actively sinning or walking in His forgiveness. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to clean up your act before God can use you. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. You will never lead a perfect, sinless life this side of Heaven, and if you are waiting to arrive at that spiritual level of enlightenment before you share your faith, you will have a long wait. 

We all want to do things that count, to make a difference in this world. We want to matter to others and positively impact their lives. In that process of working toward doing things that ‘really’ matter, we often get caught up in the things of this world and forget that the car, boat, motorcycle, house, etc. can’t go with us. Mittelberg points out, “Deep down, we all want our lives to count for things that last. But think about this: the only things in this world that we can take with us into eternity are people.”1

With that in mind, it would be good to know your natural style of evangelism. Mittelberg covers five styles, and I will briefly touch on each one. 

Friendship-Building 

Friendship builders enjoy being around people and, as a rule of thumb, get along with almost everyone. They would much rather hang out with some friends having some coffee, tea, or lunch together than go on a hike by themselves or spend any time alone. 

Some may like large groups of people, mingling in and out of the clusters in a large party. Others who are friendship-builders may prefer a smaller setting and focus on one or two people at a time, but the common denominator is being around others. 

Mittelberg gives the example of Luke 5:29 when Levi held a large banquet for Jesus in his home. People don’t have parties or banquets unless they enjoy being around people. If you read the whole chapter, you will see Jesus calling his first disciples. Simon Peter caught more fish than his boat could hold; Jesus healed a man with leprosy and a paralyzed man. Miracles were happening, and no doubt word was getting out, so when Jesus called Levi to follow Him, Levi did just that. Then he threw a party. Colossians 4:5

Mittelberg encourages those who are friendship-builders to not only start new ones but work on the old ones, something friendship-builders may not do naturally. There is an old saying in teaching circles that says, ‘Students don’t care what you know until they know that you care.’ A wise saying and applicable to this style of evangelism. In time as you develop a relationship, you can bridge the topics of conversations to spiritual ones.

Finally, I should point out you are not becoming someone’s friend so that you can share Jesus with them. Making friends is what this type does naturally. It is not forced, but they genuinely care about others and want to get to know them. Making friends is what they do naturally. 

Selfless-Serving

Those who have this natural style don’t like to be the center of attention, but they are tuned into the needs of others around them. Helping others feeds their soul much like friendship-builders are energized by being around people. Selfless servers are often working in the background and find joy and satisfaction in serving behind the scenes. Mittleberg puts it this way, “…because they are others-centered, they don’t mind serving without a spotlight or any kind of fanfare to keep them motivated. They find joy in simply serving…”2

Serving others and meeting their needs sends the message they are valuable and loved. Mittelberg shared the story of a wealthy Jewish man named Morris and his family that lost everything during Hurricane Harvey when it dropped about 60 inches of rain on Houston, Texas. A mother and her daughter named Grace reached out and began to help this Jewish family. Over the weeks and months, God’s love became evident through this woman and her daughter. The two families became close, and eventually, Morris and his family began to attend church with Grace and her mother and ultimately gave their lives to Christ. 

This kind of selfless serving often ministers to the hardest of hearts. Many of us sometimes serve with the hope of getting something in return, but those who serve selflessly and genuinely, serve others because it brings them joy and satisfaction. They set aside their concerns and worries about the world to help others. Mark 10:43 Philippians 2:3-4

A quality that is inherent to those who serve selflessly is empathy. They are sensitive to the needs of others and understand naturally what their needs may be. Over the years of teaching, I have met several teachers who would fall into this category, most of whom I have found in special education or working with special needs children. 

Often greatness is not measured in what you have but in what you give to others. 

Story-Sharing

Is it easy to share what is going on in your life with others? Do you look forward to telling someone about your day? Those with this style are good at telling stories. They generally are good at communicating and can share details and experiences with others and hold their interest. 

Many of us have a testimony, and Revelation 12:11 says that often spiritual battles are won because of our testimony. Testimonies are powerful, and I think of the 2017 movie, The Case for Christ where Lee Stroble, an atheist, came to believe in Christ due to his investigation of the claims that He rose from the dead.

J. Warner Wallace is another example of an atheist who shares his story in Cold-Case Christianity of being a cold-case homicide detective that decided to use the tools of his trade to bury the absurd claims of gospel accounts. 

Both of those men shared their stories and impacted millions with their experiences, which is one of the positives of the story-sharing approach. We live in a culture that often values experience or feelings over facts. Ben Shapiro wrote, Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings, a look at American politics and culture, but as our progressive culture evolves, and this is especially true in Gender Ideology, we are finding that feelings don’t care about the facts. 

Aside from the cultural shift, a scriptural example of the story-sharing style is found in John 9, when Jesus healed the blind man. The blind man, who had been healed by Jesus, was brought repeatedly before the religious leaders who did not believe him. He had already explained what happened twice, and even his parents were brought in to testify. He finally says, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” John 9:27 After that, the Jewish leaders just insulted him and accused him of being a follower of Jesus. The blind man shot back, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” John 9:30-33 

The Jewish leaders became angry, insulted him, said he was a sinner (my mom used to tell me once someone insults you, you have won the argument), and threw him out. 

Mittelberg points out that before any of this happened, Jesus’ disciples asked if the sin in the blind man’s life or the sin of his parents caused him to be blind. Back then, when someone was blind, it was believed to be due to sin in their life, but Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:3 Mittelberg writes, “I believe this included not just the restoration of his sight, but also the testimony this man would be to his fellow countrymen – especially to the religious leaders who were sure to take notice.”3

All of us have a story, a testimony we can share. If you are not a natural storyteller, you can use a simple three-part sequence to share yours. Think of your story in terms of what did you discover, what did you decide, and finally, what difference did that make in your life?

Reason-Giving

1 Peter 3:15 Is the apologists go to verse. People who fall into the reason-giving style of evangelism are often are more interested in what people think than what they feel about something. The montra, facts don’t care about your feelings resonates with the reason givers. Both Lee Strobel and J Warner Wallace are reason givers despite my example of their sharing their stories. So I will state the obvious, most of us will have more than one dominant style of evangelism. 

This is the style that suits me because when I have conversations with people, I always enjoy asking questions, and I am genuinely interested in what they know and why they believe it. 

The need for reason-giving is rising to new levels in our culture today. In 2011 David Kinnaman published You Lost Me looking at why Christians are leaving the church. He found that 59% of young adults leave the church and are no longer involved in any kind of Christian activities. Eight years later, after interviewing thousands, that rose to 64%.4

Another example can be found in the Pew Research Center. In 2012 75% of the U.S. population identified as Christian. Ten years later, 63% of Americans self-identify as Christian.((Smith, Gregory. “About Three-inTen U.S. Adults Are Now Religiously Unaffiliated.” Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, 14 December 2021, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2021/12/14/about-three-in-ten-u-s-adults-are-now-religiously-unaffiliated/))

John Stonestreet points out in his book, A Practical Guide to Culture that kids today are growing up in an information overload environment. “Access and exposure to new ideas are just a billboard, commercial, song lyric, or mouse click away. A questioning and spiritually vulnerable child who might never have encountered atheistic arguments in another day and age may very well come across a Richard Dawkins video on Facebook feed… That’s why it’s more critical than ever that parents, church leaders, and mentors create an environment where kids can ask tough questions and wrestle with controversial topics.”5

Jesus suggested to those who did not believe him to look at His works, His evidence, as reasons to believe He was the Son of God. See John 10:37-38. In other words, believe in what they saw, the miracles that Jesus performed. There are multiple examples of Jesus giving examples and reasons for doubters to believe in Him. 

When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one or should John be looking for another. Jesus’ response was to perform miracles and give evidence to John’s disciples and then told them to go back to John and report what they had seen and heard. Matthew 11:3-6 

Just remember, the goal is to win people, not arguments. 

Truth Telling

Those who are truth-tellers are often bold, confident, and direct with those they encounter. More often than not, they enjoy the encounter and are not afraid of conflict. They don’t like small talk or beating around the bush but say what they have to say and wait for a reaction. 

Peter was a truth-teller and the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem is an excellent example. The Jews were questioning the wonders of God and recognized that something supernatural was taking place. Peter stood and addressed the crowd. He was bold and direct, pointing out the miracles Jesus performed and how Jesus was handed over to the leaders and then put to death by nailing Him to a cross. 

Peter went on to explain that death had no hold on Jesus and God raised Him from the dead after three days. Peter quoted Old Testament passages that were references to Jesus and that He was the Lord and Messiah they were all waiting for. Peter ended his message with, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Acts 2:36 

Scripture records that God used Peter’s bold truth telling to bring over 3000 to Christ.

Another example was in Acts 4, when Peter and John were brought before the Jewish leaders and told not to talk about Jesus. What was their response? They asked which was right, to do what God tells them or what they tell them? Peter and John explained they couldn’t help but talk about what they had seen and heard. Acts 4:18-20

Someone once said evangelism is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. Mittelberg writes, “It reminds us that we are not better or smarter or more deserving than the other person – we’re just fortunate enough to have received a great spiritual blessing, along with the privilege of sharing it with others.”((Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pg. 140))

Those with this style can make the mistake of encouraging others to be bold when talking to others when it would make them uncomfortable. Every style has strengths and tools that can be used depending on the individual they are engaging or the situation they encounter. 

Most Christians will gravitate toward one of the styles I mentioned above. Learn what your style is and look for opportunities to use it. Ephesians 3:20-21 Naturally, those will work best because it is the one you are most comfortable with and enjoy using. Would you like to take a quick assessment and see which one is yours? You can take the simple assessment here and see what style fits your personality. 

 

  1. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pg. 5 []
  2. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pg. 65 []
  3. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached By God To Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Zondervan Reflective, 2021, pgs. 84-86 []
  4. Kinnaman, David. “Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64% But What About Those Who Stay?” Barna, barna.com, 4 September 2019, https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/ []
  5. Stonestreet, John. Kunkle, Brett. “The Information Age.” A Practical Guide To Culture, David C Cook, 2017, pg. 82 []

Comparing several religions

Reading Time: 4 minutesThe school year is over! The last few weeks, in particular the last couple weeks, have been a busy time with me. We had an awards ceremony toward the end of the year, (grades had to be completed for that), had to cram in the Constitution Test for my 8th graders, then a few more final assignments for the final report card. Then, last but not least, the 8th grade graduation for our school.

Working for a Charter School is quite the different animal than working for a public school. As with any job, you will have some advantages and disadvantages. I had been working on some other posts when I had a spare few minutes the past couple weeks, but thinking of the differences between the public school system, where I had worked for many years, and now employed by a charter school, encouraged me to consider the differences between Christianity and other religions or world views. So I want to take a few minutes and point out some significant differences. I learned a few things when I worked on this. Maybe you will too.

Key Persons/Founders/Time and Place
Christianity – Jesus Christ around 30AD, Israel within the Roman Empire
Jehovah’s Witnesses – Charles Taze Russel, 1852-1916, Brooklyn, New York
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Joseph Smith, Jr. 1805-1844, Rochester, New York
Christian Science – Mary Baker Eddy, 1821-1910, Boston, Massachusetts
New Age – Stems from several Eastern religions, popularized by Shirley MacLaine in the 1980’s and 1990’s
 

Key Sources for Doctrine
Christianity – The Bible, which includes Old and New Testament
Jehovah’s Witnesses – The Bible: New World Translation, Watchtower and Awake magazines
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the King James version of the Bible.
Christian Science – Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, Manual of the Mother Church, Christian Science Journal, and Christian Science Sentinel.
New Age – No specific sources, selected scriptures, and other Hindu, Buddhist, and Native American teachings or beliefs.
 

Who is God
Christianity – One in three persons, not three gods, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – One person called Jehovah. No Trinity. Jesus is the first thing Jehovah created.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – God was once a man who progressed to a god. He and his wife (Heavenly Mother) have physical bodies.
Christian Science – God is an non-personal principle of life, love, intelligence and spirit. Matter is an illusion.
New Age – Depending on who you talk to, everything and everyone is God. People have unlimited inner power (the force 😉 ) to discover and use.
 

Who is Jesus
Christianity – The second person of the Trinity, fully God and fully man. He has always existed, and according to God’s plan, He is the sacrifice as a payment for our sins.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – He was Michael the archangel. On earth, he was a man who lived a perfect life and was resurrected as a spirit, who returned in 1914.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – He was a spirit child created by Father (Elohim) and Mother. His body was created by a sexual encounter with Mary and Elohim. Jesus was married and his sacrifice does not provide full pardon for our sins, but only a resurrection.
Christian Science – Jesus was a man who only lived perfection. Christ means perfection. Jesus was not a God, and God cannot become a man. Christ did not suffer and could not suffer for our sins.
New Age – He was a spiritual model, teacher, guru and became a master who used the inner divine power to attain great wisdom. Some believe he traveled to India or Tibet and learned many more mystical truths and eventually rose to a higher spiritual realm.
 

How to be Saved
Christianity – Salvation is by the grace of God and has nothing to do with our efforts or works, because everyone will come up short to the Glory of God. Believe that Jesus died for our sins, physically rose again.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – Be baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness. You will earn a possible salvation (salvation is limited to 144,000) by door to door evangelism.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Resurrected by grace, but only saved by works. Works include faithfulness to church leaders, tithing, Mormon baptism, and secret temple rituals. To be saved, you must be a member of the Mormon church.
Christian Science – Humanity is already saved eternally. Sin, evil, sickness, and death are only an illusion.
New Age – Again depending on who you talk to, salvation may be attained through meditation, self-awareness, spirit guides. Have more positive karma than negative karma, and eventually through reincarnation you will reach perfection or become one with god or the universal energy.
 

What happens after Death
Christianity – After death, everyone waits for the final judgment and both believers and non-believers will be resurrected. Believers saved by grace and Christ’s gift will spend eternity in heaven, non-believers will spend eternity in hell, separated from God.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – The 144,000 will live as spirits in heaven.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Most will go to one of three heavens and some will earn godhood. The rest will be banished to the outer darkness.
Christian Science – Death is not real. Heaven and hell are not real.
New Age – Many believe in reincarnation, and that cycle will continue till one reaches perfection or harmony with god. No heaven or hell.
 

Other Practices
Christianity – Baptism, Communion, voluntary missionary work.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – They do not observe holidays or birthdays. Not allowed to vote, salute the flag, or work in the military. Blood transfusions are not permitted. Meetings at their Kingdom Halls 5 days a week.
Mormonism (Latter-day Saints) – Secret rituals and celestial marriage for members in good standing. They do not allow tobacco or alcohol use. Two year missionary work is common. Emphasis on education with many colleges in Mexico and the South Pacific.
Christian Science – Since matter is an illusion, they use Christian Science practitioners for healing. Claims of miraculous healing is common in the Christian Science Monitor.
New Age – Meditation, visualization, astrology, channeling, hypnosis, trances, tarot cards, and use of crystals are common practices for New Age believers. Efforts toward world peace, belief in self and the inner goodness of human kind will overpower the darker side of ourselves.
 

Sources
Christianity Cults and Religions pamphlet by Rose publishing.
The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin.
So What’s the Difference by Fritz Ridenour.

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