Helping people connect with Christ is more a process than it is an event. This process includes friendship, the integrity of Christian character, a loving community, and time [to] process the implications of Christ’s Lordship.
The drumbeat of statistics over the years reveals that 75-90% of those who have come to Christ and faithfully continue in their discipleship were introduced to the Christian faith through believing friends and relatives; this personal connection to the gospel came through love, acceptance, and a modeling of the Christian faith.
While we are to be responsible witnesses, we mustn’t diminish God’s sovereignty on this score either. Will God put people into hell just because of our human failure (of the Christian witness)? Too often the “what if he dies tomorrow?” idea can often creates a forced “witness”... Relationships that respect the process, trust the Holy Spirit, and allow people time to think through the implications of the Christian faith are (statistically speaking) far more effective and long-lasting than the short-term, “I must tell him now or else” approach.
Those touched by Jesus knew that he first was genuinely interested in them. Perhaps that friend-of-sinners approach has something going for it! The confrontational method diminishes the listening and unfolding process involved in evangelism. The gospel should be expressed in a holistic and relational manner. Otherwise it more often than not appears to be a judgmental sales pitch.
Jesus and other authorities in the New Testament don’t necessarily bring up sin at the outset, and they may in fact first “dangle the benefits of salvation” before them!
To reach people, we shouldn’t diminish the gravity of sin; rather, we should walk in the way of the Master, whose earthly ministry earned him the reputation of being a “friend of sinners.” May the same be said of us redeemed sinners as well!