Evangelism Is…Reaching People Through Relationships, Part 1 (The Soul-Winning Motivator #66)

Our soul winning verse from the Word of God today is John 13:34-35 which reads: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Allow me to share with you some important insights regarding this Scripture from David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible:

The specific ancient Greek word used here for new, implies freshness, or the opposite of outworn, rather than recent or different. It isn’t that this commandment was just invented, but it will be presented in a new, fresh way.

Whereas the Old Testament demanded that men should love their neighbors as themselves, the New Law is that they should love the brethren better than themselves, and die for their friends.

The command to love wasn’t new; but the extent of love just displayed by Jesus was new, as would be the display of the cross. Love was newly defined from His example.

Love is the mark of the fellowship of true believers, and all other criteria are strictly secondary.

Our soul winning quote today is from Claude King. He said: “If every believer reached his or her concentric circles, the whole world could be drawn to Christ.”

Our soul winning devotional is part 49 of our series titled “What Evangelism Is” from Dave Earley and David Wheeler.

Evangelism Is…Reaching People Through Relationships

Oscar Thompson was a pastor for 20 years before joining the faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, as professor of evangelism. Before dying of cancer in 1980, Oscar left a treasure of wisdom, at least in rough form, for those of us charged with sharing the gospel and making disciples. Shortly after Thompson’s death, his wife, Carolyn, compiled his manuscript and published Concentric Circles of Concern. In 1999 Claude King and Carolyn worked together to revise and expand the original text.

Thompson’s notion of relational evangelism is a helpful way of understanding and explaining how God reaches people with the gospel through relationships. Simply put, “He (God) wants to love your world through you and to draw it to Him.”

It Is Who You Know As Christians, each of us occupies circle 1: “Self.” We are surrounded by people we can influence with the message of Christ. These people fall into any of six concentric circles around us.

The closest circle to us is our “Immediate Family” in circle 2, followed by our “Relatives” in circle 3, and our “Friends” in circle 4. “If our relationship with the Lord is genuine,” Thompson says, “we will want to share the good news of Christ with those closest to us.” Circle 5 includes “Neighbors and Associates,” followed by “Acquaintances” in circle 6. The outermost ring, circle 7, represents strangers, which the author refers to as Person X.

While the initial focus of Thompson’s approach was to encourage Christians to seek out “Person X” intentionally, Thompson observed another more powerful phenomenon. More often those in his classes were reaching people in their first three circles – family, friends, and neighbors. He observed that this “happened only as God’s people were led to share the gospel with the people they were closest to.” He found that we reach people through relationships.

In our next broadcast, we will continue looking at why evangelism is…Reaching People Through Relationships


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