What is the "silver bullet" for fulfilling Christ's command to go and make disciples? Here it is: the most effective evangelism, by far, occurs through meaningful relationships between Christians and non-Christians.
Did you know that over twice as many non-Christians come to Christ through relationships with Christian friends or relatives than all other reasons combined?
Jesus modeled this disciple-making silver bullet (cf. Mark 5:19, Luke 19:9, Mark 2:14-15). The word for "household" in the New Testament refers to a person's close friends as well as their work associates. It referred to servant's families who lived there (cf. Acts 16:31). The early Christians knew that when the message of faith was heard and demonstrated by friends and family who were known and trusted...receptivity to the Gospel increased tremendously.
There is one essential requirement for reaching our friends and neighbors: we must be close enough to unbelievers for Christ to be observed and experienced through us. And there's the rub. The longer we are in the church, the fewer friends we have outside the church. Most of us have very few close friends who are non-Christians.
One reason that 85% of today's churches are not growing is that the social networks of people in the church are almost entirely within the church. Some churches even encourage relational isolation.
Here's the solution to this problem: we have to enter the non-Christian's world and be like Jesus to them. You cannot be Christ-like to them if you don't know any nonbelievers. You must have contact to have impact.
We need friends who are tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19) like Jesus had. We need to be friends with non-Christians. We need to hang out with the riff-raff of the world. Jesus did. So must we.
This week we all (especially me) must be friends, make friends, and invest in the non-Christian. How can Christ's missional task "make disciples" be accomplished if we aren't investing our lives with the people in the world? Who will you be friends with this week?
P.S. This Sunday, our Pastor of Young Adults and Families, Brian Abbott, will be preaching! You'll want to be there! Invite a friend and we'll see you at 9:00 or 10:30am.