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Barrs’ Seven Principles of Evangelism

I recently finished Jerram Barrs’ The Heart of Evangelism, which concludes with seven principles of evangelism as evidenced in Paul’s ministry. I hope these are helpful for you as a reminder and encouragement:

  1. Show respect. “We can never look down on anyone as unworthy of our love, honor and respect of we would be disqualifying ourselves.” (194) “So often as Christians we behave as if we everything to give to the non-Christian and nothing to receive.” (199)
  2. Build bridges for the Gospel. “[Unbelievers] are in the image of God because that is the way God made them. Consequently, there will always be contact points for the believer to find.” (206) “Every human being is religious in the sense that he or she puts his or her trust in something…The challenge for us is to find out where the person’s trust lies.” (208)
  3. Understand what others’ believe. “…caricaturing or misrepresenting the ideas of unbelievers will be no help to us. It will simply alienate people, for they will rightly be offended by our failure to treat their beliefs seriously. As well as failing to show respect, we will make our work more difficult by unnecessarily wounding their pride.” (212)
  4. Speak the right language. “Evangelism that bypasses understanding runs the risk of offending people and turning them away from Christ.” (237) “The New Testament challenges us to express God’s unchanging truth in language of our time rather than in the language of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries or even of the early part of the twentieth century.” (242)
  5. Employ reasoned persuasion. “If we reflect on this thoughtful use of language by the apostles, it is evident that they were building a carefully reasoned presentation of the truth to their hearers.” (245)
  6. Clarify the Good News. “…accommodating ourselves to our hearers is precisely what all faithful communication of the Gospel must be, for the Gospel itself – God becoming flesh for us – is the greatest imaginable accommodation to those who need to be saved!” (261) “…the task is always the same, to give a wise word that will assist the understanding of non-Christians.” (265)
  7. Challenge the heart and mind. “…the Gospel will always be experienced as a challenge…It will challenge our heart, for our hearts are devoted to many masters in place of the one true Lord. Any faithful communication of the Gospel must come with this challenge. In fact, it is appropriate to assert that if there is no challenge, there is no genuine presentation of the Gospel.” (267-268)
Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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