“I’m one of Dr. Martin’s* patients.” The woman wearing blue jeans, an off white wool sweater, and black tennis shoes, smiled as she introduced herself to me in the church lobby.
She wasn’t the first of Dr. Martin’s patients I had met on a Sunday morning. In fact over the last several years I had met a half dozen of her patients. All of them were excited to be at church. All of them were proud to share who had invited them.
Dr. Martin had this habit of getting to know the people who came to the office. She’d learn about their families, their marriages, their friendships. She knew whether or not they had grandchildren, how they liked to spend their free time, and whether or not they were lonely.
Occasionally she would reach out with questions about programs at the church and how someone might get involved. With permission she’d swap contact information on behalf of others. She made lots of invitations. Dr. Martin embodies relational evangelism.
Relational Evangelism is one of our core values here at ALIVE, and it means we “intentionally leverage our influence in the world for the purpose of introducing people to the transforming love of Christ” (alivewesleyan.com/core-values). This happens when people like Dr. Martin reach out to the people around them. During any given week teachers, engineers, professors, nurses, lineworkers, customer service representatives, coaches, small business owners, and stay-at-home moms from ALIVE love the people around them and point those people to Jesus.
We are building this relational evangelism value at ALIVE through our 4D process. Our 4D classes are moving people toward missional living. People walk out of our classes more confident and excited to share Jesus wherever they are at. In fact this is one of the goals of all of our discipleship at ALIVE. Whether someone is a part of a small group, a financial class, a Sunday School, or serving, our hope is that their love for Jesus and the people around them is growing, that they are finding themselves sharing that love with people around them. And when that happens, whole communities change.
We’ve seen this on a small scale over the last several years through our school system. Teachers, administrators, and students who love Jesus have started leveraging their influence to point people to the love of Jesus. And as a result doors have opened in the school system, kids have been paired with mentors, and students are starting and joining prayer groups. And who knows how this might impact our community over time. So whether we are like Dr. Martin loving and inviting patients or a student praying for a friend at school—we’re living out relational evangelism. And as we do, we are watching God impact people all around us.
*Name changed to protect privacy