Relational Evangelism: Does It Work?

How to reach the people you love with gospel truth

Oct 3, 2023

Bethany Lockett

BSF Editorial Assistant

Eight-year-old Lakhvir Kaur listened to her friend Stephanie talk about Jesus like He was her best friend. He sounded so amazing that Lakhvir wondered if she could meet Him too. She kept her questions to herself, but never forgot Stephanie’s love for Jesus. 

In college, Lakhvir often discussed faith with her classmate Joel. She wondered why Joel seemed so fulfilled by prayer, Bible study, and church while she felt so dissatisfied with Sikhism, her religion.  

As a young adult, Lakhvir grew more and more curious about Jesus. She reached out to a local pastor, who gave her a Bible, invited her to church, and connected her to a BSF class. Her church and BSF communities faithfully answered her questions and loved her as she began to develop faith in Christ.  

“Just like in the gospel of John, these people took someone they cared about and brought them to Jesus,” Lakhvir says. 

We often believe that the key to evangelism is finding the right strategy, the correct words, or the perfect argument to bring someone to saving faith. But the heart of evangelism is not a path; it is a person. Our calling is to introduce the people around us to Jesus—the living source of our faith.  

{

The heart of evangelism is not a path; it is a person.

{

How do I interest people in Christ?

Lakhvir grew up in the Sikh religion, which was passed down to her from her parents, who immigrated to Texas from India. She remembers going to temple and faithfully following the principles of their religion as a child. But still, something was missing.  

“I just had this need to know God, to be religious. I can’t explain it, but I think I was looking for a relationship,” Lakhvir remembers. 

When she heard Christians talk about God, she noticed that they had personal, intimate relationships with Him. Her friends told her about speaking to God, being loved by God, and seeing God at work in their lives. Lakhvir wanted that relationship, and she only saw it in Christianity.  

Because God is our creator, we all have a deep longing for Him that nothing else can satisfy. When we think of relational evangelism, we may think that our actions are all that matter. While people may witness the impact of faith in our lives, our courage to talk about Jesus gives them the opportunity to respond.  

{

Because God is our creator, we all have a deep longing for Him that nothing else can satisfy.

{

How do we support new believers?

Relational evangelism continues even after a person professes faith. After Lakhvir believed in Jesus, she still had questions. What did it mean to follow Jesus? What should she do now? How could she begin to understand the Bible?  

“My first year in BSF was intimidating. I’d never even had a Bible … I didn’t say a word. All I could do was soak it in, because I thought my answers were going to be totally wrong,” Lakhvir remembers.  

Lakhvir’s advice for supporting new believers or seekers, especially in BSF, is to start by buying them a Bible (if no one else has) and then meet with them one-on-one to help them understand it. 

In Lakhvir’s experience, she struggled to participate in large group discussions. In a more personal environment, however, she felt comfortable asking questions and gained confidence in understanding God’s Word.  

Today, Lakhvir is serving in her first year as a Substitute Teaching Leader. As a former Group Leader, she helped members grow from quietly soaking in new knowledge to fully engaging with their small groups.  

How do we encourage struggling believers?

Lakhvir had been a Christian for a few years when she met her fiancé, Rusty. When he unexpectedly passed away, she relied on the strength and faith of other believers. “That grief could have choked me,” she says. Instead, Lakhvir remembers, “All the women in BSF reached out to me. I felt beloved in the arms of the Lord, not just in prayers but in everything through these women.”  

Her future mother-in-law, also a BSF member, had now lost both her sons and loved Lakhvir as her own daughter. Without these fellow believers, Lakhvir does not know how she could have remained steadfast in her faith.  

“I opened up my Bible and I continued wherever I had left off. I’m just sitting there crying, but praising God and I can’t even remember why. Why am I praising God in this moment? I couldn’t help it, my soul was just praising God. That is the importance of being in the Word, of having that relationship.” 

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:35

When we engage in relational evangelism, we recognize that sharing our faith is not a one-time event. Instead, our lives are dedicated to loving the people around us. 

In John 13:34-35, Jesus Himself shared our greatest evangelism tool when He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

About the Author

Bethany Lockett is an editorial assistant at Bible Study Fellowship Headquarters. She is a third generation BSFer and native Texan. She joined BSF after graduating from Wheaton College where she studied spiritual discipleship in a digital world.

Related Articles

How to Seek Jesus While We Wait on Him

Living for Jesus in Everyday LifeBSF Executive DirectorHave you ever struggled through a season of waiting—feeling stuck between God's work in the past and His promise for the future? Two years ago, I faced a particularly difficult situation I couldn’t solve on my...

Don’t Wait Until Next Easter

Living for Jesus in Everyday LifeGuest ContributorI live in downtown Philadelphia, and when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, the celebration was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Tens of thousands of people spilled into the streets late at night to...

The Final Words of Jesus

Three reasons peace can be yours today Guest Contributor “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  These are the final words spoken by Jesus on the cross.  The heartbreak of false accusations, betrayal, abandonment, and the crowds cheering for crucifixion have...

3 Lessons from a Brutal Cross

Three reasons peace can be yours today Guest Contributor The cross.   It’s a symbol revered all over the world. We put crosses inside church sanctuaries and on our worship facilities. Some churches are built in the shape of a cross.   We put crosses at graveyards....

Invite a friend to join BSF

Find your class and click ‘invite a friend.’

Submit a Comment

Our BSF staff approves each comment to maintain privacy and security. It may take 24-48 hours for your comment to be posted. Be sure to check back for replies from the author or other BSF members!

18 Comments

  1. Relational Evangelism is always for me a challenge (telling GOSPEL one person to one person!), so I relentlessly ask the Lord to fortify my faith:
    – 1/ I remain in the true Word: “He has set eternity in the heart of men “(Ecclesiastes 3:11)
    – 2/ When I see that the heart was touched I often proclaim the Word that the person to whom I have told about JESUS ( and me too !) have this capacity to love as Paul wrote in Romans 5:5. Thank you GOD the HOLY SPIRIT! May we Believers have the challenge in loving one another to obey our Lord.

    Reply
  2. I appreciate both articles, especially as one who is shy and fearful about sharing my faith. I do want to share 2 experiences that I had that made me realize that God uses all kinds of personalities and that he is at work even when I don’t see it. We lived in a high rise flat next door to another family for 5 years and had only small talk interaction with them, but one day the wife was locked out and we invited her into our flat to wait for her husband to come home. She enjoyed playing games with my daughter while she waited. A few days later I was on the elevator with her and she shared with me how empty she’d felt since retiring. She said that she could see a peace and love in our family that was not in her own and she felt she needed God in her life. I was utterly stunned and couldn’t imagine what she had seen, because those 5 years were such tumultuous years for us–anything but peaceful, it seemed to me. That neighbor did soon after believe in Christ and it still gives me joy to know that we convey something to others not just through our words but through our lives.s

    Reply
    • What a beautiful story, Sue! Thank you for sharing with us.

      Reply
  3. So good to hear these stories of these accepting Christ, and the huge part that the patient relationships had been in bringing them to that decision. My husband and I returned from a 3 week trip to another country where we had encountered the lost everywhere in the cities and in friends’ homes and gatherings. The longer we stayed with them, the more they asked questions about Jesus, how to read the Bible, etc. We are now feeling burdened by the need time to invest in relationships with them for the “long haul”. We have lifelong friends there who aren’t Christians…yet. Since we’re retired, we are seeking now how to go back to them and introduce Bible Study Fellowship; to just be with them. Thanks for letting me share our burden to love relationally with you.

    Reply
    • Donise, thank you for sharing! Your heart to share Jesus is inspiring!

      Reply
  4. What a beautiful testimony of God’s redeeming love!

    Reply
  5. I have a long-standing non-Christian friend: we live in the city where George Muller built orphanages in the 19th Century. The buildings have been re-purposed, but they remain as a testimony to George’s life of faith: he asked God alone to supply the funds for these huge stone buildings, and for the needs of the orphans who lived in them. He also prayed for his non-Christian friends – for at least one, this prayer only came to fruition at George Muller’s funeral.

    Years ago, near the start of our friendship, my non-Christian friend said “You’ll never convert me! Or my children!!” At that time, the remark really stung. I knew it was the Holy Spirit who would do the converting, but I felt hampered in sharing my faith with her. Then I realised I needed to be in it for the “long game”.

    God has put our two families together and deliberately intertwined our lives (our two eldest, now in their early 30’s, were born 5 1/2 weeks apart, and went to pre- and elementary school together).

    Just last month, my friend’s mother died. She was a Christian and was very emphatic about what she wanted for her funeral service.

    I was the person my friend turned to to work out how best to fulfil her mother’s wishes; I was in the car with the family, travelling to the funeral, when they grilled me about all sorts of Bible topics…..

    I’d love to be able to report that there’s been a miraculous conversion for the whole family, but I sense that God has a “slow build” policy for them. Praise God, He is enabling me to be patient around this building work. Lakhvir’s testimony is a great encouragement to me to live my life of faith in front of this family (occasionally being explicit where God specifically directs me to be), trusting Him for the outcome – even if it only comes at MY funeral.

    Reply
    • Nicola – thank you so much for sharing. I can certainly relate to being in “the long game” through prayer, sharing, and years hoping! Your story reminds me to endure. Praying for you and your friend!!

      Reply
  6. BSF is the best thing I have ever got involved in, in my few years being a Christian. As long as I have breath in my lungs, and strength in my body and God willing, I want to continue my journey of discovering truths in the Bible through fellowship with such amazing women. Thank you BSF leaders for all that you do.

    Reply
  7. I am so grateful for this year’s study in John.It has already made me more mindful about sharing Christ and I’m excited about becoming more in love with Jesus.

    Reply
  8. this is my 3rs BSF study. The chapters of John are so wonderful.
    I love BSF and all my sisters in Christ.

    Linda K Long – Greenville SC

    Reply
  9. Great article. Enjoyed reading!

    Reply
    • Bethany,
      That is a great story!!! Thank you so much for sharing it.

      Reply
  10. I’ve been wondering about this for a while and maybe you can help me. When you use the lord’s name in vain. Sometimes when something happens, I say. Oh, my God, is that using the Lord’s name in vain?

    Reply
    • Hi Martha! Thank you for your question. This seems like a great conversation to have with your BSF discussion group and group leader. We encourage you to reach out to them or another trusted believer.

      Reply
    • For what purpose did you say the words? Oh my God what is spiritual if not, I think in my humble opinion that it is spoken in vain, only God can answer this question.

      Reply
  11. You have such a beautiful testimony! Thanks for sharing it and for your leadership in bringing others into a relationship to God. We often forget it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship God wants!

    Reply
  12. This is so powerful!
    Thank you Lakhvir & Bethany for sharing the progression and how He uses even an 8 year old, a message. A pastor, a BSF group, a mourning Mother-in-law. Teach us Lord how to love one another and make You known.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This