Appreciative Inquiry Evangelism: LISTENING

Back in 2007, I introduced a new way of doing evangelism, what I called "Appreciative Inquiry Evangelism (AIE)." Instead of starting out with the premise that each person we interact with is a sinner, AIE starts out with the premise that every human being is a wonderful creation, created as God's image-bearer. It does not deny the Fall and sinfulness; it just refuses to start our conversations there. The motivation of AIE is to appreciate people, affirming their past and present strengths and successes. AIE allows us to value people as human beings first rather than as merely possible candidates to become Christians. It looks at people with a different lens: instead of seeing people as inherently flawed, we see them with inherent potential.

AIE's purpose is to interact with people in order to help them explore and discover those potentialities and possibilities that God wants to flourish in them. We seek to introduce each person to the Redeemer of all things, Jesus Christ, who wants to restore each and every one of us to our image-bearing glory.

As I've been practicing AIE, I've found people to be more open to talking about God, Jesus, and purpose in the redemption found in Him.

Another major difference between AIE and other ways of doing evangelism that I've attempted is that it is based on listening instead of talking. We take ourselves out of the equation - it is not about what I can do in that person's life. We ask questions, seeking to understand what God is already doing in a person's life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us of how important this is:
__"The first service that one owes to others... consists in listening to them.
__Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening...
__Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they would share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God." (Life Together, pp. 97-99)


porter said...

Being created in the image of God is for ALL his creation not just those who believe. A good conversation to see how that individual interacts in light of that is very enlightening.

Brian Johnson said...

Your post made me think.

I tend to talk more, when I should be listening more in evangelism!

My British website on the gospel:

What Is The Gospel?

Robert said...


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Rebecca said...

How exciting to see us as God sees us through the lens of the cross. Redemptive acts restore. All the failed potential of those seeking to stamp out evil within rather than celebrate God's creative power is truly sad.

I found my agnostic and atheistic friends far more empowered, creative and productive and often more happy than my Christian family. That tells me, somehow, somewhere, the whole of the Good News stopped short at the "what vile sinners we are" message. I'm excited as much for myself, a believer, to know God's listening and involved and wishes to bring me into a full and mature relationship that celebrates my full potential as a human.