Appreciative Inquiry Evangelism

The way we’ve been sharing the gospel with people is through the means of telling them they are sinners in need of a savior. While this is very true for all of us, it is not the best way, all the time, for sharing the gospel.

What if we reframe the gospel presentation around the fact that the gospel is “good news?” What if we approached people in a way that will open them up to the grace and love and hope found in Jesus Christ rather than immediately putting them on the defensive?

In the following posts, I am going to apply a new way of interacting with people (especially in the business world), called Appreciative Inquiry,” to the task of evangelism. This paradigm shift has a lot of potential for evangelism.

Think about sharing the gospel with someone in a paradigm that embraces these two words:

  • Ap-pre’ci-ate, v., 1. valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems 2. to increase in value, e.g. the economy has appreciated in value. Synonyms: VALUING, PRIZING, ESTEEMING, and HONORING.
  • In-quire’, v., 1. the act of exploration and discovery. 2. To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities. Synonyms: DISCOVERY, SEARCH, and SYSTEMATIC EXPLORATION, STUDY.

What if we saw people not primarily as sinners, but as image-bearers? How would our evangelism look different if we appreciated all people, affirming their past and present strengths and successes? What if we valued people as human beings first rather than as merely possible candidates to become Christians? What if instead of seeing people as inherently flawed that we saw them with inherent potential?

What if our interaction with people helped them explore and discover those potentialities and possibilities that God wants to flourish in them? What if we could introduce them to the Redeemer of all things, Jesus Christ, who wants to restore us to our image-bearing glory? What if we framed the gospel around a desired destiny rather than a defeatist depravity?

In the coming month, I will be posting ideas as to how to apply Appreciative Inquiry to emerging church outreach. This “Appreciative Inquiry Evangelism” (AIE) can revolutionize the way we share the gospel in a postmodern culture.

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Evangelism Coach said...

You may have a good line of thought going here. I'll return to see how it plays out.

I just finished reading the Logic of Evangelism that defines evangelism in terms of initiation into the kingdom of God, or helping people discover their place in the kingdom (purpose of life).

His pitch doesn't down play sin, or avoid sin, but doesn't start with sin.

Paul's approach at Athens started with some appreciation: "I see that you are very religious." In other words, we are somewhat alike. . . .

Pastor Chris

ScottB said...

Great thoughts. I think too often we who are from evangelical traditions present the gospel in a way that could be heard as, "You suck. You need to come follow Jesus so that he can help you suck less."

And we wonder why we don't get a lot of interest!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Bob, I like this approach and look forward to your unfolding of it. There is a sense that the good news Jesus brings does deal with a problem and really problems across the board of all creation. We are Eikons, cracked ones at that. Really both aspects shouldn't be that hard for people to grasp one would think.

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Alex said...

I will try to follow your tips! Thank you!