In light of going out to share the gospel more and more recently, I found a blog from one of my favorite blog sites. http://oldtruth.com
Jim Bublitz explains the style of “The Way of The Master” evangelism, the pros and the cons of Ray Comforts style. I have always been always a little wary of The Way of the Master stuff because of my fear of it being disingenuous and insincere when sharing Christ. God’s not a gimmick or even for sale. However they have some great ways to equip believers in an non rote manner and confront them with the truth of the bible. As always cling to the good and throw out the bad. Here’s the article enjoy!
Jim: My church is really pushing “The Way of the Master“. I’m having a little trouble with the “confrontational method” utilized by Comfort and Cameron. I’ve never met anyone that will stay in a conversation like some of the people shown in the videos. Most of the people I’ve approached using similar methods tell me to get lost within a minute or two. I have a hard time believing that people are converted on the street with the ease it seems to portray. Do you have any comments or opinions? Am I underestimating God and the power of the Gospel? –Keith
Keith, I hope you don’t mind that I’ve decided to answer your question in a blog post, but I thought others might benefit from this conversation as well. What follows is just my opinion, and I’m sure that others will disagree with what I have to say on this one.
Years ago, I was a huge “Ray Comfort junkie”; everywhere I went I handed out his tracts, and I took people through his evangelism outline. I had all of his videos, and audios, and up until recently – the place where I get my hair cut had one of Ray Comfort’s “million dollar bill tracts” that I gave them, tacked up on their wall
As you know, Ray Comfort (and The Way of the Master) teach you to evangelize using the law (the 10 commandments). That’s the heart of his evangelism method, and that part is really good. I still use this approach when I have an opportunity to share the Lord with someone.
Using the law is old time evangelism, the way it used to be done. Ray Comfort admits to swiping this approach from the great evangelists and preachers of the past. When you read his books, you’ll see him constantly quoting many Calvinist soul winners from past centuries (Spurgeon, Whitefield, Pink, etc). A few weeks ago, I wrote a John Bunyan posting based on The Pilgrim’s Progress, which essentially teaches the same thing Ray Comfort teaches today. Bunyan wrote that way back in the 17th century.
Ray Comfort is correct in asserting that using ‘the law’ is a lost key of evangelism today. Where is that in Evangelism Explosion, or Bill Bright’s 4 spiritual laws? I have a huge box sitting here next to me, filled with many hundreds of sample tracts from various tract publishers; almost none of them mention the 10 commandments. So I’m delighted that Ray has gone back in time and brought forward the use of the law in evangelism, which is biblical. I encourage everyone to check out his website and see how he uses the law.
Now on to the things that I don’t particularly care for, in The Way of The Master. After a while, it started to bother my conscience that I was handing out tracts that employed deception as a means of bait. The idea is, most people won’t take a normal tract when you hand it to them, so if we give them something that looks like ‘money’ or a magic trick or a pamphlet of jokes, then people will take it from you. Somewhere on each of those
tricky tracts, there is a Gospel message hidden, where the reader will find it later (long after you are gone). It’s a bit of a bait and switch, and often with Ray’s tracts – the most important message in the universe is packaged in something wacky, corny, or gimmicky in my opinion. In a different sort of way, it smacks of the pragmatism that the Church Growth Movement uses, when they (for example) put a NASCAR stock car in their church parking lot on a Sunday morning, to get people to come to church, and – oh by the way . . . listen to a sermon too.
Another concern that I have with the way this evangelism method is often implemented, is typical for today. The person you are witnessing to is sometimes encouraged to do something that will cause themselves to become born again. That’s the modern error of Decisional Regeneration (you make a decision for Christ, and then you are saved). There’s a fine line here that we must walk in our evangelism. We want to put the onus on them to come to Christ (believe and repent), but we don’t want to give them the impression that they can decide to “choose Christ” anytime they want (ie: on their death bed) and their salvation will then be triggered by their mere act of ‘decision’.
You can modify (improve) Ray Comfort’s evangelism outline however, by encouraging the unbeliever to come to Christ in a way similar to what Charles Spurgeon did. If you scroll down on this page, you’ll find one of Spurgeon’s invitations to come to Christ. In a nutshell, he gave people the impression that there is nothing they can do to save themselves. That whole page is worth reading, as it deals with this topic of Decisional Regeneration.
Keith, I know that I haven’t answered your question yet, so I’ll try to do that now.
You are asking about whether this evangelism method is too confrontational, and whether the videos make it look too easy. I’m sure that the videos represent the best of their evangelism attempts. One can only imagine the ratio of rejections to successes. But they are just trying to show you how well it can work, since these are training videos after all.
I personally don’t think that anything Ray Comfort does is too confrontational. We live in a world where people are going to hell all around us, and that should cause us to strive in our personal witnessing. 2 Corinthians 5:11 says
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others“.
We don’t just talk to them, we don’t just recite a pre-recorded message and then leave, we try to persuade them. So, whereas I don’t think you should be aggressive to the point of being rude or highly disruptive, I do think it would be good for most of us to be more assertive with the greatest message that man can possibly hear.
I think there is some value in “street witnessing”, but we must also remember that we are commanded to make disciples, not do “hit and run evangelism”. Some might say that the book of Acts is filled with street witnessing, but I think Paul was in the habit of staying for a while, in the places that he street witnessed.
There are other issues that I could get into, such as Ray Comfort’s unfortunate decision to participate on TBN, and when (and whether) tracts are a legitimate means of fulfilling the great commission, but I’ll leave those issues up for debate in the comment section below.
I will say this in favor of The Way of The Master, if Christians everywhere switched to this type of evangelism, it would be a huge improvement over what typically takes place today, and there would be far fewer false converts. Ray Comfort is not afraid to talk about sin, God’s wrath, punishment, and even “the H-word”; these are subjects too often avoided in modern churches.
Keith, if I did not adequately address your questions, please let me know, in the comments below.
On a humorous note, I just noticed that Ray Comfort has a new Billion Dollar Bill with Spurgeon on it instead of a president. I may have to get some of those to use as book markers. Also, I can not even begin to tell you how many females that I have scared with this jumping insect that Ray Comfort sells. We have family videos of me terrifying my wife’s friends with it:-)
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