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New Paradigm for Evangelism (with teaching tool)

behave2Robert Webber, in his book, The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, suggested that the 20th century church used the pattern of Behave, Believe, and then Belong. We expected non-Christians to behave a certain way when they come to church through their dress, actions and so forth.

The next step was for non-Christians to believe. This meant training them to follow Jesus and committing their lives to him. When people believed they would then belong to a church.

Webber advocated a new paradigm for a post-modern world as being Belong, Believe, and then Behave. I personally prefer this way of viewing evangelism because this reflects the way Jesus reached others. He accepted people the way they were, such as the woman that washed his feet (Luke 7), the woman caught in adultery (John 8), and Zacchaeus (Luke 19).

Everyone wants to feel like they belong. Non-christians are much more receptive to Christianity when they are first accepted unconditionally. Belief follows belonging.

Belief also leads to change in behavior. God changes all of us. Second Corinthians 3:18 says,

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”


Transformation is a gradual, life-long process. We cannot expect people to conform to our standards.

However, I would suggest that the third step be called bless. God transforms us to bless others. If we are full of the Good News we are compelled to share it with others. This is what making disciples is all about!

As a follower of Jesus, where in this paradigm is your weakest link? Look over the questions below and choose one that speaks to your particular situation. This will help you discern if you struggle more with helping people belong, become, or be a blessing.

What action can you take to improve in this area?

1. How accepting am I of others outside of our church?
2. Do I believe that God is working in the lives of unbelievers?
3. Do I believe that God loves all people unconditionally?

1. Do I believe that God has the power to change others?
2. Am I equipping our church members to bless others?
3. Do I recognize giftedness in our church members?

1. Am I open to new ideas of outreach?
2. Do I serve out of passion for the needy?
3. Are we intentionally looking for needs in our community?

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Most churches and Christians believe that one has to follow a set of rules before they can come to the throne of grace. This misses he whole point of grace.

    May 28, 2013
  2. Thanks for the reminder.

    This does make discipleship messy.

    How does a pastor prepare the congregation to help welcome people before they become believers? This is a question I get regularly.

    By the way, I keep picthing your book, Living Dangerously. Great stuff is in that book.

    May 29, 2013
    • Good thoughts, Chris. Thanks for the feedback and encouragement. Blessings on your work!

      May 29, 2013
  3. Shawn,

    Very thought provoking. Saw you following me on Twitter so I came to look around your site. So glad I did!

    March 12, 2015

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