While the terms “relationship” and “community” are used extensively within the body of Christ, the full implication of both terms are seldom realized or emphasized. There are two sides to this proverbial coin, in which these terms, especially “relationship”, can apply to multiple entities. “Relationship” can refer to the interaction between a Christian and God, as well as one’s interaction with other Christians, and the same can be said about “community”. McRaney provides a great summary of this in stating that “God desires to establish a redemptive relationship with all of humankind; the Bible refers to the people of God as family, friends, and a community of faith” (McRaney 2003, 16).
This statement encompasses all aspects of these two words, and refers to their functionality within the church. First and foremost, one’s personal relationship with God is the fuel that drives this functionality. Upon accepting Christ, one is adopted into the family of God with the unique ability to know God as one’s Father, as indicated in Romans 8:14-17. From this personal relationship with God flows the roots of community within the body of Christ, and within this community, lateral relationships are formed with other believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul constantly refers to fellow Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ, and his interaction with them were as such.
Ultimately, these two terms play a crucial role in one’s evangelism. Early and Wheeler state that “Jesus is the ultimate example of effective evangelism; His bold actions and ability to listen and engage in relationship with the woman at the well give us the challenge to do the same” (Earley & Wheeler 2010, 232). His interaction with this woman provides all the essential elements of effective evangelism through the ages.
In addition, Jesus also revealed a critical enabler for effective evangelism prior to his ascension—the Holy Spirit. Luke provides an account of the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit indwelled believers in order to render their evangelism more effective. However, prior to the arrival of the Spirit in this case, there were certain conditions that existed, as indicated in Acts 2:1. A community of believers were gathered together in one place united in faith and prayer. This seemingly minute detail describes the perfect conditions for an effective evangelism through the work and power of the Holy Spirit within the body of Christ, regardless of era. The key takeaway from this for our personal evangelism is the importance of the persistent reliance on and guidance from the Holy Spirit in our relationships with fellow believers and nonbelievers.
Earley, Dave and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is…: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.
McRaney, William Jr. The Art of Personal Evangelism: Sharing Jesus in a Changing Culture. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.