In his book, Concentric Circles of Concern, Dr. Oscar Thompson says that the most important word in the English language, apart from proper nouns, is the word “RELATIONSHIP”! I believe his statement is true in a number of areas related to the church.
- Evangelism. Although I am not opposed to just about any kind a genuine evangelism, relational evangelism is the most effective. In a recent study, Dr. Gary McIntosh discovered that 84% said that “talking to a friend or a family member” was what influenced them most in their desire to come to Christ. We should “shake the family tree” when it comes to praying for the lost and sharing our faith. God has ordained that we be in relationship with certain persons because they are members of our family, classmates at school, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Therefore, it is our responsibility and privilege to share Christ with them. Don’t forget, this study shows that if we have an established relationship with an unsaved person, we have the highest potential to influence them toward Christ.
- Assimilation. Relationships are the glue that causes people to stick to a church. People are not merely looking for a friendly church; they are looking to make friends at church. If a person has 6-8 friends in a church after six months, they will stay with the church. In contrast, if a person only has 2-3 friends in a church after six months, they will almost certainly fall away from that church.
- Discipleship. Jesus made disciples by developing mentoring relationships and by doing life together with His followers. They ate together, sailed together, walked together, and learned together. For Jesus, disciple-making was a life-long journey to which he gave his time and effort.
I have written quite a bit along these lines. Here are some other entries that may be of help: