Multi-dimensional Evangelism


The term “evangelism” (“euangelizo”) certainly has gone through many stages in understanding its meaning. The Greek root of this term limits it to “proclamation” or the sharing of news. Within the Christian context, it would cover sharing the good news of Christ to people. However, in its usage in the Bible and in the early church, it appears to have a broader meaning that includes what we often call discipleship. So one could look at Evangelism as a line. That is because it covers sharing God‘s word to unbelievers as well as continued sharing in developing followers of Christ.

0-Dimensional Evangelism  (The “Point”)

In more recent times, the term “evangelism” tended to be reduced to a pointengel scale rather than a line. That is, it tended to be used to describe the work done to create a “conversion experience” in another person. This was often considered to have happened if the recipient said what has come to be known as “the Sinner’s Prayer“.

1-Dimensional Evangelism (The “Line”)

Evangelism has been broadened back to a line by James Engel who created what is now known as the Engel’s Scale. Evangelism is cognitive or proclamation work that moves the listener from a state of rejection towards belief and discipleship. Therefore, helping someone go from complete ignorance of God to understanding who God is in relationship to oneself is part of evangelism.

2-Dimensional Evangelism (The “Square”)

Two-Dimensional Evangelism is found in the Gray Matrix… developed by Frank Gray. He noted that evangelism should not be thought of as simply a cognitive process. There is also an affective (emotions/values) component. This means that helping someone move from hostile to God to having a favorable opinion is also part of evangelism. Moving anyone from the lower left towards the upper right in the 2-D matrix is evangelism.gray matrix

One can read up on Engel’s Scale and Gray’s Matrix at:  http://www.internetevangelismday.com/gray-matrix.php

3-Dimensional Evangelism (The “Cube”)

But this begs the question of a third dimension. In education, one generally divides the molding of students in terms of cognitive, affective, and behavioral. Engel’s Scale is cognitive (1-dimensional). Gray’s Matrix is cognitive and affective (2-dimensional). But could evangelism be thought of as 3-Dimensional… or an Evangelism Cube. Could one add a behavioral component. One could argue that salvation does not have a behavioral component since salvation is a matter of faith not works. Yet the same argument might be made regarding the other two dimensions. If it is about faith, it is not about correct thinking or correct affection. But since part of our role as Christians is to be conformed behaviorally to Christ and to guide others in the same direction, then behavior certainly is a component in effective evangelism.

Evangelism CubeWhy does this matter… or does it matter? I believe it matters. How we picture things guides how we do things. Some see evangelism as a dot. Get people to say the sinner’s prayer and that is good enough. I have known Christians that have used trickery to get people to mumble the sinner’s prayer. When the person has done this, they feel that they have done the work of an evangelist. It is like a friend of mine who had an interesting experience. Some Muslim neighbors tried to trick him into saying the Shahadah (Islamic statement of faith) three times. Why? Because they believed that the act of saying it three times would make him a Muslim. While we may find that humorous, those that believe that saying the sinner’s prayer makes one a Christian (regardless of intent, heart, or faith) is guilty of the same confusion.

Those that see evangelism as a line work with people through the cognitive challenges of faith and continue after a conversion experience towards becoming a faithful servant of God.

Those that see evangelism as two-dimensional are also concerned with values and emotions. They are concerned with “decorating the gospel” (Titus 2:10) to not only make it intellectually palatable but desirable to the heart. They share not only what is true, but do it in a way that is kind and helpful (I Peter 3:15).

3-dimensional evangelism is concerned not only with the cognitive side and the affective side, but the behavioral side as well… helping them conform themselves to Christ. Since many behaviors can be destructive and a hindrance, behavioral guidance may begin even before conversion and continue long past.

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