Posted by: Brian Musser | July 14, 2016

Permission Evangelism

Presented at Drexel Students For Christ Large Group June 23, 2016

Tonight is going to be a little bit different. I am going to try something. I’ve only done this once be before and it was only with 4 people that time but we’ll see how it goes. I’m not so much going to preach as I am going to teach. It is going to require a whole lot of audience participation. A lot of tonight will be a “choose your own adventure.” What I share will be greatly dependent upon what you all ask me to share.

So since we are in a lecture hall on a university and I am teaching let me be overly up front about what I hope us to learn tonight. I want us to begin to wrestle with the idea that a “witness” is something we are not something we do. Acts: 1:8 says we will be witnesses not just that we will sometimes go witnessing. I want to introduce to you an idea, strategy, or tool called permission evangelism that will help you intentionally share the Gospel in the midst of your everyday life. I will model this method of evangelism by sharing my testimony tonight in response to your questions. You’ll be given 4 questions that will help you develop your own story using this model.

To begin let’s look at 1 Peter 3:13 – 17 concentrating on verse 15.
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Peter 3:13–17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

This was written during a time of persecution when it was not as prudent for the church to be as over the top public with their proselytizing as they were previously. There is freedom in sharing the Gospel. With just a quick study of Jesus’ life here on earth we will see that He engaged people with the truth in many different ways. Some He approached and dove into the spiritual conversation rather forcefully. Others he allowed to come to him. There were those who were looking for a physical need to be met. There were those who were antagonistic. There were those who were just encountered in the process of everyday life. There were even who it seemed He tried to talk out of it. There is no one way the master used when talking to people about the truth. He changed based on personal, situational and social circumstances. He never compromised the truth but contextualized it. This is just one way to share your faith that might help.

But first in order to share the Gospel, you need to know the Gospel. Do you know the Gospel? Do you know it personally? Verse 15 says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy” and later it talks about “the hope that is in you.” Have you made a confession of Christ as your Lord and Savior so that through His death your sins can be forgiven and through His resurrection you can have new life? You can’t share what you don’t know.

Secondly, in order to share the Gospel, you need to know the Gospel. Verse 15 says “always being prepared.” Do you know the Gospel well enough to explain it to someone else? Have you prepared, studied, thought through, written down, learned, memorized the Gospel so well that you can express it with ease? These years at Drexel you should definitely learn how to study. Have you applied some of those study methods to learning the Gospel?

“Anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” We can draw several interesting conclusions from this phrase. Our hope should public enough that others notice. Our hope should be different enough that others are interested and curious. We should be the type of people that others ask questions about our lives. Are you living your life in such a way that others don’t understand it? Donald Miller once wrote something like, “nobody is interested in a story about someone saving money to buy a Volvo.” How has the hope that you have changed your life?

This is where permission evangelism comes in. Permission Evangelism is a book by Michael Simpson. (I have done an in depth review of his book previously on this site.)  Michael Simpson is a business man who saw parallels between Permission Marketing and some of the ways Jesus engages others with the truth. I read this book very early on as a campus minister and it has helped shape a lot of what I do at Drexel. There are 4 basic questions you need to answer for permission evangelism.

1) What parts of my life do others find interesting? You can get an idea of this by paying attention to the questions you are always answering.
2) How has God, my faith, my spirituality been involved in these areas?
3) How can I answer these questions in such a way that hints at a deep and meaningful answer below the surface but doesn’t overload someone who is uninterested?
4) How can I naturally transition from a spiritual conversation about this area of my life to an even deeper conversation about the Gospel?

I think the best way to better explain this concept is to demonstrate it with my personal life and story. So how many of you know me well enough to have had me tell you a story about my life in a conversation? And how many of you have had the privilege of our conversations going deeper than you expected them too? And how many of you felt like it was a natural and normal conversation? Yep, a lot of that has to do with permission evangelism.

This is how the rest of the night is going to go. I am going to give an introductory paragraph or two about myself that will hopefully chocked full of interesting things that you might want me to expand on. After my introduction I’ll just start answering your questions. A couple guidelines:

1) Ask real questions. Ask about something that you are generally curious about. Don’t ask a questions that you think is trying to set me up in some way or another. Don’t try to ask some random question that is trying to trip me up either.
2) First question can be about anything I said but after that let’s try to keep things building off of the previous questions if possible.
3) I know many of you but I don’t know everybody by name so when you ask your first question give me your name and where you are from.
4) Don’t be shy. Ask a question. Don’t be afraid to ask a real question or hard question. Take this time to not only see permission evangelism at work but also to get to know me a little better.

So I am Brian Musser, I am the Baptist Campus Minister at Drexel University. I specifically work for approximately 150 different churches in the Philly area which worship in over 20 different languages on a Sunday morning. They have sent me to Drexel to be their liaison on campus. I try to be a conduit between the churches in Philly with the folks here at Drexel. I have been doing this for 11 years. I know that date specifically because two days after I officially became the Baptist Campus Minister at Drexel, my wife Jennifer gave birth to our only daughter Julianna. Before becoming this I had a job that many people might see as somewhat different. I was a laboratory manager at Drexel College of Medicine for 4 years and before that I worked at a contract Pharmaceutical lab doing mean things to little animals. I actually only have a B.S. in Biology from Messiah College but I am a published author in the Journal of Neurovirology. But the transition from Biology into ministry wasn’t as abrupt as it sounds. Immediately after college I served as an intern with a campus minister in Guadalajara, Mexico for 4 months and then as an associate pastor at the church I grew up in for 2 years working mostly with youth and young adults. But it is ironic that the kid who because of an early childhood sickness had to go through speech therapy for years now makes a living talking to people. Besides Guadalajara, I have had the opportunity to help with ministry in New Orleans; Montreal; Belfast, Ireland; Lusaka, Zambia; and Port Au Prince, Haiti. Even if it all ended today I can truly say that I have had an amazing life.



  1. […] Taught at Drexel Students for Christ‘s Large Group: Permission Evangelism.  Using our stories about God at work in our lives we can encourage others to ask us questions […]

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