When we think of evangelism, we often become very uncomfortable with the precedent set down by certain religious groups, knocking on doors, accosting strangers in the street and so forth. Now I do not condemn anybody who has the strength to talk to strangers in the street, but that sort of witnessing is not compatible with everybody. For some people, dialogue with strangers may make them very uncomfortable, and therefore some people perhaps should not approach in that manner because they will not be effective evangelists. However that is not to say that we should not share our faith, for all Christians should share their faith and answer the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19. So for the Christian who does not go out knocking on door and talking to random people, I initiate this How To Evangelize article as the first of my series in which I will offer methods of general evangelism.
In my following articles within the How To Evangelize series I will offer tips on evangelizing specific groups and faiths, including Backslidden Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans, and even atheists. However I would say that while it may be helpful to have an understanding of comparative religion, it is not necessary for evangelism, for you do not have to be able to answer every single religious claims to share your faith. People are not converted by our ability to persuade them, but by the supernatural work of God, and therefore we are just his instruments. So it is important to not depend so much on our knowledge of religion and our ability to do apologetics (even though they can be useful, depending on the context).
Having said that, we need to remember that the most important element of our evangelism is God himself. We need to ensure that we are prayerful in all things, that our evangelism aligns with the work and person of Jesus Christ. But that is not to say that we should rush into a friends’ house, flip over their table and chase them out with a scourge of cords. It is to say that we need to be righteous witnesses and erect our evangelism on the foundation of a loving relationship.
A Loving Relationship
When I say that we need to erect our evangelism from the foundation of a loving relationship, I do not mean that we should feign a relationship so that we can tell them to gospel. I mean that we should develop actual relationships and friendships with people, and love them as though they were our neighbor. This involves making sacrifices, helping them through their problems, listening to what they have to say, and generally being a loving friend.
We do not have to purchase best friends forever bracelets or get matching tattoos, but being a friend to somebody will inevitably lead them to consider the faith that they know that you hold. With that in mind then, we should be patient in waiting for the right time to share the gospel with them. If we are pushy about it, or try to force the gospel on them when they are not ready, it is likely to damage the friendship and perhaps even make them more reluctant to hear it.
So then, make friends, be a true friend; kind and loving, and be patient.
Be A Righteous Witness
Let your life be a testimony to them and do not partake in sin. If they want to do something that you might regard as immoral, politely and non-judgmentally express your discomfort, but offer an alternative suggestion. It is not healthy for our personal walk with God to go out to certain places where temptation and sin are lurking nearby, nor is it ideal for our ability to be effective witnesses if we are partaking in the same sort of sinful behavior.
Everybody struggles with sin, but when we are in a relationship with a non-believer, it is very important to represent and portray the person of Jesus Christ, for if we are conformed to the image of the Son as Romans 8:29 says, how then can we continue in sin? If we are in front of them performing every manner of immorality, they are going to assume that there is no profit in being a Christian since we behave just like they do.
If you happen to make a mistake and sin in front of them, or sin against them, apologize to them for it, even if they think it is no big deal, let them know that it bothered you and that you owe them an apology.
Understand The Gospel
Aside from relying on God and our prayer, this is the most vital element of evangelism. Even if we are a righteous witness and portray the person and work of Jesus Christ in our actions, we are a loving and patient friend, when they eventually come to us and ask about the gospel, if we do not understand it ourselves, how can we witness anything if we do not know what we are witnessing?
If you want to understand the gospel message, read through Romans 1 through Romans 6, and read the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Ask other Christians how they present the gospel, read articles about it, watch Ray Comfort’s street evangelism videos.
Further, make sure that you can explain the gospel message in a concise manner just as well as you understand it. Every Christian should be able to explain the gospel in only a few moments. But we also need to be able to answer questions about it, and therefore as evangelists, we have to know the gospel through and through.
If you would like to get in on the discussion about this, join my Theology Discussion Group!