Evangelism. There is much need for it in the world today. For the gospel to go forward we must prioritize evangelism in our local churches and in our personal lives. This then raises the question: what is evangelism? Simply put, evangelism is sharing the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul calls this good news or gospel something that must have first importance (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). Sharing the gospel is of first importance because we have a mandate from Jesus himself to do so (Matthew 28:18-20). For it is the primary means by which the world will hear about Jesus (Romans 10:8-13). Sure, the Lord could have chosen other means, but the beauty of it is that we get the pleasure of joining Him in the work. What a privilege!
Most Christians are likely to see the importance of evangelism, but lack the tools and skills to allow it to be part of their daily lives. Local churches should have a strategy for teaching their members how to do evangelism. The strategies will range from highly programmed to very informal. Both extremes can be a disservice to church members. Churches that have a highly programmed evangelism strategy unintentionally convey that evangelism is for those who become “good at it” and can likely discourage people from participating. Churches that have a very informal strategy for evangelism unintentionally convey that evangelism is not important and it will not have a meaningful place in the church.
Evangelism strategies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is best. With a little bit of training and a big dose of encouragement many Christians are likely to engage in evangelism, even if it be in small ways. In this article we will discuss a simple strategy for personal evangelism.
Before you start. Make sure that you are gripped by the gospel. The Lord can use anyone to share the gospel (Numbers 22:31-39). Yet the gospel is most clearly and effectively shared by someone who has been changed by the power of the gospel. It’s difficult to convey something that has no impact in your own life. The other person will be able to tell when it has changed your life and will likely be more receptive. (To learn more about the gospel please visit The Gospel page from our homepage.)
Pray. The importance of prayer in evangelism cannot be stressed too much. Prayer is essential for all of the Christian life, especially in evangelism. The most significant way prayer is important in evangelism is asking the Lord for opportunities. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2, ESV). It is true that we cannot share the gospel apart from the strength of the Holy Spirit. Yet we are promised that the Spirit will strengthen us and give us the words to say at the proper time (Luke 12:12). I firmly believe that moreChristians do not engage in evangelism because they don’t pray for opportunity. The Bible warns us about praying in vain because we often pray wrongly. Yet the Bible also says, “You do not have, because you do not ask (James 4:3). We are to pray according to the Lord’s will. It is the Lord’s will that the gospel go forth to all nations. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. I guarantee He will answer it!
Read. Know your Bible. You can’t share what you do not possess. If you are going to pray for opportunities to engage in evangelism, you must know the gospel message that you intend to share. This comes by reading, studying, and memorizing scripture. Do you know the best way to spot a counterfeit? Study the real thing. There is value in knowing about other religions and worldviews. Yet a person cannot engage in evangelism without knowing the real thing: the Bible. Knowing sound doctrine can help you easily spot the counterfeits that you will encounter as you engage with others. This will allow you to share with them the truth of the gospel more effectively.
Share. This can be the hardest part. What is the best way to share the gospel? The truth is, there is no set method that will “guarantee” success. There can be as many ways to share the gospel as there are people. Everyone will hear and receive the message differently. Christians from past generations emphasized door to door evangelism. This method proved somewhat effective in Western culture in the mid-late 1900s. While this method may still be effective in some parts of the world today, it is not the most effective for Western culture. The gospel is most effectively shared, and received, in the context of personal relationships. This includes family, friends, and neighbors. These three spheres of influence are likely the best places for you to begin engaging in evangelism. Yet these can be some of the hardest places for evangelism because it can be difficult sharing the gospel with someone whom you know and trust. There is a tension between the desire to share the truth and not wanting to negatively affect the relationship. We must remember, however, that sharing the gospel is the most loving thing we can do for our family, friends, and neighbors.
Tools. Now that we have discussed the basic strategy for evangelism, it can be helpful to have a few tools at your disposal when sharing the gospel. The best tool is Biblical knowledge (step two). Memorized scripture and understanding sound doctrine is priceless when engaging in evangelism. It is difficult to share the truth, if you don’t know it. And though being familiar with scripture is essential in gospel conversations, there will be times that you cannot recall a specific verse or passage. In these situations it can be helpful to have a Bible on hand. Having a good Bible app on your phone or even carrying around a small New Testament can prove helpful. (Please see the list of resources at the end of this article for Bible app and Bible recommendations.)
Another great tool is your personal testimony, the story of God’s grace in your own life. Your story can be the most powerful tool when sharing the gospel. This will give the person with whom you are engaged a tangible example of how Jesus works in someone’s life. It would be beneficial to “practice” your testimony. One excellent way to do this is to write out your testimony in a couple of paragraphs. This will not only serve as an encouragement to you, as you think on the grace of God, but it can serve to help you hone it to 3-5 minutes. Being able to share your testimony will ensure that you’re always ready when the opportunity presents itself.
One tool that has waned in popularity, but can still be effective in certain situations is having good gospel tracts on hand. I know what you may be thinking. Tracts? Are you kidding? In fact, I am not. I don’t think that tracts are good to use in every situation, but they can be very helpful. It is important, however, to have good gospel tracts, not the creepy ones that try to scare people out of Hell. There are biblically sound, and culturally engaging tracts available that can provide a brief gospel presentation. Tracts can be useful at restaurants to give to servers, or to people you encounter briefly while traveling, etc. They are something tangible that you can leave with someone to read and consider. (For a sampling of excellent gospel tracts, please see the recommended resources at the end of this article.)
As we have discussed in this article, there is a great need for evangelism in the world today. The Bible is clear in that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, ESV). The word of God proclaimed is the Lord’s primary means for evangelizing the world. In order for others to hear and believe, someone must go and tell (Romans 10:13-15). This mandate is not simply for someone with the gift of evangelism. It is given to all followers of Jesus. As we begin a new year, consider the threefold method discussed above: pray, read, share. Don’t be surprised, then, when opportunities for evangelism arise all around you.
Photo courtesy unsplash.com
Books & Bibles:
- The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever
- Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
- What if I’m Discouraged in My Evangelism? by Isaac Adams
- Evangelism by J. Mack Styles
- Tactics by Gregory Koukl
- To Be A Christian by J. I. Packer (Crossway)
- Quest For Joy by John Piper (Crossway)
- The Greatest Chapter in the Bible by John Piper (Crossway)
- A Offer of Hope (Crossway)
- What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert (Crossway)
- Why Trust The Bible? by Greg Gilbert (Crossway)
- Who is Jesus? by Greg Gilbert (Crossway)
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