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How to Be Effective in Evangelism


Introduction

The Bible tells us to spread the Gospel and share our faith (e.g. Matthew 28:18-20, Philemon 1:6), but this seems to be difficult for most Christians to do. Since I was always so bad at it, I prayed for help and read books and tried different approaches, and I learned some useful things along the way.

You can share the Gospel, and this article will get you there!

I will add more to this article from time to time, so please send me any ideas and practical experiences you've had which might help others!



Some ways to prepare

Here are some things you can do to feel more prepared and ready to share the Gospel:

  1. Work on loving the Lord.

    • As your love for God grows, so does your desire to serve and obey Him.
    • For some ideas, see my article called Loving and Praising Jesus.
    • Jesus said that this is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38).
  2. Work on loving other people.

    • Jesus said that this is the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39).
    • Remember, unbelievers are not the enemy, they have been taken captive by the enemy (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
    • Love is the proper motivation for everything we do (e.g. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Galatians 5:6).
    • When you're standing near people (on an elevator, waiting in line, etc.), mentally tell them things like, "God loves you and cares about you. ... God doesn't want you to go to hell. ... I love you and care about you. ... I don't want you to go to hell." Even if you're not ready to step out in faith and share the Gospel yet, this will put you in a good frame of mind for sharing the Gospel. Try it! It really helps!
  3. Deal with the fear of failure.

    • Jesus didn't convince everyone (e.g. Matthew 19:16-23, John 8:42-59), and the apostles didn't convince everyone (e.g. Acts 5:27-33).
    • Our job is to tell people, not convince people. Convicting and convincing people is the Holy Spirit's job.
    • Jesus allowed the rich young man to walk away (Matthew 19:16-23), and we need to allow people to walk away as well if they're not sensing any conviction. This takes a lot of pressure off of us!
    • When babies take a few steps and fall down, their parents aren't angry at them. Their parents are proud of them for trying! In the same way, it's likely that when we fall flat on our face or chicken out, God isn't angry at us, He is proud of us for getting up and trying again!
  4. Deal with the fear of rejection, fear of confrontation, fear of looking foolish, fear of being stereotyped, fear of offending, etc.

    • Jesus and the disciples were rejected, and Jesus specifically said that we will be rejected (e.g. Matthew 10:22-23). Rejection is normal and expected, don't worry about it.
    • Sometimes belligerent or confrontational people turn out to be very open to the Gospel because God has been working on their hearts. Don't make assumptions about how people will respond!
    • Our fears are usually unfounded. They are simply false evidence which "appears" to be real (False Evidence Appearing Real).
    • A good article on dealing with fear Offsite Link.
    • Everything new feels awkward at first, but you'll get better with practice.
    • Sometimes you will feel fear ... trust God and do it anyway!
    • It is wrong to want people's approval more than God's approval, or to be ashamed of the Gospel (Galatians 1:10, Romans 1:16, 2 Timothy 1:8, Mark 8:38).
    • Confrontations don't happen very often.
  5. Deal with the fear of inadequacies.

    • Moses complained of not being eloquent and being slow of speech and tongue (Exodus 4:10-16), and possibly he stuttered or stammered (Exodus 6:12), yet God worked mightily through him.
    • Paul felt weakness and fear and trembling when he proclaimed the Gospel (1 Corinthians 2:1-4), yet God worked mightily through him.
    • God can work mightily through you no matter what your issues are, but only if you step out in faith and open your mouth!
  6. Deal with the fear of not knowing what to say or how to answer difficult questions.

    • Learn some things to say (see below).
    • Learn some replies to common responses (see below).
    • Practice in your mind or with a friend until you feel fairly comfortable. You'll get more comfortable with experience.
    • It's okay to say that you don't know the answers to people's questions!


Simple steps to help you break out of your shell

  1. Every day, pray for God to prepare people's hearts and to place them in your path, and to give you the right words to say, and to give you boldness, and so on.

    • Even the apostles wanted prayer for sharing the Gospel boldly and clearly! (e.g. Acts 4:29, 2 Corinthians 10:1, Ephesians 6:19-20, Colossians 4:3-4).
  2. Practice starting a conversation with strangers (on any topic).

    • This will help you become more comfortable talking to people, if that doesn't come naturally for you.
    • Take an interest in people. Everyone has a story!
  3. Practice helping people.

    • Throughout the day, say something like, "Lord, who can we help today?" This puts you in a good frame of mind for finding opportunities to be a servant, and for helping people by sharing the Gospel (when you're ready), and it acknowledges that it's the Lord working through you.
    • Let people see your faith in action (e.g. James 2:14-18, Romans 12:16-13:1, Philippians 1:27). Actions speak louder than words, and we are the only "Bibles" that non-Christians are reading!
  4. Practice talking about God in everyday conversations.

    • You might not be ready to give a full presentation of the Gospel, but this step will help you become more comfortable switching conversations over to spiritual topics.


Ways to share the Gospel

Be sensitive to God's promptings, and step out in faith. Amazing things will happen!

People who don't go to church won't understand many religious terms, and they won't want to be preached at and overwhelmed with lots of facts and figures and Bible verses.

Share the Gospel in a gentle, humble, loving way. Don't be pushy, but instead leave them with a good impression of Christians so that they might be more open to the next person who shares the Gospel (e.g. 1 Peter 3:15-16, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Proverbs 15:1).

If they are negative at first, calmly continue in case they soften up, but if they don't soften up then let them go.

Here are some ways to share the Gospel:

  1. Watch for openings which will help you determine if the person is unsaved, and which will help you turn conversations to spiritual topics. Here are some ideas:

    • "How's your day going? Anything I can pray for you?"

      • Even non-Christians appreciate an offer of prayer.
    • "Hi, I'm a missionary."

      • The dictionary defines a missionary as "A person who tries to convert someone else," so we're all meant to be missionaries wherever we are.
      • This fascinates people, so it's an easy, non-confrontational opening which allows you to get an idea whether they're Christian or not.
      • After Jesus gave the disciples their commission to go into all the world, they started preaching right there in Jerusalem. Our first mission field will usually be our own backyard.
    • "What church do you go to?"
    • "Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?"
    • "Do you see yourself as a sinner in God's sight?"
    • "If you died right now, where would you go?"
    • "Do you ever wonder if your spiritual beliefs are the real thing?"
    • "Do you ever wonder if you're good enough to go to heaven?"
    • "Do you ever have any spiritual questions, but you're not sure who to ask?"

      • If the answer is yes, you can simply give them a tract or bookmark with some websites or phone numbers (see #3 below).
    • "Do you have a Christian background?"
    • "When you said, 'It's like the blind leading the blind,' did you know that's in the Bible?"
    • Use current events as ways of turning the conversation to Christ.

      • Jesus used current events to turn the conversation to repentance (e.g. Luke 13:1-5), and Paul used local objects to initiate conversations (e.g. Acts 17:22-23), etc.
  2. Make it obvious that you're a Christian.

    • Sometimes non-Christians will start up conversations with you when God has been preparing their hearts.
    • Try wearing Christian T-shirts, carrying a Christian coffee mug, carrying your Bible and reading it in public places, and so on.
    • When you make it obvious that you're a Christian, it gives you a strong incentive to act the way a Christian should!
  3. Hand out tracts or bookmarks.

    • Check your local Christian bookstore for tracts, or browse through these Google search results Offsite Link.
    • This is a very easy way to spread the Gospel. Simply say, "Here's a gift for you."
    • Keep tracts or bookmarks handy when you're out at stores, malls, etc., so that you can quickly grab one to give to a person.
    • Here are some articles on ways to use tracts:
    • To make your own bookmarks, see my article called Make Your Own Evangelistic Bookmarks. The bookmarks contain websites with discipling information plus toll-free prayer/counseling phone numbers, so they're useful for Christians as well as non-Christians. Say something like, "Here, let me give you one of these. Whenever you need prayer or you have spiritual questions, there are some phone numbers and websites on here, so hang on to this bookmark."
  4. Hand out Bibles.

    • Various places sell inexpensive New Testaments.
    • Put tracts or bookmarks in the Bibles.
  5. The 30-Day Experiment.

    • Good for people who want proof that God exists, which includes practically every unbeliever!
    • Say something like this, "Scientists need to be honest and objective when they perform experiments, right? So try this experiment, being honest and objective. Read the Gospel of John in the Bible, like a chapter a day every day for 30 days. There are 21 chapters in the Gospel of John, so it's okay if you miss some days. Before you read each day, ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you as you read, then listen to your heart and notice Him gently drawing you!"
    • You can buy the Gospel of John for under 80 cents each at Christianbook.com Offsite Link.
    • Put a tract or bookmark in the book.
    • Various authors provide testimonies of how effective this is!
  6. Share your testimony.

    • Keep it down to 3 minutes or less.
    • Talk about what your life was like before being saved, how you got saved, and what your life has been like after receiving salvation.
    • The New Testament talks about our testimony for Jesus, and sometimes unbelievers are impacted by our real-life testimony.
  7. Are you a good person? Offsite Link
    Hell's Best Kept Secret Offsite Link

    • This approach uses the Ten Commandments to bypass the unbelievers' intellectual arguments, going straight to their consciences!
    • Demonstrates that Judgment Day is both inevitable and reasonable.
  8. Four Spiritual Laws Offsite Link
    Bad News / Good News Offsite Link
    Roman Road to Salvation Offsite Link

    • These are similar approaches which tend to use the following verses (or similar verses such as Ephesians 2:8-9). The idea is to have the person read these verses out loud from a booklet or Bible so that you can explain what they mean:

      • Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
      • Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
      • Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
      • Romans 10:13 "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
      • Romans 10:9-10 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
    • Describes a number of creative ways to share the Gospel.


Handy stories, analogies, illustrations, examples, etc.

  1. There are invisible radio signals, TV signals, etc., all around us. You can't see them, but this doesn't prove that they're not real! Similarly, you can't see God, but this doesn't prove that He's not real!
  2. You might think that God is unfair, but God is not the guilty one. We are the guilty ones. All of us have broken His laws and deserve to stand guilty before Him on Judgment Day. But He is willing to forgive us!
  3. Consider that if someone is found guilty of murder, he can get the death penalty. Just one crime can send a person to death, even if that crime happened many, many years ago! Similarly, all of the sins that you committed many, many years ago are still on your record if you haven't been forgiven by God.
  4. No other religious leader ever atoned for your sins, so no other religion can save you.
  5. Imagine that a guy murders your spouse or your child or your parent, and you go to court to see him get the death penalty. You want justice! The murderer admits that he's guilty, but he says that his good deeds should outweigh his bad deeds because he's really a good person. Then you watch in shock as the judge lets him go free! What kind of lousy judge is that? Where's the justice? So what kind of Judge would God be if He lets you go free just because you say that you're a "good person"?
  6. Are there any kinds of people that you would not allow to come into your house and live with you? Would you invite a serial killer to come stay with you? If he has done lots of "good deeds," you still wouldn't let him into your house! If you have kids, would you invite a child-molester to come live with you? It would be against your nature to let certain people come live with you, right? "Sin" is anything which is against the nature of God. God is not going to let certain people come live with Him in heaven because all sins are against His nature, such as lying, stealing, premarital sex, adultery, murder, rejecting God, and so on.
  7. People in airplanes don't put on a parachute in order to make their ride more comfortable, they put it on so that they can safely bail out when the plane is about to crash and burn. No-one gets out of this life alive, the plane of your life will crash, so you will either burn or else you can safely bail out with Jesus as your parachute. We all have trials and tribulations during this plane trip that we call life, but non-Christians have no parachute for that moment when their plane crashes and their life comes to an end.
  8. A man who was caught in the act of a serious crime was brought before a judge. Turned out that the man was the judge's long-lost son! The judge had no choice. He declared his son guilty and fined him a huge amount of money as the law required. But then he stepped down from the bench, took off his robe, and paid the fine for his son. We are all guilty of sinning against God, and therefore punishment is required. But God took the punishment for us on the cross!


Responses that unbelievers might make

Don't let the conversation get sidetracked. Keep bringing the conversation back to the unbeliever's need for salvation.

It's okay to say that you don't have all the answers!

If there is no evidence that the unbeliever is sensing any conviction from the Holy Spirit then he's not ready for the good news of the cross. Conviction and conversion are not your responsibility, so politely let him go.

  1. "I don't believe in God."

    • Do you think that there might be life on other planets somewhere in the universe, but we just don't know it yet? In the same way, it is certainly possible that God exists but you just don't know it. Try the 30-day experiment.
    • What would happen if you're on the street and a huge truck is barreling towards you, and you don't believe in such a thing as a truck? The truck is really there whether or not you choose to believe it! Try the 30-day experiment.
  2. "All roads lead to God."

    • The problem with your theory is that God Himself says that Jesus is the only way. Try the 30-day experiment.
  3. "I have a lot more fun as a non-Christian."

    • For a short while, maybe. But the world's ways can't really fill that emptiness inside you. The world's ways can't give you righteousness, which you'll need on Judgment Day. Try the 30-day experiment.
  4. "I believe that Jesus was a moral man and a great teacher."
  5. "You're trying to lay a guilt trip on me!"

    • Which one of God's commands makes you feel guilty? Try the 30-day experiment.
  6. "Faith is for the weak-minded."

    • Try to live for an entire day without putting faith in anything. When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, don't have faith that it's set to the correct time. When you eat breakfast, don't have faith that it was made in accordance with health regulations. When you sit in your chair, don't have faith that it will hold your weight. Before you turn on your TV or radio, don't have faith that there are invisible TV signals and radio signals all around you. You live by faith all day, every day. Do you think of yourself as being weak-minded? Try the 30-day experiment.
  7. "I'm not interested. I'm busy. I'm not ready."

    • I understand. Here's something that you can read later [hand him a tract or a bookmark].
  8. "Science hasn't proven the existence of God."

    • God is a spirit, so He can't be analyzed by scientific instruments. Therefore, science will never be able to prove or disprove the existence of God. Instead, God will reveal Himself to you in your heart. Since you're interested in science, try the 30-day experiment.
    • When atheists have thoroughly studied Christianity in order to disprove it, many times they ended up becoming Christians. Try Googling "atheists who became Christian".
    • If you won't believe in anything unless you see it, then how do you know you've got a brain? Since you're interested in science, try the 30-day experiment.
  9. "A loving God wouldn't send people to hell."

    • God does love us, but He is also holy and righteous, which means that He must judge us for our sins. Try the 30-day experiment.
    • He doesn't cause anyone to go to hell, but instead it's people who cause themselves to go to hell by rejecting Jesus. Try the 30-day experiment.
  10. "What about everyone who never heard of Jesus?"

    • The issue is not what will happen to them, the issue is what will happen to you? Try the 30-day experiment.
  11. "I'm a good person, I haven't sinned."

    • If we judge by the world's standard, then you're probably right. But God has a zero-tolerance policy, and according to His standard you have committed numerous sins. For example... [go through the "Are you a good person?" approach above, using the Ten Commandments]
  12. "I go to church. I grew up in a Christian home. I'm a Christian."

    • Awesome! So have you noticed yourself changing and growing? Is your relationship with Jesus improving? [Not everyone who claims to be saved is really saved. Is there any Christian fruit in their lives?]
  13. "Christians are all hypocrites."

    • If we focus on people then sure, we will see people making bad choices and committing sins and so on because God has given us free will. Christians are human, and we all have weaknesses and we all fail sometimes. But hypocrites are not the important issue, the important issue is you. Try the 30-day experiment.
  14. "The Bible is thousands of years old and full of contradictions."

    • When I was an agnostic I used to say things that I heard other agnostics saying, but I never checked for myself. Have you ever read the Bible yourself? Here's my Bible, can you show me some contradictions? [For some more suggestions on how to answer this, see my article called Is the Bible Trustworthy?]
  15. "I guess I need to wait until I'm worthy enough."

    • You'll never be worthy enough on your own. No-one is "good enough" to go to heaven. But God loves us, and He made a way for us to be forgiven! Try the 30-day experiment.
  16. "What about all the suffering in the world? I don't want anything to do with a God who allows evil to happen."

    • God has given us free will, and it's the evil in our hearts (i.e. our sin) which causes us to hate and steal and lie and kill and so on [go through the "Are you a good person?" approach above, using the Ten Commandments].


Scenarios

Practice with different audiences in mind, and pray that God will prepare their hearts:

  1. At stores, malls, restaurants, etc. (i.e. a very short amount of time with strangers)

    • Hand them a tract or a bookmark, leave a bookmark with your tip in a restaurant, etc.
  2. On airplanes, on the street, repair people in your home, etc. (i.e. a longer amount of time with strangers)

    • Share your testimony, use the "Are You a Good Person?" approach, explain the 30-day experiment, etc.
  3. Relatives, neighbors, co-workers (i.e. long-term relationships)

    • Be a servant and model Christ, and use some of the above approaches when the time seems right.
  4. Teens and kids
  5. Sharing the Gospel over the Internet
  6. Sharing the Gospel with people of other spiritual beliefs

    • Carm.org Offsite Link has lots of information on cults and other religions.


May the Lord radically bless you as you go out and obey the Great Commission!
 
 
 
  Modification History  
 
 

  • 04/14/2008 - New article.