Summary: Some Christians feel constrained by some approaches to evangelism. Knowing your evangelism style helps you comfortably share your story and the gospel in a way that fits your personality.
In my last post, I talked about the spiritual discipline of evangelism. In this post, I’ll give you six evangelism styles and help you find the one that works for you.
As we continue to talk about evangelism, I want to give you practical steps you can take to share your faith. When I was in Bible College, I joined a group that did door-to-door and street evangelism. We always went with a friend to help us if we got stuck..
I met a couple of guys on the street and witnessed to them. My approach shocked my friend I would walk up to these guys and witness to them, seeing that they were strung out on drugs. Unlike him, I did not realize this then. Interestingly, their glazed over eyes cleared up while we talked. They prayed the sinner’s prayer with me and agreed to come to church that Sunday.
However, when we went to pick them up, they were nowhere to be found. I felt I was ineffective at sharing the gospel with them, but my friend told me I did a great job. So, either I was ineffective in my presentation of the gospel, I wasn’t comfortable with confrontational evangelism, or street evangelism is not the most effective way to witness to people.
What I learned later in seminary helped me to be more effective in my evangelism efforts. I read “Building a Contagious Church” and learned about evangelism styles. Some Christians try to witness to others in a style they are uncomfortable with, and their evangelism efforts are stilted by using the wrong evangelism style.
In this post, I will teach on the six evangelism styles and help you with more effective evangelism. After seeing these evangelism styles you will realize your style and put yourself in more comfortable evangelistic efforts. Let’s get started!
6 Evangelism Styles
After reading Mark Middleberg’s book on building a contagious church, I found that evaluating my evangelism style by the styles he presented, became more effective. I have reframed them slightly, and he has a book dedicated to individuals,” I will present these evangelism styles from high-pressure to low-pressure strategies.
First, high-pressure confrontational styles can happen with the first three styles. This is when you get in people’s faces, tell them they are going to hell, stand on the street corner with a bullhorn, and yell at people. Believe it or not, this can be effective with the right personality.
But more often than not, this approach turns people off to the gospel. Confrontation works with the right personality and people who are so hard to the gospel that using this confrontational approach gets their attention.
Second, door to door and street evangelism has the same approach. People train you to use an evangelism system like the Ten Commandments approach, the Romans Road to Salvation, or the Evangelism Explosion approach. You ask questions based on these systems to help people see their need for Jesus as their Savior.
It is still confrontational, but without yelling on the street. Street evangelism is much like door-to-door evangelism. You do the same thing on the street instead of door-to-door. These approaches didn’t work for me. I found them hit and miss approaches for my personality.
More to my liking is the third approach to evangelism, apologetics. Apologetics is responding to objections” of the Christian faith. This is an intellectual approach that works best in colleges and academic settings. You respond to people’s problems and questions with Christianity.
The drawback to apologetics is a higher learning curve. You must study a lot of material to be able to answer questions and defend the Christian faith. You must also be on your guard against people who ask questions just to get you talking and have a canned response to your answer. Some people just want to lead you on instead of understand Christianity.
The fourth style begins the less confrontational approaches. Lifestyle evangelism approaches the gospel by living the Jesus-changed life. People see how you live for Jesus and how He has transformed your life from sin to righteousness and holiness. They become curious about why you have changed. This is the open door to share the gospel with them. You must talk about the gospel. Don’t miss the opportunity their curiosity gives you the share Jesus with them.
Compassion evangelism is the fifth style. Through seeing the needs of others and providing those needs without asking for compensation or a return on your investment, you open the door to sharing Jesus with them. As with compassion evangelism, you must add words and speak of Jesus as you provide for their needs. They must understand why you are helping without asking anything in return.
The final evangelism style is the most laid-back approach to evangelism. Through conversational evangelism, you have conversations with curious people about your faith. You can use apologetics to answer their questions. Conversational evangelism may happen after other approaches, combined with lifestyle or compassion evangelism.
Fitting Your Personality
The key to unlocking these approaches is in choosing one that fits your personality. If you can walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation, the aggressive evangelism approaches will work for you. You don’t have to scream at people to practice door to door and street evangelism.
People who are laid-back and reserved may prefer the last three evangelism styles. But you can’t get so comfortable that you miss the open doors to share your faith. Pay close attention to open doors from the seeker. You must respond to inquiries of the faith.
There are enough approaches for you to find one that fits your personality and makes you the most effective witness for Jesus. No matter which approach you choose, you must talk about Jesus and the change He has made in you.
If you don’t match your words and witness to your deeds, people will assume you are just a nice person willing to help. You must explain your reason for helping them. You must also be aware of wolves with sheep’s clothing on. Some people will bait you so they can try to destroy your explanations and answers.
You don’t want to get into a debate with a person who is not interested in Jesus. These are the conversations you must cut off and continue sharing the gospel. While they may be able to do if refute your claims, they cannot deny Jesus’ power to change your life.
Finding Your Place
As you combine your personality with these evangelism styles, you will find your niche and approach to evangelism that works for you. You won’t be a stressed-out laid back person with the more aggressive forms of evangelism.
Jesus gives you opportunities to talk about Him as you talk with people and present the gospel. Share your story to break the ice, and then give the gospel message. Pay attention to how the person reacts to your story and the gospel message. If they seem interested, keep going. If they seem perturbed, finish as much as you can and allow them to move on. The Holy Spirit will lead another person to pick up where you left off.
Let the Spirit guide you, and watch for His cues. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would speak through us as we witness (Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 12:12). Trust Him to lead the conversation. I’ve often been surprised at what comes to mind to say, or how to talk to people. That’s the Holy Spirit, and we give Him the honor for being willing to minister through us.
Preparing Your Approach
If you use one of the confrontational approaches, prepare your message. Don’t memorize it because people can tell when you are just reading the script. You must be genuine. Stop and answer questions if people have them.
If you use one of the laid-back approaches, look for the open door to tell your story and share the gospel. You can combine these approaches to be more effective. Know which approach works best for you and fits your personality. This will keep you from feeling constrained by an approach that doesn’t fit you.
Try out the evangelism style you think best fits you with a Christian friend. Try each of them to discover your best evangelism style. Prepare your approach to be most effective when witnessing to others. Witness to at least one person in the next couple of weeks.
Now that you know your evangelism style, I want to continue talking about how to use it in evangelism opportunities by sharing your faith your way.