As I mentioned in my previous post on contact evangelism as a evangelism method, I share my thoughts on how to train people and evangelists who are scared of this methodology.
How do I help such people improve their personal evangelism skills?
By far, when I ask people about their evangelism fears at personal evangelism training seminars or while giving coaching by phone, contact evangelism is one of the first or second fears that come right out.
I find mental images of “Contact Evangelism Gone Wild.”
The associations and fears with these images present a evangelism training challenge.
1. Contact evangelism can be too aggressive
Some evangelists thrive on this manner of contact evangelism, regardless of how they come across to people.
Just yesterday, I met a gentleman who loves this style of evangelism. He admitted that he can sometimes get aggressive.
He feels the urgency of the gospel message and wants people to hear it. He believes that sin is so offensive to God that one just has to be bold and confront people on their sin.
Even as he told me how he evangelizes, he got very passionate, slamming his left fist into right hand for emphasis, and I could see how people would perceive him as aggressive.
A few months ago, I met another pastor who told me about his approach to evangelism in his neighborhood, “These people need you to get in their face, or else they won’t hear you at all. If you are not in their face, you’ll be ignored. That’s the problem with relational evangelists – you take too long.”
2.Contact evangelism can be mis-timed.
My wife was at the bus station for some travel.
The bus was delayed.
The delay stretched into 3-4 hours.
With each delay, the frustration level of the passengers increased.
People were getting tired, hungry, and angry. They hadn’t planned a delay, didn’t have money for food, and their plans for the evening they had at their destination were seriously messed up.
The contact evangelist team showed up and started telling these already tired and frustrated people they were sinners.
It didn’t go over well.
Sharing Jesus in this way with tired, angry, and hungry people nearly caused a riot. It resulted in loud voices, tense moments, shouting, and trading of hostile words.
The evangelists went away rejoicing, considering themselves worthy of suffering for the Lord.
The bus passengers were still mad at life circumstances, and very little was visibly accomplished for the kingdom.
Instead, it appeared to turn lots of people off to obnoxious Christians.
3. Contact Evangelism is for weirdos.
The stereotype is so embedded into our consciousness that it is funny.
You could probably say it with me.
“Standing on the street corner with a bullhorn.”
Other similar images rattle off:
- Reading bible at passer-bys
- Preaching a long sermon to no one in particular
- Wearing sandwich boards saying “End is near”
Many of us have probably seen
- street preachers at traffic intersections preaching at whomever is there at any given moment
- walking through the city carrying a cross or some other Christian symbol
- You Tube Videos of street preachers that make us blush.
My point is not to poke fun or diminish their work, but to say that this image of contact evangelism is sense of personal embarrassment to many people with whom I speak.
“That’s not for me, please don’t make me do that.”
Is there a place for contact evangelism?
In my next post, I will look at the place of contact evangelism as a methodology that has it’s place in evangelistic work.