Recently, a question has been spinning in my mind:
“How do I share my faith without being obnoxious?”
Maybe that is your question too.
I think many have had experiences of being embarrassed by evangelists who misrepresent Jesus.
Or maybe they have have had personal experience in being the obnoxious evangelist.
The book, Becoming a Contagious Christian, helped me change my approach to personal evangelism by helping me understand the different types of personal evangelism.
Now I teach these same principles in my materials throughout the US and Latin America.
The styles of personal evangelism presented in that book are practical forms of personal evangelism that can help the ordinary person in the pew overcome their shyness or evangelism fears.
Peter’s Confrontational Approach — Acts 2:22-41
If Peter was convinced he was right, there was almost no stopping him. He was direct, he was bold, and he was to the point.
Many of you know Peter’s in your face approach.
Instead of complying, he defied.
Instead of being quiet, he proclaimed. He was very direct.
My friend Eric told of a friend who would walk up to bikers outside a bar and say:
“Hey, How is it going? Have you read your bible today?”
Paul’s Intellectual Approach — Acts 17:15-34
The Apostle Paul was a thinker. He wrote the awesome book of Romans. He thought through how to present the gospel to Greeks, Jews, Romans, and others in a contextually appropriate way.
His treatment of the Altar to the Unknown God at Athens is a testimony to one who can present a rational case, and debate philosophers in such a way that they want to know more.
CS Lewis might be a modern day example of this.
I am not. I have a hard time reading a CS Lewis book beyond the first chapter because it is at such lofty heights that he writes.
Yet I know people who came to faith because of a little book called “Mere Christianity.”
Blind Man’s Testimonial Approach — John 9:1-15,25
This man, born blind, could only speak from his experience. He confidently declared: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
That’s hard to argue with, isn’t it?
Many people can only talk about the radical change in their life that has happened since they started following Jesus.
They may not have the boldness like Peter, or the intellect to defend the rationality of faith like Paul, but what you have is a testimony of a changed life.
You may not know all that you believe, but your life has been transformed and it’s worth talking about.
Matthew’s Relational Approach — Luke 5:27-29
Instead of inviting people to church as the first step, Matthew invited fellow tax collectors and sinners to his home.
Do you enjoy having people into your home, sharing a meal, and spending time in conversation?
Many people will never be reached until someone takes the time to build that kind of closeness with them.
Matthew was allowing himself to get close first and spend time outside of “the church.”
Samaritan Women’s Invitational Approach — John 4
When Jesus encountered this woman and transformed her life, she ran back to town and started inviting people: “Come and See.”
She immediately went to her town and brought her friends to the well to hear Jesus for themselves. This simple invitation resulted in His staying in their town for two days. Many of these men and women became His followers.
Many people are excited about what God is doing in their church, and in their own life.
Come and see, is a great invitation to give.
Dorcas’ Servant approach — Acts 9.
Gifts of hospitality, the welcoming of strangers, acts of service to those in need are all viable forms of evangelism. It’s a tangible way of expressing the love of Jesus.
Lee Strobel Explains:
Philip – The Chance Conversation (Acts 8)
To this list, I would add “Chance Conversations,” based on Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.
The conversation between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch demonstrates the kinds of evangelistic conversations I love to experience.
A spiritually thirsty person is drawn by the Lord to a particular time and place. They are ready to take another step towards Jesus.
At the same time, I am led to meet that person and be the one God uses to bring that person into His kingdom.
The influence of Becoming a Contagious Christian
The greatest contribution this book makes is the recognition of various evangelism styles.
This list has become a fountainhead for a lot of other teaching.
For example, it is the foundation for Jeffrey Johnson’s work, “Got Style?” which helps your church decide the best evangelism course based on the church’s personality.
Read my review of Becoming a Contagious Christian and the important contribution it makes to evangelism training.
- Order Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg, direct from Amazon.
- Listen to this podcast that looks at personality styles and evangelism.
Let me ask you this?
What style do you see yourself fitting into best?
Better Evangelistic Conversations
Spiritual conversation is an art that you can learn. Over the years, I have learned to have more effective spiritual conversations with serious people searching for “something.”
I have learned and applied these four principles with great effectiveness in helping people discover Jesus.
- To watch for the nudge of the Holy Spirit
- To observe spiritual thirst
- To know where I am in their journey
- To help people take the next steps in their journey to Jesus.
You can learn these same principles and leave the formulas behind.
This Streaming or DVD set, Effective Conversations, is based on the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.