If you’re on the shy side like me, evangelism can sound scary. You may think, “how can I evangelize? I’m not a great public speaker, don’t feel safe going up to strangers in the street, etc.” Jesus’ command in Matthew 28: 19 is for all believers. But that doesn’t mean God works through every person the exact same way. There are many ways to share the gospel and make disciples. In fact, there are several methods of evangelism demonstrated in the New Testament. Here are six. Think about which of these would fit you and your situation, talents, and audience best.
This approach involves directly preaching the gospel, often to more than one person. Direct evangelism is straight to the point–less focused on building relationships or arguments and more on just getting the message out there in a strong way. One example of this is Peter’s address to the crowd at Pentecost in Acts 2. He directly lays out who Jesus is and what the crowd needed to do to get right with God. The direct approach is what many picture when they hear the word evangelism, but there are many other approaches as well.
An apologist is someone who defends a belief using logical arguments and evidence. An apologetic approach to evangelism focuses more on intellectual persuasion, perhaps overcoming a person’s hesitation by assuring them that the Gospel is true and trustworthy. These discussions may focus on history, science, or other issues that are important to the person being witnessed to. Paul shared an example of this in Acts 17:16-34 when he argued in front of the Athenians using their own culture and literature.
This approach relies less on intellectual argument and instead just focuses on telling a story–your personal story. You can simply tell how Jesus has changed your life or how you became a Christian. It doesn’t have to be miraculous or flashy, only true. In John 9, the blind man whom Jesus healed did just this before the Jewish leaders. He didn’t try to argue who Jesus was; he simply said, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25, NIV).
Many times evangelism and discipleship happen through building a personal relationship with someone. This approach takes time but can be very effective. If someone knows you genuinely care about them rather than seeing them as a potential “convert,” they may be more receptive to hearing about the gospel that’s changed your life. One example of this is Jesus eating with tax collectors and other “sinners” at Levis’ house in Luke 5:27-32. His calling came through spending time with them, eating, and talking.
Another way to share the gospel is by inviting friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc. to come with you to services, Bible studies, etc. at your church. They may be more comfortable going with someone they know, and you can help talk through the experience afterward. Another alternative is starting your own Bible study at your home and inviting people to that. John 1:46 shows an example of invitational evangelism when Philip invites Nathaniel to “come and see.”
Finally, in 1 Peter 2, Peter makes it clear that our actions are just as important as our words. As we share the gospel, we should remember that people are watching how we live and how we choose to spend our time and resources. Sometimes acts of service can demonstrate that we care about others and want their well-being, creating an excellent opening for sharing the good news of the gospel. Even if you’re not an outspoken person, you can speak loudly through your actions and demonstrate the love of Christ through your service and life.
As you go about evangelism, you may find you lean on one of these methods more than the others or practice several different ones depending on the situation. But whoever you are and whatever your talents, you can have an impact for the kingdom of Christ.
Feel free to share evangelism stories and other tips in the comments!