A Balanced Approach to Evangelism

Evangelism is one of the most important tasks Christians will ever do, but many struggle with witnessing issues. How do I begin? Do I have to be pushy? What if I do it wrong and cause more harm than good?

Patipat RintharasriThese are good questions. Let me say first that one approach doesn’t work for everyone. Certain approaches work well for certain personalities. Some Christians find a very direct approach works well for them and some unbelievers may actually respond well to this kind of approach. Many Christians like me, however, feel very uncomfortable with a pushy witnessing style and many unbelievers don’t respond well to it either.

Face it, extremes in evangelism can do more harm than good. Let’s look at two different extreme models.

Make it Easy Approach

This style of evangelism isn’t pushy at all. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Just believe in Jesus and you can go to heaven when you die. Raise your hand or pray a prayer and God will bring you into his family.”

With this approach an unbeliever never has to deal with the sin in his life. He makes a quick decision, which he may not understand very well, and he is told he is now a Christian. The obvious danger is that many people may pray a prayer or walk an aisle and believe they are Christians when they really aren’t. This approach may give people a false sense of security rather than led them to genuine salvation.

Strongly Confrontational Approach

This is the opposite extreme of the first approach. “Have you ever lied? Thought an impure thought? Stolen anything? Then you’re a lying, adulterous thief! Why should God let you into heaven? Do you believe in evolution? Don’t you know how stupid that is? I’m right and you’re wrong. Just listen to me and I’ll straighten you out.”

Unbelievers have to deal with the sin in their lives in order to be saved, but we don’t have to push their faces into their guilt from word one. Some approaches I’ve heard remind me of a dog owner pushing a puppy’s face into a puddle.

A Different Approach

To be an effective witness, each Christian needs to work out an approach that works for him. Many times the hardest part of witnessing is turning the subject to lead naturally into an opportunity to witness. We need to find a way to share the gospel in a way that is inviting, or at least not offensive.

Here are some questions my friend Steve Brennecke uses to open conversations:

  • “Have you ever wondered who Jesus Christ really is, and why that could be important to you personally?”
  • “Have you ever wondered exactly why Jesus die