Thursday, 13 April 2017

10 Suggestions for Evangelism

I know lots of people who want to share the Gospel but either don’t know where to start or are afraid of taking the first step. I thought it might be helpful to share some ideas or methods that can be used. There are some big suggestions that may be daunting. But, also, some more discreet approaches. Some are things you can do individually, others are for a church group or in partnership with a church. 

There is no “one size fits all” and no method that will necessarily be more effective than another. God chooses when to open a person’s heart and draw them to Him. Our job as Christians is to be faithful in planting the seed. Most importantly we need to pray about every contact with a non-believer.

  • Choosing and Distributing Tracts. A tract is a small leaflet containing a Gospel message. It can be on a particular topic or theme. There are good tracts and bad ones. Colourful or unusual looking tracts can be effective because they get a person’s attention. Ideally, choose tracts that clearly present the Gospel with at least one Bible verse—it is the Word of God that convicts. Some organisations offer sample tract packs—LivingWaters or Birmingham Gospel Outreach. If you don’t like any of the available tracts, you can create your own and even include your testimony. But, don’t make it too long and it’s a good idea to ask a church leader to check it over. Take tracts with you wherever you go and leave them in public places—trains, restaurants after a meal, shopping malls, libraries etc. If you are feeling bold you can write an email address for further contact. You could also give a tract to someone after a conversation. It’s always a good idea to say something about what it is if you do that. 
  • Door to Door. I know a church that uses a detailed street map of their town to plan their evangelism. A small team meets once a week for prayer, they then take tracts and church leaflets and put them through every door on every street detailed on the map. They have covered the entire town and started again with a new tract which means that every person in their area has had the opportunity to read the Gospel. It is also non-confrontational. Always make sure there are details if someone wants to ask further questions or to go to a church. 
  • Social Media. The internet has created opportunities to reach people around the world, even in closed countries. Make sure your social media profiles reflect your Christian faith. You could put Bible verses prominently on your pages or post them to walls. Like and share Christian posts. Write your own testimony and share it. Read and review Christian books and recommend them online, try to be honest! Don’t hide your faith online, make it obvious that you are different and try to bring biblical values into discussions. The Christian Institute deals with a wide-range of issues that impact Christians in the UK. Read and share their posts and consider supporting their work. 

  • Prison Writing and Visiting. The Bible specifically reminds us to remember those who are in prison. There are Christian organisations that facilitate contact with prisoners—Daylight Christian Prison Trust  and Prison Fellowship. Sign up as a volunteer and write letters to prisoners around the world. If there is a prison near your church, consider asking your church leader if you could organise regular visits to build relationships with the prisoners. The biggest need is usually for practical help on release from prison, make sure your church plans for this.

  • Street Evangelism. This is probably the most well-known form of evangelism and the most feared! But it doesn’t need to be confrontational. You could be a supporter—join a team preaching on the street and stand in the crowd ready to answer questions or to discuss what the preacher is saying with those watching. You could even just give out tracts to those nearby. Setting up a small book-table is a good way to start conversations and distribute Christian literature especially with the sad demise of many Christian bookshops. If you are led by God, get involved in the preaching yourself. It’s good to join with others and to be linked with a local church for follow-up with enquirers. Make sure you obtain permission from authorities for public spaces. There are Open Air Missions you could join or take a trip to a Speaker’s Corner. 

  • Personal Contacts. These are the people you already know through daily life—relatives, friends, neighbours, work-colleagues. They may be the most difficult group to witness to because they know you, have seen your ups and downs and you could risk losing the relationship. But, they are actually the people that you bear the most responsibility to witness to. You might be the only Christian they know--make sure your lifestyle and decision-making reflects Jesus. Try inviting them to a special event at church or include a Bible verse or tract in a card for a Birthday or Christmas. Offer them a Christian book that deals with an issue they are facing. It may not be necessary to keep hammering them over the head with the Gospel, but it’s really important that they hear or read it clearly at least once through your contact.  

  • Coffee Shop Outreach. There are a lot of churches now that have places where people can talk to a Christian informally. Sometimes these places sell books or host a small library which could be good for starting conversations. Independent bookshops are disappearing but church shops usually operate on a not for profit basis due to being charitable. You could get involved in this friendship evangelism or ask your church to consider beginning a ministry for this purpose. A lot of people have problems and need someone to listen, but face to face contact is being lost due to the unstoppable march of technology. People are lonely, give your time. 

  • Write a Book! Not everyone will have the ability, motivation or time to do this but it can be a great way to get the Gospel out there and to make people think about issues from a Christian perspective. Alternatively, start a book club with some friends or work colleagues and when it is your turn to choose, be bold and opt for a Christian one. Plan what you will say in the subsequent discussion to make the best use of the opportunity. 

  • Become an Online Evangelist. There are organisations that recruit online missionaries and evangelists. I volunteer for Need Him (formerly Groundwire.) We chat online to people all around the world who have questions about faith or who need spiritual advice. It is anonymous, there is training and a team leader oversees the conversations. If you have a few hours a week to spare, sign up now! 

  • Missions. Those who are called into long term mission work probably won’t need to read a post suggesting basic ways to evangelise! Short-term missions can be a good option for people who want to test the water. However, they can seriously damage long term work that is already taking place if they are not planned properly. That is part of a larger discussion, but the golden rule for STM’s is to make sure that you partner effectively with either a church or with long term workers on the ground that know what they are doing. Choose a mission that includes evangelism or if it is a specific practical project, that is facilitating future evangelism. Remember that help without hope is the ultimate tragedy.

I hope this list is useful and has given you some new ideas. Feel free to make suggestions as there are a lot of other ways to share the Gospel. Innovation can also be exciting. God created us all differently so maybe your idea will start a trend! In an adaptation of a quote from Chinua Achebe:

“If you don’t like someone else’s idea then come up with your own.”

 Matthew 28 vs 18-20
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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