Anyone interested in reaching people for Jesus has to face the reality that culture is changing dramatically – and we have to respond by considering our methods and approaches to evangelism. I understand that reality, but some of the current thoughts about evangelism are worthy of debate. Let me know your thoughts about these positions:
- Cold-call evangelism no longer works. I’ve seldom seen this method to be overwhelmingly effective, but I still learn about people who come to Christ after hearing the gospel from someone they just met.
- Attraction/invitation evangelism is poor evangelism. I don’t think it should be the only way a church does evangelism, but I do want believers to so love being with God’s people in worship that they naturally invite others to hear the gospel.
- Gospel presentations must always begin with creation. I agree that theologically we must lead people to see they are accountable to a creator God. I’m not convinced, though, that every presentation of the gospel must begin there. Some people may be more immediately open to hearing about Jesus’ life-transforming power.
- Having an “altar call” is an unhealthy way to call people to a response. This method can certainly be abused, but it can also be a sound way to guide people to repentance and faith.
- Most people who are good evangelists have the gift of evangelism. I’m a professor of evangelism, but I’m not even sure there is a gift of evangelism. The role of the evangelist in Ephesians 4:11 does not automatically indicate there is a gift of evangelism.
- Doing social ministry is evangelism. My generation failed to do biblical social ministry, so I deeply appreciate the renewed commitment to these tasks. Until we get to the message of the gospel, though, I don’t think we’ve done evangelism.
- A “no” response is an indication to move on. Perhaps it is, or perhaps it’s an invitation to try to address the obstacles that hinder someone from believing. It may become an open door to apologetic discussions.
- Hell has no place in the evangelistic message. I don’t think it has to be part of every gospel presentation, but to ignore it is to ignore a teaching of the Scriptures.
- The “sinner’s prayer” is a problem. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. I land where Wayne Grudem lands: “Such a spoken prayer does not in itself save us, but the attitude of heart that it represents does constitute true conversion, and the decision to speak that prayer can often be the point at which a person truly comes to faith in Christ.”*
What are your thoughts? Let me hear from you.
*Wayne Grudem (2009-05-18). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (p. 717). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.