How I’ve Changed My Evangelism Strategy

I realize this approach isn’t always easy to do (and in some parts of the world, it’s not the best one), but I’ve changed my approach to most of my evangelism. I still most often try to evangelize in the context of relationships, and I do think relationships provide credibility to evangelize. In the past, though, I typically tried to find open doors or create “bridges” to share the gospel – and it increasingly felt like I was trying to sneak in a side door. Sometimes I caught myself not listening well because I was looking for that door. 

More often now, I simply ask for permission to tell my story. It’s as simple as this: “You know I’m a follower of Jesus, and one of our commitments is to tell others why He’s so important to us. May I take a few minutes to tell you my story?” Here are some reasons that approach works for me:

  1. I’m upfront in my request. That’s not to say that finding bridges is wrong, however; it’s just to say that I don’t have to spend as much time trying to find that bridge.
  2. If the person says, “yes,” I have a green light to press on. I don’t wonder if the listener is involved in the conversation. He or she gave me permission to speak, so I move forward.
  3. If the person says, “no,” I’ve at least started the conversation. That immediate time is apparently not the best time to talk more, but I’ve taken the first step in the direction of evangelism. Perhaps another time will present itself in the future.
  4. It forces me to evangelize concisely and clearly. I’ve asked for a few minutes. If I’m granted that time, I need to keep my word and present the gospel story with focus and passion.
  5. It often gives me opportunity to talk about Jesus. It’s not always the case that others want to listen, but often they’re willing to do so – perhaps out of politeness to me, or perhaps out of a genuine interest to hear. Either way, I have a wide-open door to talk about Jesus in my life.
  6. It helps me in evangelizing people I don’t know well. I’ve already said that relationships are important, but I don’t think we should evangelize only if a relationship is already in place. This method helps me to talk to people I don’t know, too. 
  7. It helps guide me in praying for others. How I pray for the person who hears the story is different from how I pray for someone who isn’t ready to hear it. I can pray with intentionality after these conversations.

I make no claim that this method is the best one or the only one. I’m still learning, and I’d love to learn from you. What’s working in your evangelistic efforts? 

15 Comments

  • Rhonda says:

    Would like to hear what you would actually say as you share the gospel through your testimony.

  • Derick says:

    I was going to ask a similar question (as Rhonda)… I’d love to hear your story & how you do it in a few minutes.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      My approach is really as simple as Paul’s approach in Acts 26 — my life before Christ, how I came to know Christ, and how my life has changed since I met Christ.

      I was 12 when a classmate told me a story that I’d never heard before — about the fact that I had “sinned” against my Creator, and that sin separated me from Him and sent me in the direction of death and hell. But, God loved me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for me. He died in my place, came to life again, and invites me to follow Him by turning away from my sin and trusting Him. I didn’t understand all that, but I’ll tell you that the story kept me awake at night thinking about it. I decided to go to church one time (primarily, to get my persistent Christian friend off my back), and something happened that day. The preacher told us the same story my friend had been telling me, and he invited us to talk with him if we wanted to learn more about Jesus. I did, and he helped me to pray to Jesus, confess my sin to Him, and ask for forgiveness. I still can’t explain it all, but my life changed that day when I became God’s child. I knew I was loved. I knew I mattered. I knew I was forgiven. And, I slept like a baby that night, no longer worried about death. Since that day, the peace that God has given me inside only grows. No matter what I face, I know He is with me — and I’ve never regretted that decision to follow Jesus.  

  • Phil Miglioratti says:

    Thanks Chuck ~ sharing with the LOVE2020.com movement: Praying for lost neighbors. Caring for personal and community needs. Sharing the good news of the Jesus story.

  • I don’t think we have to “win the right” to share the Gospel, but I definitely commend you for being willing to examine and change your strategy and be flexible in conversation. When Jesus said, “the harvest was ripe” that opened the floodgates for evangelism.
    With that said, your point on maintaining attention and not always looking for an opening is excellent. There are indeed pros and cons to both, but the point is to share the Gospel. Good job.

  • Ed Davidson says:

    People don’t wait on a relationship to discuss the weather & sports, so why hold back on the good news. In fact sharing Christ with a complete stranger is Biblical and makes sense. If you let God, He’ll use all our circumstances to connect to Jesus the good news. Obviously telling the story of how Jesus set us free from sin is huge, and you can either ask permission or discern from their response to your Spirit-led greeting how to proceed. I’ve had a young man mock an elderly lady’s prayer over a burning house in the neighborhood, and then after claiming to be a Muslim, admit that he needs Christ 15 minutes later. Most people are receptive to the gospel outright but occasionally someone thinks I’m judging them, and that’s when my story helps them understand that if God can save a sinner like me… anyway thanks for the encouragement to keep being Christ’s ambassadors!

  • Keith says:

    I always hear your heart when you write and that’s a good thing. Active listening, listening for what the person is really saying is so important. When people know they’re heard, they open up more and relax in your friendship because you demonstrate genuine care, even if only in the span of a few minutes.

    Yes, it’s not easy to really hear when we’re looking for a window of opportunity to share the gospel, but the good news is that it is good news for every moment o the opportunity is always there (almost).

    The thing I hear you saying is that you want to listen and not just for an opportunity (although neither of us would deny the necessity or beauty of the gospel that presses us to make the message known). The Gospels certainly portray Jesus listening that way—with care for the person in front of him and concern that they hear the truth, way, and life.

    Blessings friend.

  • John Meador says:

    Appreciate the article, Chuck. It’s such an important issue today. We’ve found a lot of success in the simple approach of “Can We Talk?” You can find out about it at http://www.oneconversation.org. There are many good ways to share the gospel – we need to pick one and use it!

  • Cindy says:

    I’ve never been told “no” when I’ve asked, “Can I tell you a story?”

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