Recently, I led a workshop at an evangelism conference. And in the workshop, I shared my list of fundamentals of personal evangelism. This is a list of principles that I practice in my conversations and engagements with non-Christians who are exploring the Christian faith. Hopefully, this list might be helpful to you too.
But, first of all, a few preliminary remarks before I jump to the list. Evangelism can be misconstrued and also poorly executed. It is often misunderstood as marketing, “selling the gospel” or recruiting new converts. For me, it is simply sharing one’s faith or beliefs, bearing witness to what you believe and/or to what God has done in your life. It also involves, if you have the privilege, to walk with someone in their spiritual journeys. In an older post, Bad Evangelism, I have talked about bad evangelism, and poor executions or reductionist methods of evangelism.
Secondly, although this list is about personal evangelism, I want to emphasize that evangelism is not simply an individualistic effort. I believe you ultimately need a community to witness and disciple people. Evangelism is, therefore, a communal effort. But this often gets lost in all the literature and talk about evangelism. It obviously involves a personal one on one relationship or engagement, but it is more than that. I try to hint at it with my second to last principle listed below.
Fundamental Principles of Personal Evangelism:
- Get to know and respect people – LOVE them!
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Have integrity – people can smell hypocrisy.
- Be humble to learn from non-Christians and to admit “I don’t know”.
- Be willing to listen more than you speak.
- Speak, not to convince, but to witness – “this is what I believe”.
- Give personal stories of why you believe, not lectures on why others are wrong.
- You do NOT have to tell the entire gospel in one sitting!
- Think long term multiple dialogues, not one-time winner-takes-all debate.
- Remember that God has other witnessing agents in a person’s life besides you.
- Most importantly, PRAY since it is the Holy Spirit, not you, who save souls.
In one sense, all of these principles boil down to these two things: Loving your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39) and doing to others as you would have them do to you (the so-called “golden rule” in Matt. 7:12).
So, what do you think? Do you agree with my list? Is there anything to add? Or subtract?