Evangelization is a huge buzzword these days. Pope Francis especially keeps telling us to hit the streets and encounter people, but most of us don’t quite know what that means practically.
So if you want to evangelize but you’re not sure how or where to begin, we’ve got 10 practical tips for you! Check out this video before we break it down:
1. Pray for people by name
Chances are, you already know people who haven’t heard the Good News! (That’s what “gospel” means, fun fact.) In your prayer time, take their names to God. God “at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.“ (Ephesians 3:20) Ask Him for opportunities to share the faith with them and trust His timing as you build relationships with them in advance of those conversations.
2. Go out into the world
Don’t just hang out in the “Catholic bubble.” Like-minded friends are important to nourish our faith, but we can never forget our duty to invite others into the family. Jesus tells us His Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) While it’s certainly easier to spend time with other Christians, we are called to go out of our immediate circle and reach those who would never receive an invitation if we didn’t reach out. Jesus became incarnate and lived among us; we follow His example when we go out on campus and meet other students where they are, whether in class, sports team, a club, or a Greek house. (And of course, this applies to life beyond the campus, too!)
3. Be Bold
Introducing yourself to someone you don’t know can be scary. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need. Have courage! It might be awkward at first, but as we like to say, “Heaven is worth the awkward!”
4. Extend Personal Invitations
How many invitations do you have sitting in Facebook events right now? And how many do you actually plan to attend? Chances are the events you attend are the ones where someone took the time to seek you out an invite you. Invite someone to an event with you! Your personal invitation might reach the person who needs a friend.
5. Share life: i.e., Be with them on their turf
Find things that you and your friends can do together, even if it isn’t something you love doing. Sacrifice your own preference to do the things they love. Evangelization isn’t just an intellectual endeavor! As you spend time with your friends, doing things they love, you earn the right to be heard. Your friends will trust your recommendations about movies, books, restaurants, etc. They will see that you live your life differently — that your joy, trust, and confidence in Jesus make you different than everyone else, and they’ll want to know why.
6. Share your story
Your story is powerful! If you’ve never thought about it before, consider writing down how you came to know Jesus. How did you decide to follow Him? Saint Peter tells us to“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for your hope.” (1 Peter 3:15) No one can argue with what you’ve experienced, so always be ready to share when someone asks!
7. Practice hospitality wherever you are
You can put others at ease with simple acts of kindness, like being the first to start a conversation or introducing a newcomer to everyone else in the group. Hospitality doesn’t mean that you have to always be the one who brings the pizza — but you could invite a quiet person to take the first slice!
8. Share the gospel with a specific invitation
Sharing the gospel is the heart of evangelization! There are a lot of ways to share the story of Jesus, but at its core, the gospel includes four main points: 1.) You were made for a relationship with God. 2.) Sin (those times when we choose not to love others as we should) creates a chasm between you and God. 3.) God became man in Jesus, and he died for your sins to repair your relationship with God. 4.) Every human person has the opportunity to have a relationship with God if they accept God’s invitation!
When you’re sharing these points with a person in a conversation, you can encourage your friend to accept God’s invitation using a question like, “Would you like to invite Jesus to be the center of your life?” If they say no, let them know you are still their friend and continue to pray for them. If they say yes, celebrate and pray with them!
9. Encounter Christ together
Your friend’s commitment to making the Jesus the center of their life isn’t a one-and-done deal. Now you can run together toward the goal: heaven! Continue to invite them to spend time with you and to come to know Jesus more deeply. This might mean going on a retreat or a mission trip, attending a FOCUS SEEK conference, attending RCIA together — and, of course, continuing to spend time together doing things you love to do.
10. Teach others to do the same
Teach your friends how to evangelize too, and do it together! Saint Paul writes, “What you have heard from me…entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well”(2 Timothy 2:2). Jesus sent His apostles into the world by reaching out to individuals who would be able to teach others. You can fulfill the call to evangelize by developing deep friendships, inviting people to follow Jesus and teaching others to do the same!
Say the word “evangelism” and most Christians think it means memorizing a technique to use on victims! But the truth is, the best evangelism relies on building authentic relationships.
A Christian lady once said to me: “I didn’t know I was supposed to develop compassionate relationships with unbelievers. I thought I was supposed to keep my distance.”
You might think that sounds ridiculous! Yet she raises an important point. How do we get authentically involved in the lives of unbelievers and not compromise our walk with God?
To do evangelism Jesus’ way, we need to radically identify with others and yet be radically different.
What this woman needed to hear—and what all Christians need to hear—is that, to do evangelism Jesus’ way, we need to radically identify with others and yet be radically different.
Think of the stereotypes the world has of Christians: stand-offish and judgmental—the last person you’d ever invite to a party! Yet Jesus was delightful! He went to weddings and parties. Children adored him. His love was extravagant, not timid. The people of Jesus’ day thought that holy men could only be found in the synagogues. But Jesus’ work was mostly in the market place.
Think about it—in the incarnation, Jesus radically identified himself with humanity. Jesus understood our human experience from the inside out! Jesus came from heaven into a particular place and culture. He learned their language; understood the values and desire and pain of those he met. Jesus moved into the neighborhood and established relationships!
And so must we… We must take time to understand the doubts and spiritual questions our friends wrestle with. We aren’t to shout the gospel at a safe and respectable distance and remain detached. Jesus shows us that we must open our lives in authentic loving ways to others. Jesus never treated people as merely evangelistic projects. He established real relationships with real people.
Jesus never treated people as merely evangelistic projects. He established real relationships with real people.
Here’s the challenging question to ask yourself: Are you involved in authentic friendships, and sharing not only your faith but your life with at least one seeking friend? Are you radically identified with them? Or do you spend most of your time as part of a “Holy Huddle”?
Jesus was also radically different. Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He was holy, and calls his people today to be holy as well. Jesus shows that to identify with others isn’t the same as being identical. If we are identical, our witness will be ineffective. But if we’re Christians, the gospel has made a radical difference to us—and our lives should show it!
So how do we demonstrate radical difference?
1. We display Christ’s love. One of the greatest detriments to outreach is when unbelievers can’t see God’s loving presence in us. We must look like the Christ we are proclaiming—both through acts of kindness on a personal level, and through our church communities. If people do not see practical evidence of the love of Christ, they will be reluctant to listen to the message we share.
2. We declare God’s truth. The good news is that God has broken into our silence. He has spoken through his Word—the living Christ. There is much talk today about our need to be cutting-edge and relevant. But as Simone Weil, the French philosopher, has said: “To be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.” In other words, true relevance lies in speaking eternal truths, because God’s truth transcends culture.
If we’re Christians, the gospel has made a radical difference to us—and our lives should show it!
Here’s why declaring God’s truth will make us radically different: By and large, the world hasn’t a clue what Jesus was really like. Unbelievers don’t realize how radical, how beautiful, how extraordinary Jesus is. I’m a perfect example. I didn’t come from a religious home. But if I’d been asked what I thought of Jesus in my agnostic days, I would have said Jesus was nice, kind. The kind of person everyone loved but especially your grandmother…
Then one day I looked at the New Testament: Instead of a mild, meek man that I expected—I found a man of profound passion who said, I’ve come to set the earth on fire! Isn’t it a profound irony that the Son of God visited our planet and one of the chief complaints against him was that he wasn’t religious enough?! Do you realize the appeal Jesus will have to skeptics? He is irresistible!
My big fear
Do you know what I fear? I fear the world looks at us from the outside and concludes that Jesus’ primary task is to help us read our Bibles every day and to keep us from swearing. But when we invite non-Christians to look at the biblical Jesus… they begin to understand that Jesus wouldn’t walk away from someone struggling with a sexual addiction; or an eating disorder; or depression. He also has a great deal to say to the people who feel they have no problems or needs. And he doesn’t ask us to come to him once our lives are “tidy.”
People struggle to imagine a God who gets deeply involved in messy, needy lives. It’s our job to point them to the living Christ—to allow them to see the real radical Jesus who alone offers us the living water that quenches our thirst. To do that, we must both radically identify with them—but also live lives that show we believe in a Savior who is radically different.
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Rebecca Manley Pippert
Rebecca Manley Pippert regularly speaks on spiritual renewal, evangelism and character formation for church conferences, at schools and colleges and in pastoral training seminars. Becky has written several books on evangelism and Christian living, including the best-selling Out of the Saltshaker and Stay Salt.
It’s nearly impossible to consider oneself a Christian and not take the responsibility to share the gospel with others seriously. Still, it is easy to become completely overwhelmed by the thought of of personal evangelism. “What if I mess it up? What if I say something wrong? What if I do more damage than good?”
Take heart. Sharing your faith isn’t as fraught with dangers as you might think, and it doesn’t have to be a cause for anxiety. You can learn to evangelize fearlessly.
1. Don’t try to win an argument.
Peter clearly lays out the best way to share your faith, and that’s to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
When you think about it, this is brilliant advice. You have a hope. All you need to do is communicate where your hope lies and why. It shouldn’t have to deteriorate into an argument. If they don’t understand, don’t take it personally. A lot of these discussions devolve out of defensiveness. The poise and respect you show in this discussion will either give credence to your faith or diminish it.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t respectfully disagree and discuss various perspectives. But the minute you feel like it’s slipping into a zero-sum argument, it’s time to disengage. If you properly maintain the relationship, you’ll have more opportunities for discussion.
2. Be wise about how you incorporate Scripture.
There was a time when the Bible was revered in the culture. Whether people followed Christ or not, they were generally familiar with Scripture and held it in some regard. That’s not necessarily the case any longer (especially if you’re sharing the gospel with someone from a less Christianity-dominated culture).
It’s important that you don’t assume everyone shares your view of Scripture’s authority. If your answer to every question is “well, the Bible says,” you risk losing someone’s interest who doesn’t attach any validity to what the Bible says.
That’s not to say that your discussion can’t lay out some reasons why you trust Scripture’s authority. But it may take some time to learn how the Bible came to us and some of the interesting ways that the Bible validates itself.
Scripture is God-breathed and useful in evangelism—but remember that not everyone you evangelize to understands this.
3. Don’t start with a good people/bad people perspective.
When you start with a point of view that “good” people are Christians and “bad” people aren’t, it taints the conversation. The message of the gospel is that “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son” (John 3:16), and that’s the best way to share the gospel.
If the individuals you talk to discern that you believe the world is a terrible place full of awful people who could only become valuable if they chose to follow Jesus, they’re going to assume that’s your opinion of them as well. This immediately puts them on the defensive and can derail the entire discussion.
4. Be careful how you treat people’s traditions.
It’s a good rule of thumb to present a positive case for your faith instead of focusing on what’s wrong with someone else’s beliefs, traditions, or perspectives.
Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time learning about the differences between your faith and someone else’s. That’s great! You can use that understanding to communicate the strengths of your position without to needing to attack someone else’s experience.
Paul’s experience in Athens is a good example (Acts 17:16–34). He actually compliments their devotion before he goes into a discussion of what God had done for them in Jesus.
5. Pray for opportunities.
Nothing is more awkward than a clumsy transition from a “normal” conversation into spiritual one. When done poorly or forced, it makes your friends feel like a project and that your faith is the pretense for the entire relationship.
The most important thing you can do is pray for opportunities to share your faith, and the wisdom to recognize them when they appear. Trust that God is more interested in their salvation than you are, and he’ll take your requests for opportunities seriously.
Sharing your faith is about practice.
There’s really no way around it. The first couple of times you step out and share your faith, it’s going to feel really unnatural. You’re going to feel anxious and worried about whether you’re overdoing it or not giving it enough emphasis—and good heavens, how will you handle it if they want to become a Christian?!
The only way to overcome these little fears is to move forward anyway. You’ll find a way of communicating that is comfortable to you, and you’ll learn that navigating all of the “what ifs” isn’t as scary as you imagined.
So pray for those opportunities to share the reason for the hope you have!
At some point, every Christian has had a family member, a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who is not a Christian. Sharing the gospel with others can be difficult, and it can become even more difficult when it involves someone with whom we have close emotional ties. The Bible tells us that some people will be offended at the gospel (Luke 12:51–53). However, we are commanded to share the gospel, and there is no excuse for not doing so (Matthew 28:19–20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).
So, how can we evangelize our family members, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances? The most important thing we can do is pray for them. Pray that God would change their hearts and open their eyes to the truth of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Pray that God would convince them of His love for them and their need for salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Pray for wisdom as to how to best minister to them (James 1:5).
We must be willing and bold in our actual sharing of the gospel. Proclaim the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to your friends and family (Romans 10:9–10). Always be prepared to speak of your faith (1 Peter 3:15), doing so with gentleness and respect. There is no substitute for personally sharing the gospel: вЂњFaith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about ChristвЂќ (Romans 10:17).
In addition to praying and sharing our faith, we must also live godly Christian lives in front of our friends and family members so they can see the change God has made in us (1 Peter 3:1–2). Ultimately, we must leave the salvation of our loved ones up to God. It is GodвЂ™s power and grace that saves people, not our efforts. The best we can do is pray for them, witness to them, and live the Christian life in front of them. It is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).
Watch the video above and talk about it with a group or mentor. Learn more.
Have you ever wanted to tell your friend, family member, or co-worker about Jesus but you didn’t know where to start? In Colossians 4:2-6, Paul gives simple instructions on how to reach out to non-Christians.
Colossians 4:2-6 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
Paul first asks the church to pray that he will have opportunities to share the gospel and that he will have the right words to those that question his message. In this first tip, be sure to pray for opportunities to evangelize, the right words to say, and that the person you speak to will be receptive to the message.
After prayer, Paul discusses how Christians should live wisely among non-believers. One should always be honoring God, but being “brave” and “meeting people where they’re at” are less-practiced concepts. Have courage to talk to non-believing friends and engage in activities that they enjoy. For example, if you have a friend who plays soccer, play soccer with them. If you have a friend who likes music, strike up conversations about the bands they like.
Have Conversations That Are Gracious and Seasoned
Every conversation will be different in evangelizing because every person is at a different point in their walk with God. For some people, inviting them to church is a good step, but for others, it would be best to hang out and get to know them better. In each instance, be gracious. If your friend is not receptive to Jesus, have the courage to make sure your interactions are “seasoned.”
Evangelism is a difficult for some people. Sometimes people aren’t receptive to your message, and you’re unsure if you even have the right words to say. Remember the above tips: pray for courage and conversations, live wisely among non-believers, and speak truth in love. With these concepts in mind, evangelizing to friends should be a bit easier.
One-Verse Evangelism ® is a simple, interactive way to share Christ’s love conversationally and visually. Using just one verse, it’s easy to learn, and you can write it anywhere. One-Verse Evangelism shares the powerful message of the gospel in a 10 to 15 minute conversation.
Many times we feel that to be effective in evangelism we have to create complex illustrations and memorize a seminary-worthy number of verses. But the gospel is most powerful when shared with love, clarity, and (sometimes most importantly) simplicity.
One-Verse Evangelism is a simple, interactive way to share Christ’s love conversationally and visually. It is based on asking questions and sharing truth simply. It’s easy to learn because it uses just one verse. One-Verse Evangelism can be shared in just 10 or 15 minutes, but can have impact for a lifetime.
Here’s a brief look at how it works. Let’s say God is leading you to share the gospel with your neighbor, Jeff. Write out Romans 6:23 on a piece of paper or a napkin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). All you need is contained in this single passage. Ask Jeff if he would like to see a simple diagram based on this verse that will explain God’s relationship with mankind (us).
Circle the word “wages” and ask, “How would you feel if your boss refused to pay you the wages that were due to you?” The answer, of course, is that he would want justice—in this case, the wages he had worked for. Deep down, we all know that it is only right that we get what we deserve. Similarly, we earn “wages” from God for how we have lived our lives.
Draw a circle around “sin,” asking your neighbor Jeff what he thinks when he hears this word. You might explain that sin is more an attitude than an action. It can be either actively fighting God or as simple as excluding Him from our lives. You can ask, “Has God ever seemed far away?” If he says “Yes,” you can explain that that’s one of the things sin does—it makes God seem far away. Now draw two opposing cliffs with a gap in between.
Circle this word and ask what thoughts come to mind. Explain that death in the Bible always means some kind of separation—in its most basic sense, separation from life. Because God is the author of life, a spiritual death simply means separation from Him.
While circling this word, mention that it is important because it means that a sharp contrast in ideas is coming. What we have just looked at is the bad news; what comes next is the good news.
Draw a circle around this word. Ask, “If wages are what a person earns, then what is a gift?” Remind Jeff that though every gift is free for the person receiving it, someone still has to purchase it.
Circle this and explain that the gift you are talking about is free. It is from God Himself. It’s so special that no one else can give it. Ask, “How do you feel when someone gives you a special gift?”
Circle these two words next, and then ask, “How would you define these words?” Contrast one side of the cliff, death, with the other side, eternal life. Ask, “What is the opposite of separation from God?”
Write these words so they create a bridge between the two cliffs. Help your friend to consider that just as every gift has a unique giver, only Jesus Christ can give the gift of eternal life.
Write this word over the bridge you just drew. Explain that a true friend is a friend you can trust, and tell Jeff that Jesus is offering to be a true friend to him. All Jeff has to do is admit that he is responsible for his sin—either of fighting against God or excluding Him from his life. Trusting Jesus means believing that He has power to forgive us for rejecting God and that He will wash us clean from all that we have done wrong in life. At this point, you can ask him if he wants to start a relationship with God that will last forever. If he says “Yes,” invite him to pray a short prayer in his own words, asking Jesus to forgive him and make him new.
Close by reminding him that this simple illustration shows what God is like: Someone who really cares about people—especially him. Invite him to read all about it in the Bible–the Gospel of John is a great place to start.
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God has called each of us to partner with him in his redemptive plan. Some of the greatest joys in the Christian life come from making Jesus known to those who don’t yet know him personally.
As the body of Christ, we are Jesus’ hands and feet on earth to continue the work that he began. As finite beings we do not have the foresight of knowing the cravings and challenges of each individual we meet; however, God knows the deepest secrets of every person. Through the Holy Spirit he is more than able to speak through us to touch the depths of the human heart. Only the Spirit can give us the words to convict and compel others to follow Christ.
Here are 10 things I have personally found to be helpful for sharing my faith.
Be led by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6, 9-10). Like Paul in Acts, I continually ask the Holy Spirit to lead me to people whose hearts are ripe and ready for the harvest. Consider asking the Holy Spirit to lead you to those who are desperately searching for more in life and will be open to God.
Gain God’s perpective. What is your motivation for evangelism? Are we just doing it because it is the Christian thing to do? Are we doing it to try to please God by our good works? Are we doing it to try to grow a bigger church? Pray and ask your Father to give you his heart for the lost. When God shares his breaking heart with us, we will share his burden for the lost.
Discern soul cravings. I believe everyone has cravings for purpose, meaning, and significance in life. By listening to and speaking into a person’s cravings, you can delicately awaken them to recognize that the fulfillment of all their deepest cravings can bestt be found in God himself. Learn more about soul cravings.
Develop relationships. Jesus was the complete expression of the Father’s love to the world; the love of God flowed like a spring of living water from the life of Jesus. I believe that in many cases, God’s love can be more compelling than scientific evidence of God or a theological argument. Is God’s love flowing through you? Are people in your life compelled by how passionately and personally you care about them? If you have few non-Christian friends, try this challenge to move beyond the walls of the church.
Share your story. You have a very powerful story and God wants to use it! People will be most compelled by your thoughts and experiences because they know you. If Jesus is a tangible reality in your life, others will see that and want it. Here’s some help to craft your story strategically.
Be empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Learn to look to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to take over the conversation. Know with confidence God will lead you and give you the right words to say to the right individuals.
Be patient and faithful. For many people evangelism can be very discouraging because they don’t see immediate results. Though the ultimate goal of all evangelism is to lead people to Christ, it may not happen overnight. We must remember that only God knows when the seeds we plant will bear fruit.
Remember that people are on a journey. Each person is in a different place (or approaching a different spiritual threshold) in their journey, and some may not be ready to fully commit their lives to Christ. Our responsibility is to simply lead them further down the path and bring them closer to finding a relationship with Jesus.
Pray unceasingly. One of the most essential components of evangelism is prayer. You may have loved ones or friends for whom you have been continually praying for years. Do not give up hope! Prayer is the catalyst that initiates God’s will being done on the earth.
Remember that it’s not up to you. Campus Crusade for Christ founder and lifelong evangelist, Dr. Bill Bright, had a very simple and powerful definition of success. He said, “Successful witnessing is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” That’s it. Isn’t that encouraging? If you have taken the opportunity to talk about Jesus with someone in the power of the Spirit, then you have been successful.
If you are involved in training or teaching others to share their faith, check out our series, Exponential Faith, a collection of 10 practical articles for those who are new at sharing their faith.
Matthew 4:20 is one of the many Biblical verses that puzzle me. After Jesus invited two brothers, Simon and Andrew, to “Follow me,” the text says that “immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus.” Leaving their nets meant leaving everything that Simon and Andrew knew. It meant saying farewell to the familiar. Leaving everything so quickly…with so little information about Jesus…doesn’t “ring true” to me. Why in the world would they do that?
But, the verse starts to make sense me when I read the Apostle John’s insight in John 1:35-51. John explains that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist before he was a disciple of Jesus. And when John the Baptist told Andrew and his other disciples on two occasions that Jesus was the Messiah …. they took it seriously …. because they trusted John the Baptist. Out of Andrew’s trust in John the Baptist, he invited his brother Simon to come and meet Jesus. Simon did just that and developed a relationship with Jesus. Then, Jesus met Philip in Bethsaida and invited him to “follow me.” Philip, Andrew and Simon Peter were all from Bethsaida. They must have spent time in their hometown discussing Jesus’s invitation to follow him. Now the story starts to make sense. The first disciples had time to get to know Jesus and to talk with one another before they followed Jesus. Then, Philip invited Nathanael, whom he knew well, to “come and see” if Jesus is the Messiah or not. Following Jesus did not come out of the blue…it grew naturally out of trusting relationships. This should be a clue to us about the importance of relationships in the work of evangelism.
I saw the principle of “relational evangelism” operative in the lives of my parents …Karl and Hazel Tewell of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania…home of the 6 Time Super Bowl Champion Steelers! (I had to get that in somewhere!) Both of them had a lively faith in God and a love of people of all ages. Although my parents had an authentic prayer life and an appreciation for the Bible and Christian theology, they did not use lots of “religious language.” The phrase that I would use to describe them is “contagious joy.” There was plenty of laughter in our home. My parents radiated the joy of living. In many ways they were “human magnets” who attracted lots of people to their church in Pittsburgh…just by their contagious joy and their genuine compassion and concern for people. When our church would have a special musical concert, or a Scottish Sunday with drums and bagpipes, or a class taught by a noted author, they often invited friends to come with them… and then to come to our home for dinner afterwards. Their invitations had what author Howard Thurman would call…” the sound of the genuine.” They were not phony or manipulative. My parents rang true. As a result, countless people professed their faith in Christ and joined Southminster Church in Pittsburgh because of a relationship with my parents.
To be honest, I learned how to authentically follow Jesus simply by watching my parents live their lives. I “looked over their shoulders” and saw a living example of Christian discipleship. In fact, I thought of my parents when I read these words (below) by William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas in their book, Resident Aliens:
“The manner in which most of us became Christian was by looking over someone else’s shoulder, emulating some admired older Christian, saying yes to and taking up a way of life that was made real and accessible through the witness of someone else. So, although books, films, and lectures may play a part in confirmation, they will all be subservient to the main task of putting young Christians in proximity with exemplary older Christians, “mentors,” we shall call them, who will invite these younger Christians to look over their shoulders as they both attempt to be Christian.” — Resident Aliens, William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas
There are three spiritual principles that I have found helpful in thinking about “relational evangelism:”
- The invitation to explore a relationship with Jesus grows naturally out of conversation. When Nathaniel found out from Philip that Jesus was from Nazareth, he asked a refreshingly honest question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip did not get defensive…he simply replied, “Come and See.” Relational evangelism grows naturally out of a conversation. It is never forced! No one can “manipulate” someone into starting a relationship with Jesus Christ. Rather, the best evangelism is when a person asks questions, and we invite them to “come and see” …. and we walk with them as they wrestle with their questions…and the answers.
- Evangelism is not about us…it is the work of the Holy Spirit! As Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, “No one says Jesus is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit.” Evangelism is the work of the Holy Spirit through human relationships.
- Different strokes for different folks. Faith develops in different ways… that are consistent with the life of that individual. God is not “a cookie-cutter God” who wants everyone’s spiritual experience to be the same. Rather, God treats each one of us as the unique individuals who we were created us to be. Our unique personhood is at the very heart of evangelism. The truth is that God wants to know us! And God can’t live without us! And God wants to know and love us… forever!
That is why the three keys to evangelism are…relationships, relationships, relationships!
by Chuck Lawless
Church Answers Consultant
By Chuck Lawless
Even as a professor of evangelism, I have to continually push myself to do evangelism. For what it’s worth (and frankly, as a matter of accountability), here are some steps I’m taking to move in the right direction:
- Ask God daily to let me see people as He sees them. I tend to see people as the driver in the car who cut me off, the cashier at the gas station, and the neighbor whose name I don’t know. God sees them as sheep without a shepherd and souls for whom Jesus died.
- Ask other believers to pray at least once a week that I will speak the gospel boldly and clearly. This approach is nothing more than what Paul asked the Ephesians and the Colossians to do for him (Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:2-4). If Paul needed that kind of prayer support, I surely do.
- Ask God to renew my fire for Him. The bottom line for me is this: I do evangelism when I’m most amazed by Jesus. That’s why I wrote Nobodies for Jesus , and now I’m being challenged like never before to apply personally my own teachings.
- Pray by name for non-believers at least once a week. I often pray every day for some non-believer, but I have also set up one weekly focused time for praying that God would open the blinded minds of non-believers (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
- Strive to speak a good word about God to somebody each day. God is so majestic and His blessings are so numerous that I have no reason not to speak of His goodness. Even if I daily speak those words to only a believer, I develop the practice of moving conversations toward God.
- Force myself to get to know people I don’t know. I’m an introvert who would prefer to read a book, but that tendency obviously hinders evangelism. With God’s grace and in His power, I’m learning to push myself out of my shell.
- Offer to pray for others. Simply letting people know I’m committed to praying for them can open doors for deeper conversations. Life hurts sometimes, and folks who bear burdens alone are often both surprised by and appreciative of the offer of prayer.
- Commit to telling a non-believer what Jesus means to me at least once a week. If one of the above strategies doesn’t open this door, here’s the approach I take: “I’m a follower of Jesus, and I’ve made a personal commitment to tell others what He means to me each week. May I have five minutes to tell you my story, and you help me to know if anything is unclear?” I’ve been surprised by how many people are open to listen.
- Use social media to tell the gospel. I need to do evangelism face-to-face, but the Internet also provides multiple avenues for telling others about Jesus. I do not want to miss any opportunities.
- Just be obedient because I want to please God. Anything less than a lifestyle of telling others about Jesus – and initiating those conversations because it models our God who came to us while we were yet sinners – would be disobedience.
What other steps would you add to this list?
Posted on April 29, 2020
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
More from Chuck
Think back to the last time you heard that a friend of yours had started a new relationship. How did you hear about it? Did a leaflet come under the door? Did someone invite you to hear a presentation about it? Did your friend lend you a book that recounted the new couple’s first kiss? Or did the news reach your ears because someone—even the friend in question—told you?
The message about Jesus is good news, and like all good news, it is most naturally and effectively shared in interpersonal conversations. As with any such communication, it involves sharing, asking questions of the other person, and listening to their thoughts and perspectives.
Conversational evangelism isn’t a recent idea dreamed up by people who don’t like preaching. It was Jesus’ preferred approach. Reading over Jesus’ interactions with people in the gospels can provide you with inspiration and direction for your own conversational evangelism. In John 4, for example, Jesus has an interesting encounter. The short version is this:
Jesus is walking through Samaria, and stops to sit down. A woman approaches him and he asks her for a drink. They talk and he asks her to go and find her husband. She replies that she has been in a string of broken relationships and her current man is not her husband. She then asks Jesus a question about the temple, and he tells her people can worship God anywhere. She asks him about the Messiah, and he says that he is the Christ. She runs off and tells her whole village to come and meet Jesus.
It’s a simple and famous story. It’s also a conversation that provides a great model for you to use too—one with the primary goal to help people see Jesus more clearly and respond to him.
Here are six things Jesus does with the Samaritan woman and ways you can emulate their interaction:
1. Start Conversations with Anyone
The person Jesus talks with in John 4 is a Samaritan – the hated enemy of the Jews. She is also a woman, which means that a Jewish man would never normally speak with her alone. However, Jesus is happy to initiate conversation with her as soon as she walks into his presence.
Everyone has good friends with whom they naturally spend their time. But there are so many other people to interact with: in lectures, dorms, the cafeteria, the supermarket, the coffee shop, or even at the bar. Why not see every person you meet as a potential conversation partner?
2. Adjust Your Life Patterns to Make Conversations Possible
Jesus met the woman while he was on a journey, but he could have made the trip in a way that avoided Samaria. Instead, he intentionally takes a route into enemy territory so that he can connect with people who need him.
Join a sports club, start going to a new café every week, shop at a different store, or sit next to someone new in your lectures. If you’re not regularly getting to talk to people who need Jesus, make some small changes, so that you can meet new people.
You might also want to consider whether you are spending too much time in Christian meetings. Maybe trade one or two chapter or church events for the opportunity to do things you enjoy with people who don’t yet know Jesus.
3. Chat about Everyday Life
Jesus begins by asking the woman for a drink of water. He doesn’t leap in and say, “Hey, let me tell you about the Messiah—he’s me!” He knows that any serious and authentic conversation is just a hair’s breadth away from the gospel.
Tell them a story about your day. Ask them how their week has been, what they’ve enjoyed eating, reading, or watching lately. Discuss sports scores. Start light and see where the conversation goes. The worst that can happen is you have an interesting chat.
4. Ask Questions
Jesus suggests that the woman go and find her husband. He could have told her she was using romantic relationships as part of a futile search for meaning. Instead, he asks a razor-sharp question that gets to the heart of who she is as a person.
Don’t think of yourself as the expert with all the answers. Until you’ve asked your conversation partner some questions, you may not even know quite how to relate the gospel to their lives. You can read more about asking good questions in Why You Should Ask More Questions in Spiritual Conversations.
5. Listen to Questions, Then Answer the Question Behind the Questions
The woman wants to know whether the Jewish temple or the Samaritan temple is the one true place of worship. Jesus isn’t interested in debating the finer points of historical theology unless they are relevant. He knows she is asking him to state whether Jews or Samaritans are following one true religion. Instead, Jesus points her beyond religious places and toward relationship with himself.
Try not to get caught up in arguments, but get to the core of their concerns. For example: A question about the biblical teaching on homosexuality is not necessarily an invitation to explain biblical sexual ethics. The underlying question may be something else like “Am I welcome in your Christian community?” or “Do you look down on me?” A good way to discern the underlying question is to say, “Why do you ask?” or “Good question, what do you think?” and then listen to what they say.
6. Share Jesus
The pinnacle of Jesus’ conversation with the woman comes when he tells her that he is the Messiah. She is so amazed by this that she runs off and brings the whole village to come and meet him for themselves.
A helpful question to ask yourself (and the Holy Spirit) is “How is Jesus good news for this person?” Is there a story about Jesus or an aspect of his atonement that is relevant to what you are discussing? Or is there a part of your personal testimony that would be helpful? Share it and ask them what they think.
If people seem receptive, then it’s also good to give them the opportunity to respond to Jesus. Maybe ask them if they would be interested in welcoming Jesus into their own lives. If they say yes, find a quiet corner and pray together.
Jesus never had the same conversation twice, so there is no real formula for sharing our faith any more than there is for telling people about new romantic relationships. But we can draw inspiration from Jesus’ interactions with people.
Why not start some Jesus-style conversations and let us know how it goes? Share your experience in the comments below.
Just a few days ago I posted a tweet that got a bunch of online traction. Here’s the tweet…
I was surprised at the number of comments, retweets and likes it got. To me, the tweet didn’t seem that profound. But, as I think about why it may have struck such a nerve, I’m convinced it’s because failing to motivate and equip our teens in evangelism is a HUGE MISS in the typical discipleship strategy.
The average Christian high school senior is not motivated, equipped or expected to actively share the Gospel. No wonder so many abandon their faith after high school! They have no skin in the game!
Evangelism puts teenagers in a situation where they are forced to rely on God. It also causes them to “count the cost” of being a follower of Jesus (Luke 14:25-35) because to share the Gospel, especially with a friend, could mean losing that friendship. And that very risk is a huge counting of the cost of what it means to be a follower of Christ in a post-Christian culture.
With this as a backdrop, let me give you a brief overview of what I mean by Gospel Urgency, Fluency and Strategy. Along the way, I’ll point to a few helpful resources for both parents and youth leaders alike to improve in these three areas.
1. Gospel Urgency
“…snatch others from the fire and save them.” Jude 23
There is a hell that unbelievers are headed to and going through apart from Jesus. Teenagers need reminded of this. We, as believers, are the redemptive hands of God, to rescue them from the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15.)
I’ll never forget a teenage girl, approaching me after I preached about the reality of hell at a Dare 2 Share event. She asked me, “Why has my youth pastor never talked to me about hell?” With tears in her eyes she explained to me that she had no clue that her friends were going to suffer God’s wrath forever in the flames of hell someday unless they heard and believed the Good News of Jesus.
Although I can’t answer why her youth leader never told her I can ask you a similar question: Have you talked to your teenagers about the reality of hell, the hope of heaven and the power of the Gospel to rescue their friends from the eternal consequences of sin?
But it’s not just the hell they are headed to that teenagers need rescued from, it’s also the “hell” they may be going through right now apart from a relationship with Christ! Teen suicide, anxiety, drug use and depression among teenagers is skyrocketing in this pandemic. They need snatched, not just from the flames of hell someday, but from pain, addiction and hopelessness today.
In Matthew 9:35 we read about how Jesus saw the crowds around him, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” May we learn to help our teenagers see their lost peers through the eyes of Jesus!
Start with Gospel Urgency.
2. Gospel Fluency
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16
So what is this Gospel, that both we and our teenagers, should not be ashamed of? It is a simple message of hope. Somehow, this message is infused with the power of God to rescue the lost from the power and penalty of sin.
I don’t know how God infused a stick (Moses’ staff) with enough divine power to rescue the Israelites by parting the Red Sea, but he did. I don’t know how God infused a simple message, the Gospel, with enough divine power to rescue the lost from sin, but he did.
Our teenagers must learn how to be fluent in the most powerful message in the history of humanity…the Gospel.
Gospel Fluency is the ability to articulate the whole story of the Gospel in a clear, cogent and compelling way. At Dare 2 Share we use an acrostic that spells out G.O.S.P.E.L. Here it is…
I’ve met people who were trained at our Dare 2 Share conferences decades ago (and who are now full grown adults) who can still articulate the G.O.S.P.E.L acrostic. That means they are ready to share the Good News of Jesus anytime, anywhere, with anyone.
Are you? Are your teenagers?
For help in equipping your teenagers in G.O.S.P.E.L. Fluency go here and download our free Life in 6 Words curriculum for FREE! Here’s a quick preview:
3. Gospel Strategy
“As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” Acts 17:2
Paul had a strategy for reaching his fellow Jews and God-fearing Gentiles for Christ. He went into the Jewish synagogues and used the Old Testament to share the Gospel.
Your teenagers need a strategy too. That strategy must start in prayer, getting your teenagers to pray for their lost friends, classmates, teammates and family members by name. Then they must care for them by loving them, listening to them and serving them like Jesus. And, finally, they must share the message of Jesus…out loud with words.
At Dare 2 Share we highly recommend the Life in 6 Words app as a great way for teenagers to get started. It has a place where they can input the names of their friends into a “ Cause Circle ” where they can be prompted to pray for them on a regular basis.
The centerpiece of the app is a simple way for teens to share the Gospel with their friends by swiping through the G.O.S.P.E.L. sharing screens on the app and explaining each point as swipe through it. As I often tell teenagers, “ If you can swipe and read you can share the Gospel using the Life in 6 Words app. ” It’s free on your App Store by the way!
Here’s a short video that shows even more of the amazing functionality of the Life in 6 Words app.
Perhaps you have another strategy for teenagers sharing their faith. Great! Use it! The methodology doesn’t matter nearly as much as the clarity of the message.
Teenagers need to have a burning Gospel Urgency, basic Gospel Fluency and a practical Gospel Strategy if they are going to be ready to make a difference now and after they graduate from high school. I hope these tools and recommendations will help you equip your teenagers more effectively.
As an ending thought, I’d encourage you to take a look at Dare 2 Share’s week-long summer student leadership training called Lead THE Cause. It’s the best thing we do to train both teenagers and youth leaders in these three keys to effective evangelism.
Bible Study and Teaching on how to Evangelize the Lost
Many churches and pastors publish posts about Learning How to Evangelize the Lost. The Truth is that some people are exactly what they call them: lost! And you cannot evangelize the lost. Lost people are not savable by definition and will not receive the True Message of Jesus.
In these posts, they either give the reader some generic and empty instructions that doesn’t work, or they simply teach various psychological and manipulation techniques on how to circumvent objections and bypass rejection of the Gospel, and how to convince people who are not inclined to believe anything about God and they teach to do so through certain words that aim at triggering an emotion in them, or the like.
Some perhaps might be convinced through various psychological techniques of manipulation, but that’s, first of all, a sin on your part if you make use of it, because manipulation is a type of witchcraft and people who utilize witchcraft are going to be condemned by God. Witchcraft is sin as it is an ungodly use of power that gives somebody the ability to control the environment around them and/or the ability to control others.
1 Samuel 15:23 – “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
Deuteronomy 18:10 – “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer.”
Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever made use of witchcraft. They never preached using manipulation methods, nor did they ever try hard to convince anyone who objected to their teaching and rejected the Gospel. They taught the Truth, simply and plainly, and were pretty straight forward, never in a confrontational way, never in pride, never in anger, always in love, and whoever loved God received the Message gladly and whoever didn’t love God rejected the Message and God rejected them.
Mark 6:11 – “Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!”
You cannot make people love God. They either do or don’t. And God doesn’t love everybody, He loves those who love Him, He is their Father, they are His children and they are dear and precious to Him.
Secondly, if you have to employ psychological and manipulation techniques, which are witchcraft, to circumvent their objections, bypass their rejection of the Gospel and you have to work hard at convincing them about God or Jesus, it means that even though it appears that they received the Message, in reality they didn’t, and it won’t be long before they turn away from God or stray away from the Truth and go on following another gospel. This is because the Holy Spirit is not in them.
The Holy Spirit in the Bible is also called “Spirit of Truth”, because it leads believers into all Truth, It shows them the Truth about everything, uncovering all the lies and deceptions of this world, especially false doctrines about God and the Bible.
John 16:13 – “When the Spirit of Truth has come It will guide you into all Truth. “
1 John 5:6 – “This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is Truth.”
But if somebody strays away easily from the True Faith and the True Message and won’t repent if you preach them the Truth, that is a sign that in their heart dwells a spirit of error, instead of the Spirit of Truth/Holy Spirit.
1 John 4:6 – “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
And God won’t give them ears to hear if their heart is hardened towards Him and repels the Truth, because if they would rather believe and follow a lie, it means that they don’t love God, it means that they actually hate Him, they always have and always will.
When you hear churches and pastors preach or publish posts about Evangelism of the Lost, be aware that they are lying to you and are practicing sorcery through the deceptive use of their words and they are making you waste your time with something that won’t bring any fruit to the Kingdom of God. They will use manipulative words even to describe evangelism itself, giving you a full list of the joys and benefits that it brings to see others come to Christ and will never tell you that out there you will encounter lots of unbelief and rejection. While it is true that leading someone to Christ and then to Salvation will give you great joy, it is also true that if their faith is not for real, they won’t be saved in the end and will be lost. If you are sharing with them sound biblical doctrines and they have objections that come from unbelief and rebellion to God, there won’t be any manipulation methods that you can be trained to use that will save them.
Somebody who rejects the Gospel is not teachable and won’t understand the Truth; they are simply lost, and by definition will not be saved.
There are no techniques that a true Christian can or should use to effectively Evangelize the Lost, there are no Tips for Evangelizing the Lost that we can give you; they are not “evangelizable” and any technique is a sin. The only tool a Christian can and should employ is the Truth of the Word of God, preached in love, but fearlessly. Anything else apart from this is a waste of time. And this is the only tip that we can give you based on everything the Bible teaches.
In these days of marketing, we have learned to mistrust those who promise us good things. In this context, the New Testament verb “to evangelize” can frighten us. We are embarrassed to propose our faith to someone else, as if we were trying to sell something. And we are so deeply concerned to respect others that we do not want to give the impression of imposing our own ideas or to try and convince others. Especially when it is a question of a subject as intimate as trust in God.
But do we really know what the New Testament means by “evangelizing”?
In Greek, the verb is used for the expression “to announce good news”: someone who is “evangelized” is basically someone who has been “made aware, brought up to date.” The verb can be used to announce a birth, an armistice or the inauguration of a new leader. It has no religious meaning in itself. And yet it was that word, almost too commonplace, that Christians used to describe the most precious aspect of their faith: the announcement of Christ’s resurrection. What is interesting is that, gradually, the word lost its complement. People didn’t say “make someone aware of Christ’s resurrection” but simply “evangelize someone.” This was obviously to save time, but that lack of a complement also has a deeper significance.
To proclaim the Good News of the resurrection is not, for Christians, to speak of a doctrine to be learned by heart or a piece of wisdom to meditate on. To evangelize means above all to bear witness to a transformation within a human being: because of the resurrection of Christ, our own resurrection has already begun. By his infinite respect towards those he encountered (visible through the acts of healing we find in the Gospels), by taking the lowest place so that no one would be lower than him (that is the meaning of his baptism), Christ Jesus restored worth and dignity to every person. Still more, Jesus was with us in death, so that we could be close to him in his communion with the Father. By this “admirable exchange” (Easter liturgy), we discover that we are fully accepted by God, fully welcomed by him just as we are. The Christians of the first centuries summed this up by saying, “God became man so that man could become God!”
To evangelize thus does not mean in the first place talking about Jesus to someone but, on a much deeper level, making that person aware of the value he or she has in God’s eyes. Evangelizing means communicating these words of God that rang out five centuries before Christ: “You are precious in my sight, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). Since Easter morning, we know that God did not hesitate to give everything so that we would never forget what we are worth.
Can we “evangelize” someone while respecting his or her freedom?
Causing people to realize their worth in God’s eyes is not something optional. Paul even goes as far as saying, “Woe to me if I do not evangelize!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). For him, evangelization is the direct consequence of his attachment to Christ. Through his resurrection, Christ unites us inseparably to God. No one can ever again feel they are excluded from that union. And at the same time, humanity is no longer fragmented: since the resurrection, we belong to one another.
Still, the question remains: how can we communicate that news to people who know nothing of God and seem to expect nothing from God?
First of all, by our personal attachment to Christ. Paul said, “You have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Evangelization calls us to start with ourselves. It is first of all by our life, and not by words, that we witness to the reality of the resurrection: “To know Christ and the power of his resurrection and a sharing in his sufferings, coming to be like him in his death, so that [we] might finally attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). It is by our assurance, by our serene joy in knowing that we have been loved from all eternity, that Christ becomes credible in the eyes of those who do not know him.
There are situations, however, when words are necessary. Peter puts it well: “Always be ready to reply to whoever asks you the reason for the hope which is in you” (1 Peter 3:16). Of course, speaking of an intimate love requires much sensitivity. And sometimes it is hard to find words, especially in situations where faith is brutally called into question. Jesus knew this well, and he said to his disciples, “When you are brought before (…) the authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you need to say” (Luke 12:11-12).
Because Christ clothed himself in our humanity and we have clothed ourselves in Christ, we should never be afraid of not knowing how to speak. In the Christian vocation of not choosing those they love, but of receiving everyone without discrimination, there is a generosity that is touching, and even more, that encloses someone in the life of Christ. In our capacity as servants, we share our garment with those we serve, a bit like Jesus who, when he washed his disciples’ feet, “took off his garments” (John 13:4). It is above all the disinterestedness of our acts that will speak for us; it will authentify the words we speak.
The process of gaining customers and generating sales is long and time-consuming – especially for B2B companies with a long sales cycle. By the end of a closed sale, it can be easy for both the sales and marketing teams to figuratively “wash their hands” of the customer and move on to closing the next batch of leads.
But there’s a problem with this approach. The problem is that some of the greatest value generated from a customer comes after the close—or beyond the funnel.
Entrepreneur and business leader Rory Vaden explains it like this in his article, The 7 Stage Customer Evangelism Lifecycle :
You don’t need customers who are pleased with their experience and so they tell no one.
That’s neutral and neutral is negative.
What you need is customers who are so on fire about what you have provided to them that they have no choice but to take to social media and spread the positive love to all of their friends in the same way they would tell them about a great movie.
Here’s how sales and marketing professionals can create go beyond the funnel to evangelize customers and boost revenue:
Provide Excellent Customer Service
It may be obvious, but the first step to evangelizing customers is to provide great customer service. Customers are much more likely to come back if they enjoyed their purchasing experience – that’s a no-brainer.
After they have purchased, however, there is even more you can do to bring them back for future purchases:
Offer special discounts: Your customer’s purchase history indicates which products and services they are most interested in. Email customers when the things they normally purchase from you are on sale or in season, or reach out to customers when their renewal or anniversary date comes up. Reward their loyalty to your business with special customer-only discounts or perks.
Follow-up: A follow-up call or email ensures that everything went well with their first purchase and gives your business the opportunity to nip and issues in the bud before your customer turns to social media to voice any frustrations. Following up also keeps your brand top of mind and reinforces your relationship with the customer.
Survey: It’s easy to develop products and services in a vacuum, but you don’t know for sure how they will be received until you listen to your customers. Collecting anonymous survey data can help you pin-point areas you can improve to make the customer experience better. Taking time to listen to customer feedback can turn one-time purchases into repeat business and referrals when your customers tell their friends and connections about their exceptional experience.
Generate Customer Referrals
Acquiring a new customer takes a lot of time, money and hard work. That’s why customer referrals are so important to your business. Consumers are much more likely to invest in products and services when a peer makes a recommendation – here’s how to boost your customer referrals:
Ask for referrals directly: Getting referrals can be as easy as asking a question. After speaking with happy customers, a member of your team can simply ask the question, “would you recommend our product to others?” The worst they could say is “no.” If they answer, ask them who you could call about the product. You can also create a simple email that asks your satisfied customers for referrals – after all, sometimes the happiest customers are the ones you never hear from.
Keep a list of references: Sometimes a reference from a happy customer is the final incentive a prospect needs to do business with you. Ask your happy customers if they would be willing to be a reference so you have a running list of folks you can reach out to and a moment’s notice. Try to build a list that includes references from each vertical – for instance, try to have a reference in each industry you serve so you can tailor the reference to the prospect’s unique perspective.
Collect testimonials and reviews: A simple email campaign to satisfied customers can help you gather testimonials for your website or reviews for industry review sites. Tip: Don’t bombard your customers with too many asks at once – they’ll get burnt out. Track your communication so you’re only reaching out quarterly or yearly.
Tap into social media: Peer-to-peer referrals are most widely generated by social media. Reward your customers for tweeting or posting about their experience to their social network. Using social media networks, you target your customers’ acquaintances or partner-companies and offer the same results you gave your customers. Make sure it’s easy to share your message. This includes social share buttons on your website and in your emails.
When it comes to post-close success, the greatest achievement you can make is to create product evangelists out of your customers. These customers will actively invite others around them, whether in person or online, to try out your product. They become mini-salespeople and also your most valuable relationships.
A successful sale takes work. An evangelized customer takes even more work, but the rewards are well worth it. Apply the principles above to ensure your customers keeping giving you value well beyond the bottom of the funnel.
It’s probably not a surprise that recent surveys and studies show that secularism is on the rise and church attendance is on the decline. But what may come as a surprise is that in our digitally-connected society, recent studies show that “social media” can be anything but social – in fact it may be leading to increased isolation and loneliness.
The people in your community are not exceptions to this phenomenon. So how do you reach a digital generation and show them that God’s plan is for people to be in fellowship and living in a faith community together? It just might take getting out of the church and out onto the streets of your neighborhood to meet, pray for, serve and invite. But how do you get started evangelizing to people in your community?
1) Meet people where they are
As a church leader you want people to come to your church, but in a society that was not raised on weekly church attendance, going to church is a foreign concept that may seem like more trouble than it’s worth. So instead of spending resources to get people to come in, you may have more success when you go out – build relationships and demonstrate God’s love before you invite people into your church.
Ideas to get started:
- Make yourself a regular at a local spot. Study, write and answer emails from a coffee shop or diner. As you build relationships with the staff and other regulars you may just be able to have deeper conversations. Plus you will hear the concerns, stresses and struggles that are key to your community.
- Get involved with local sports teams. This is an easy task If you have kids – and really something that you can encourage every parent in your church to mimic. Attend practices and games, talk to the other parents, make friends, learn about their lives and then invite them (or the kids) to church activities.
But even if your members are past the “soccer mom” stage, supporting the local High School or college football and basketball teams are still great ways to meet people, support the youth in your church and connect with other fans.
Another sports related option is to put together a team from your church to play in a local sports league – just make sure all your players are good sports and can honor and represent God well even in the heat of competition!
2) Become a Third Space.
Often church buildings are not fully utilized during business hours or during the evenings. By opening your building up to other organizations for meetings or as a location for classes, you are providing a new avenue for people to get more familiar with your facility and staff. You may even want to think about working with local organizations to house an after school program or a senior citizen’s activity space.
3) Pray for Your Community
You probably already do this instinctively but what about intentionally and corporately? We all know that prayer is powerful and we are even commanded to pray for our leaders. But what if you planned and executed a more purposeful prayer plan with your congregation, such as sending out small teams to walk through a neighborhood and systematically praying for each household? While that may sound like a big assignment, “Prayer Walking” can be a great way to not only cover your community with God’s power but also to strengthen the faith of your members.
So what is a P rayer W alk? It is physically walking “onsite” and praying a t the places you are trying to reach and change. Take a walk in the neighborhood around your house or church and stop for a moment at each home; ask God to meet that family’s needs, to bring them into relationship with him, and to enable you and your church to be a conduit to show them the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
Want to go even bigger, and organize all of your church’s prayer walkers? Well, it’s not hard now with a new app from Every Home for Christ (EHC). “Encounter Outreach” is a free mapping tool that helps mobilize the Church to reach their neighborhoods and cities with the Good News. Churches can organize multiple-group outreach initiatives and then view and track the collective stats – giving them a complete picture of the areas that have been reached as well as those that need additional attention. The app even lets users create a list of people they want to pray for and a list to follow up with.
Plus Outreach and EHC have partnered to give Churches FREE evangelism tools called Engagers that can be left at every home to start the conversation. The back of the Engager includes room for your church info so recipients can visit and learn more about Jesus. It’s a simple and powerful way to impact your community!
The saying “People don’t care what you know until they know you care” is really true; actions do speak louder than words. A good question to ask is what is your church doing to make a difference in the community? And the answers don’t have to be huge, complicated strategies that require a big budget, they can be as simple as recruiting a team of volunteers to help serve meals for the Salvation Army or local food kitchen, collecting supplies for a local food pantry, or organizing a backpack give away for a low income area.
One suburban church started delivering hot coffee and donuts to morning commuters at the train station one day a week and then serving hot cup of soup in the evenings. They were able to share God’s love to commuters, vacationers and the homeless population. Paired with other service activities, their church became known in the community as a church that cared and was willing to help others. What a great reputation to cultivate!
This one seems pretty obvious but being clear that your church wants new people to visit is a key step in evangelism. People are not familiar with church or Christianity may view church services more like a club meeting and may not realize that they are welcome to stop in any Sunday for service.
And offering multiple types of invitations multiple times is important – studies show that it takes up to 7 impressions before someone acts on an ‘ad’ and really a church invitation is just that. So take advantage of all the options open to your church including: Direct mail, personal invites, social media advertisements and events, doorhangers and outdoor banners.
Every Home for Christ’s website says this: “ONE ENCOUNTER WITH GOD – that’s all it takes to shake up and transform a person’s life. It gives hope to the hopeless, restoration to the broken, and healing to the hurting. It isn’t complex and doesn’t need to be elaborate. A simple word, gentle action, honest story or humble prayer has the ability to lead people to an encounter with God that changes everything. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been given the honor of playing a pivotal role in sharing the Good News with the world, inviting others to experience the saving love of God. When we intentionally interact with the people around us, we see amazing things happen!”
So make a commitment this ministry season to encourage your members and staff to get out into the community, meeting new people, listening to their stories, praying and serving needs and ultimately inviting them to meet Jesus. It’s time to hit the streets.
As a Christian I know that I’m called to lead others to Jesus. I do this by preaching the Gospel with hope of seeing others come to the Lord and into God’s family. I believe people today make evangelism more complicated than it truly is. For a while I believed the lie that in order to do this I had to have a big plan and go somewhere far to save people. I use to think that if the Church didn’t send me out into the streets then maybe I needed to go somewhere else.
One day I stepped outside of my house and got this revelation that changed the way I saw evangelism forever. I realized that the moment I left my house in the morning people would be walking and driving pass me by the hundreds every minute of the day. I remember telling myself “; Wow, how far do I have to go to reach a soul? They are all around me”. I continued by looking at my Facebook account on my phone and telling myself “; Man, With a touch of a finger I can tell someone in Japan right now about Christ”.
That day I picked up my Bible and I started to pray for God to show me more about what true Evangelism looked like. I came upon the story of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus was talking about a man who was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho when two robbers attacked him and left him for dead. As the man was on the ground two people who should have helped him left him there and went on with their day but the Good Samaritan (Jesus) stops and helps the man. He bandaged his wounds, picked him up, placed the man on his donkey and took him to an Inn. A safe place.
As soon as I read this I thought of the Church and how evangelism didn’t end with us telling the sinners about the doctor, it proceeded with us inviting them and bringing them into the hospital.
What breaks my heart is that we take pride in just telling people about the Lord, not knowing that most of these people just go right back to the places the enemy had them trapped in.
To my surprise as I read more about the Good Samaritan, I learned that after He brought the Man to the Inn, He spent the night with him. The next morning He went up to the innkeeper (you and me) the servants of God’s House and said this “Look after him and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” WOW! That told me that God cares about you and me as we care and serve others in the Church and even promises to pay us back if the weight of it was more than we expected.
If you’re reading this, I want to remind you that out there in the real world people will find a family and a place. For some, that family could be a gang and that place could be a Bar or a nightclub. If we tell people about Jesus but forget to tell them about the Church and God’s family we will end up doing the exact same thing those two people did to the man who got robbed in Jericho, Leaving him for dead in his sins with nowhere to go.
Want to be an evangelist in today’s world? Go and preach the Gospel and don’t believe the lie that inviting people to Church isn’t in God’s plan. Even if they live on the other side of the world it’s ok to encourage them to find a Church family. Jesus Himself came down like the Good Samaritan came down to rescue the lowest of the low.
Think of this, that for three years during his ministry Jesus could have done it all alone, Instead He invited people like you and me, people who at one point were robbed and beat up by the enemy, but God saw us and brought us to a safe place, His House, so that we can continue His mission and His Legacy.
“To be a good evangelist is to be a Good Samaritan”
As a church we do not believe in doing life alone. We want to pray with you.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: I’m joined this week by one of Ligonier’s teaching fellows and the editor of Tabletalk magazine, Dr. Burk Parsons. Dr. Parsons, why does it sometimes just feel so difficult to evangelize?
DR. BURK PARSONS: I think there are many reasons for that, Nathan, and I have wrestled with that question over the years, as I’ve been asked that question, as I’ve discussed it with others in the church. It’s a good question. And I think that depending upon our personalities and depending upon the way in which we typically go about our communication with people, particularly strangers, that a lot of this depends upon what we’re used to, our context, our community, the way we communicate, our personalities, and so on. But if we’re to boil it all down, I think across the board, in most contexts, if we were to look at Christians throughout the world, that one of the things that we all experience in it being difficult to evangelize is that when we evangelize, we are proclaiming a message to people that we know or we believe are in peril.
And so when we evangelize, we tell people about Jesus, we talk to them about the gospel, when we proclaim to them the good news of what God has done through Jesus Christ, by His Spirit, well, it all starts usually by talking to people about who God is and about who we are. And when we start talking to people about who God is, well, people have all of their own preconceived ideas about who their God is and what their God would do. And many people believe that God loves them just as they are, that God is pleased with them just as they are. And people don’t see themselves as sinners. And that’s where the rub is.
The problem is that people, generally speaking, think that they are already good with God. They think that God is for them. They’re for God, they have a good relationship with Him, and they’re fine. And that’s all they need. And so when you begin to talk with them about what their need really is, when you talk with them about the fact that they are sinners, when you talk with them about the fact that God is just and righteous and holy, and that God demands righteousness and holiness, not just our version of it or our attempts at it, but true, perfect righteousness and holiness that can only be earned by Jesus Christ and His active obedience for us. When we start to talk with people about how sinful we really are, how much we really need Jesus Christ and His righteousness and not our own—well, the truth of the matter is that hurts people’s feelings. And we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.
From the time that we’re young, our mothers teach us. They say, “Don’t hurt anybody’s feelings.” And “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” And so from the time we’re very young, we’re told, “don’t hurt people’s feelings” and “be polite,” “have good manners,” “say nice things to people,” “say kind things.” And that’s what we want to do.
And the difficulty in proclaiming the gospel to people who think that they’re good, who think that they’re basically at their very core good, who don’t really understand the depths of their sin, who don’t really understand that God demands a perfect righteousness, when you go to them and you talk to them about God’s just judgment, when you talk with them about God’s righteous condemnation, when you talk with them about the realities of hell, when you talk with them about the realities of death and sin and judgment, that hurts. And we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.
And in our day today, one of the greatest sins that anyone can commit anywhere is hurting someone’s feelings. So when we preach the gospel, there’s an element in which we have to help people understand why they need the gospel and why they need Jesus. And that can be very difficult for people to hear. And so, I think that one of the reasons—and there are many reasons it’s hard to evangelize—but one of the reasons is because when we do so, we have to get to the very heart of the problem, namely our sin, God’s righteousness, and our need for Jesus Christ.
Last updated on November 25, 2021
The question assumes that evangelism is something that should be done, and rightly so. Jesus gave the command to his disciples before He returned back to his Father. Let’s first have a look at how Jesus worded his command to go out and evangelize: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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.” (Matthew 28:18-20).
These few verses teach us so much about evangelism. First, let your witness always be framed by the certainty that Christ has all the authority and that He is always with you, till the end of the age! Second, evangelism should be purposeful: it should be aimed at producing followers of Christ. Third, evangelism should have great content: we are to teach the commands of Christ himself. Fourth, evangelism is very broad, the Gospel is for all the nations on this earth. And finally, people who decide to put their trust in Jesus should be baptized in the wonderful name of the Triune God, as a testimony of all that God has done and will be doing in the life of the believer.
Take the audience into account
When you communicate the Gospel, it is wise to take the audience into account. Aim to evangelize intelligently. A great example of this is Paul on the Areopagus in Acts 17:15-34. The people of Athens love discussion and the exchange of new ideas. Paul tries to build a bridge to his audience by referring to the altar of the unknown god which he found in their city. His speech, or sermon, is quite philosophical, which suits his audience well. You should also be aware of how much your audience already knows. A Buddhist has no concept of a Creator God, so it is wise to start there. With a Jewish or Muslim audience, there will be much more common ground from which you can start to build.
Try to find a way of evangelism that connects with the needs of your audience. In the secularized and individualized West, evangelism through the Alpha Course seems to work quite well. Every evening starts out with a meal together and the evangelistic bible studies take place in a friendly, informal atmosphere. This might be just what lonely people are longing for. In a society with closely-knit communities, try to find a person who might introduce you to the whole community, or to a whole family.
Look for a way of evangelism that suits your own personality. Not every person feels comfortable with proclaiming the Gospel publicly and boldly. Some people are more like Andrew, the brother of Peter, who quietly introduced his brother to Jesus (John 1:40-42).
Evangelism can be very hard. Sometimes people seem to be so unresponsive, even hostile. Remember the parable of Jesus about the four different kinds of soil (Luke 8: 4-15). There is soil with lots of rocks in it, and there is good, fertile soil. Just be like the sower who sowed the Gospel everywhere; God will give fruit as it pleases Him. Try out different ways of sowing, don’t be discouraged if one particular approach doesn’t work.
Let your witness be soaked in prayer (Ephesians 6:18, 19). Ask God for guidance whom to talk to and in what way. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. Be prepared to jump at opportunities, even when they pop up at inconvenient moments (Ephesians 6:15). And, make sure that your words are backed up by a lifestyle which puts Christ first!
Within a society where people know the gist of what Christianity teaches but words such as “converts,” “evangelism” and “proselytize” are increasingly associated with religious zealots, abusive cults and violent terrorism, it’s becoming more difficult to communicate faith-based ideas without being offensive or perceived as a close-minded bigot.
Historically, evangelism has sometimes been used as a weapon to hurt, shame, guilt and induce fear. Its longtime associations with obnoxious street preachers, sleazy televangelists and corrupt organizations make it even less appealing to the public—and to Christians themselves.
Being on the receiving end of bad evangelism means suffering through preachy presentations that are contrived and superficial. Instead of hearing something honest and truthful, it’s often just a sales pitch with quick answers and no room for questioning, doubt, skepticism or critical thinking. Theology is presented as black and white, doctrines are non-negotiable, and entire populations are predestined to either a blissful eternity in heaven or a torturous afterlife in hell.
As a Christian, I’ve never once enjoyed being evangelized to, whether it was regarding Christianity or any other belief. Why? Because the context is usually extremely uncomfortable and the premise is built upon the preconception that you’re wrong. Instead of a conversation about faith, evangelism can feel more like an aggressive prosecutor grilling you for a crime you didn’t commit.
Can we pray for you? Do you believe in Jesus? How do you know you’re saved? What church do you go attend? What version of the Bible do you read?
Obviously, comfort shouldn’t be the deciding factor for whether we evangelize, and Jesus instructed us to carry out the Great Commission regardless of whether it’s easy or difficult, but our entire concept of evangelism needs to change. Here are five principles Christians should apply when evangelizing:
1. Make It About God
Evangelism isn’t about promoting yourself, a pastor, a church or a denomination. It’s not even about heaven or hell. Instead, it’s ultimately about a relationship with Jesus— about revealing God.
2. Be Motivated Out of Love
Too often, evangelism is driven by hate, distrust, guilt, shame, bitterness and fear. It shouldn’t be about stats, fulfilling a quota, self-righteously patting yourself on the back or reinforcing your own beliefs. If evangelism isn’t motivated by love, just stop doing it.
3. Be Honest
We mistakenly assume our faith testimony should be rehearsed, without error and perfectly tidy—but this isn’t the messy reality of life. Honestly, we don’t have all the answers, and our faith isn’t about knowing everything—instead it’s about knowing God. Above all else, be real.
4. Be Graceful
The Gospel isn’t about proving others wrong. It’s about sharing the love of Christ. Evangelism should be full of patience, empathy, dialogue and mutual appreciation—full of grace and understanding. Learn, listen, and never approach someone with an attitude of moral superiority—always be humble.
Can the Devil Really Make You Do It?
5. Be Respectful
Evangelism isn’t hijacking a family while they’re walking to a baseball game or yelling at a bus full of helpless passengers. Sometimes we need to learn to tone it down and prayerfully wait for the right opportunity to come along.
We mistakenly assume evangelism should consist of high-pressure tactics, confrontation and in-your-face strategies. More often than not, it’s the complete opposite.
In many cases, we’re more comfortable talking with people we don’t know than those who are closest to us because we don’t want to cause pain or discomfort to those we love—so we randomly approach strangers, where the stakes—and consequences of our actions—are lower. Using street evangelism-style practices aren’t always bad—but be respectful.
Overall, evangelism is increasingly seen as counter-cultural and distasteful—it’s a social faux pas. Secular society is—understandably—tired of hypocritical Christians trying to change people, especially when it’s done out of selfish ambition, to promote agendas and without love.
So what should modern evangelism look like? For Christians, the answer is Jesus. It’s dedicating our lives to helping those in need, feeding the poor, taking care of the sick, representing the oppressed, fighting injustice and sacrificially serving the world around us, wholeheartedly loving others without expecting anything in return. We should emulate the life of Jesus to the best of our ability. God help us.
In OM in Belgium, we talk about evangelism as “wide sowing” because we want to see a HARVEST!!
Our vision is to see each person in Belgium have a chance to respond to the Good News of Jesus, and to see the Kingdom of God expand across Belgium.
Why do we do this? Because Jesus left this as our mission (Matthew 28:19-20). and because many people in Belgium haven’t heard what the Good News of Jesus Christ is all about. So we want to be bold and courageous and reach out to those God puts on our hearts and our paths.
Creative and Relevant
We want to evangelise – share this Good News – in creative ways and in relevant ways. We want to follow where God is moving and listen to how the Holy Spirit wants us to work alongside Him.
We want to engage in evangelism in creative ways, being open to new ways of doing things and looking at different ways that we haven’t explored before. We also want to engage in evangelism in creative ways because we know that the arts speak deeply to the hearts of the Belgians. We know that most Belgians have had some sort of arts training and have a deep affinity and appreciation for the arts. We know that by using the arts to evangelize, we are speaking truth directly to their hearts, and not just engaging their heads. So we want to tap into this resource and take advantage of the many creative gifts on our team.
We also want to engage in evangelism in relevant ways because we want to reach each Belgian or person living in Belgium with the Gospel in a way that speaks particularly to their life experience. We want to go past the stereotypes that Belgians might have of religion and religious people, and expose them to the powerful, life-changing relationship that Jesus offers us.
Also, many Christians in Belgium want to evangelize but don’t know how or are afraid to. So we want to be practitioners in evangelism and we want to be able to disciple others in evangelism.
We also want to keep learning what it means to evangelize well in our Belgian contexts. We want to keep learning how to evangelize creatively and relevantly. And in this time of growing online opportunities, we want to learn how to take advantage of this tool to reach out to people through social media and other online platforms.
We continue to be creative and relevant through long-term evangelism projects (arts ministry, prison ministry, relationships, . ) and we continue to develop short-term opportunities (Easter campaign, arts experience, visiting teams, . ), remembering that short term events always play into the larger, long-term vision.
All of this will lead, with God’s help, to the establishment of vibrant communities of Jesus followers all across Belgium.
February 6, 2019
What we can learn from St. Paul’s bold proclamations of faith
Late January is rich in the celebration of saints involved in the work of evangelization. On January 25th, we celebrated the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, and on January 26, the memorials of Sts. Timothy and Titus, companions and friends of St. Paul. Reflecting on their lives and examples of witness to Christ is an opportunity to consider anew that question which the Church must ask in every age: How to evangelize today?
With changing technologies, philosophies, and structures of human interaction throughout the centuries, we have adopted our modes of outreach to share the Gospel with those who have not yet heard it and those who need to hear it again. Evangelization has had to both work around and adopt for its own mission an unending list of cultural phenomena from the Roman Empire to social media.
The beauty of this type of adaptation is how visible it makes the subordination and perfection of all things to Christ. In utilizing certain technologies or arrangements of human society for the purpose of evangelization, one can see how these things are good in themselves, but only find their true purpose when aligned with the will of Him who sustains all things.
St. Paul is the perfect model for this. In Acts 17:17, Paul “argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there.” In doing so, he worked within the functioning system of human communication in order to make a case for the Gospel to anyone willing to listen. And, in doing so, he caught the interest of the philosophers of the day, the Epicureans and Stoics, who took him to the Areopagus, a rocky hill where the Athenian council met in antiquity, and asked him to tell them more.
This sets the stage for what is truly an epic Biblical scene—St. Paul, with all the intellectual elites of Greek society surrounding him, proclaiming from the heights of the city, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (17:22-23). His subsequent speech is brilliant in its eloquence and in its ability to introduce the truths of the faith by explaining why that faith is the answer to the important questions and assumptions of the existing religious and philosophical traditions of Greek society.
We thus learn from St. Paul two important principles of evangelical method—first, to make use of existing methods of communication for the purpose of evangelical mission, and second, to introduce the message in a relevant and meaningful way, but without sacrificing the truth.
So, what are today’s existing methods of communication? Where is the rocky hill on which we can stand and proclaim the news of the Gospel? The answer which now always seems to be the first to come to mind is social media—how we get our news, stay in touch with our extended family, share our political and religious opinions, and reconnect with long lost friends. The Areopagus and town square are no more, and the Facebook home page is supposedly here to stay.
Certainly it is essential that we make the Gospel message available, accessible, and attractive through these channels. And, when used appropriately, they can do truly good things. However, to make internet evangelization the sole focus of our efforts is incredibly limited and even a hindrance to joyful proclamation of the truths of the faith. Not only do we see increasing research on “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles,” which prevent people from being exposed to people of differing views from themselves, but also the tendency to scroll past everything but the most eye-catching, easy to digest graphics. How can we possibly reach new people, show them that we care about them and are interested in their lives, and have confidence that what we are sharing is actually being read?
What would have been a part of Paul, Timothy, and Titus’ everyday experience—public speaking, lively in-person debate, and generous in-home hospitality—have become for us revolutionary new tools for the work of evangelization. Social media is our century’s new technology and central mode of communication, but to really be heard in this age, it could end up being a technology we need to work around. It simply may not be suited to the real substance of evangelization. We might do best to follow St. Paul’s example at the Areopagus literally in this century, and proclaim the Gospel actively with verbal speech.
Unfortunately, in this era of isolation, standing in the town square proclaiming the Gospel might look like one is talking to oneself. Today, sharing the Gospel with people we have not yet met requires going forth boldly into the realm of real human interaction—becoming friends with our neighbors, inviting people into our homes, and having honest, meaningful, in-person discussions with those whom with we disagree. It requires actively seeking out people with whom we can share the Gospel, in all of its truth.
Like St. Paul, we should be able to say “I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (Romans 1:16). As Pope Francis exhorts us, we must go to the peripheries! And, we can take heed from Pope St. John Paul II, who reminds us that “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” ( Redemptoris Missio 3).
Organizations seeing the most benefits from Artificial Intelligence (AI) work are more likely to be true believers in cognitive capabilities. Indeed, AI high performers, as identified by McKinsey, invested more of their digital budgets in AI than their counterparts, were more likely to increase their AI investments in the next three years, and employ more AI-related talent, such as data engineers, data architects, and translators, than their counterparts.
Winning over the end users of AI-enabled capabilities is just as – if not more – important to your success.
“Winning support for AI across the business is crucial for CIOs and other IT leaders hoping to scale their programs,” says Dan Simion, vice president of AI & Analytics at Capgemini North America.
How to make the case for AI and build support: 11 tips
To successfully earn buy-in and sponsorship from C-suite executives and line of business teammates alike, there are several moves IT leaders can make:
1. Create excitement within IT
The implementation of AI across the entire Lenovo organization is enabling greater efficiency and effectiveness. But, says Arthur Hu, Lenovo Group’s vice president and CIO, in the past, there has been a gap between strategy and execution. Keep your eye on the macro picture, he advises. “AI is constantly changing, so during strategic planning, I encourage my team to talk about the lifecycle of technology that is currently in use around the company,” says Hu, who asks his team to consider what’s ready for retirement and what’s headed for the mainstream. “By letting my team get creative, it naturally builds momentum and develops excitement.”
[ Check out our primer on 10 key artificial intelligence terms for IT and business leaders: Cheat sheet: AI glossary. ]
2. Get executives involved to match AI to digital transformation strategy
Success requires plenty of input from senior executives. “Executives need to work with their AI teams to ensure that the AI system’s input and output will be aligned with their overall digital transformation strategy,” says Justin Silver, AI strategist at AI platform provider PROS. “Collaborative strategy sessions that bring together executives and AI researchers can bring broader visibility to AI initiatives and keep AI research and development efforts tethered to key needs of the business.”
3. Assemble other advisory councils
“When making [changes] like this it is important to connect and host advisory councils with your organization’s partners, suppliers, and employees to gain their insight and opinions on implementation,” Hu says. “By doing so, you will see where it is wanted and needed.”
Understand that while IT can assist in AI-enabled innovation, IT cannot demand it of the business, says Hu. It must be co-created. “We have to remember to encourage applied curiosity, and then we can figure out our next steps for execution.”
4. Integrate AI teams into the organization
“Don’t put an AI team in a small silo and tell them to transform the business by themselves,” says Peter Scott, AI consultant and founding director of Next Wave Institute. “That’s like running power to one only one room and telling them to electrify the enterprise. AI is leveraging the intersection of technology and cognition, and it impacts every part of your business where people are thinking.”
5. Personalize the benefits
To encourage user adoption of AI throughout an organization, IT leaders and managers need to demonstrate how the resulting changes will benefit employees. Present quality data that shows how business processes can be improved. “Presenting a successful use case with support from senior leadership and easily recognizable data can incentivize usage,” says Chris Fielding, CIO at Sungard Availability Services. “IT leaders and managers should clearly communicate to team members why the incorporation of AI is beneficial and the positive impact it will have on productivity and efficiency both day-to-day and in the long run.”
Staying people-focused will go a long way, says Silver of PROS. “Retention of employees who have the skills and experience working with AI systems can yield positive returns.”
6. Address job loss concerns
“One of the challenges in AI adoption is the fear that many functional leaders have about losing their jobs or becoming obsolete,” says Nancy A. Shenker, author of Embrace the Machine. “When it’s positioned primarily as a technology improvement or cost-saving advancement, line managers who don’t fully understand the power of AI and ML will start to freak out and get defensive about the human elements of their jobs.”
By emphasizing that AI allows teams to focus on the actions to take based on the insights generated by AI and ML solutions rather than spending time mining the data for patterns, it becomes clear that AI does not remove the need for human decision-making, but instead enables a more effective, efficient route to insightful outcomes, says Simion of Capgemini.
Is there a way we can take advantage of this coronavirus crisis for the sake of the gospel? I believe there is. Just as Jesus moved into the lives of those who were experiencing crises, we as a church can be his hands and feet during this time. Here are a few ways to get started with evangelism in crisis and maybe spark even better ideas. Be sure to share these ideas in the Facebook group.
Phone call guests from the past two years.
Divide those numbers up among deacons or small group leaders. If you need some tips about how to mobilize or get these leaders going, check out this post. As you call, let them know you care for them and are praying for them during this time. Find out if they have immediate needs and take the opportunity to share Jesus with them.
Encourage “House Church” invitations.
Let your church family know that now is a great time to have people to their house to livestream a message your church or partner church has put together.
Ask for prayer requests and needs (they don’t have to relate to the coronavirus).
Encourage church members to visit homes on their street or in their neighborhood asking for prayer requests or needs. Use this as an opportunity to invite church members to get into gospel conversations.
Offer online training on evangelism.
Challenge your church members to watch No Sweat Evangelism (www.nosweatevangelism.com) to learn how to share Jesus in their context.
Share your testimony!
Share your testimony on social media and how knowing Jesus helps you in difficult times like these. Offer to talk to anyone listening.
Be creative with moments to share the gospel.
Give out food to those in need, and place gospel tracts in food bags/boxes/backpacks. We have a list of community outreach ideas – let evangelism and missions work together!
Always offer the gospel presentation.
As you move your services to an online format: Remember that more lost people may view it, so be intentional about presenting a clear gospel presentation at the end and be clear on how someone can respond.
As you know, we can use any of these ideas at any time. Consider implementing them now, during the coronavirus crisis, and then think of ways they can be ongoing evangelism opportunities.
On a flight back from the Midwest, I listened while a Christian brother in the row directly behind me vigorously shared his faith with passengers on either side. I was glad for his effort (my wife and I were both praying for him), and he made some fine points. But some of his tactics were questionable. Here are some things I learned from that experience that might make your own efforts more effective.
These eight ideas remove obstacles that get in your way as an ambassador for Christ . They will make it easier for others to focus on your message without being distracted by your methods. The irony is that when our method is skillful, it fades into the background. But when our method is clumsy or offensive, then it becomes the focus instead of the truth we want to communicate.
1. Be ready.
The Christian brother behind me was clearly on the alert for chances to represent Christ. Seated between two other passengers, he had a captive audience on either side for almost four hours, and he was determined to make the most of the opportunity.
Though you do not need to squeeze each encounter dry (as he seemed to be doing), you should be willing at least to test the waters to see if there is any interest. Good ambassadors are vigilant, always watchful for what might turn out to be a divine appointment.
2. Keep it simple.
On the way to sharing about the cross, our Christian passenger ranged from young-earth creationism to Armageddon. That is a lot to have to chew on to get to Jesus. The basic gospel is challenging enough. Generally, you will have to deal with a few obstacles that come up. But if the listener is interested, why complicate things with controversial issues unrelated to salvation? Remember, you want to put a stone in his shoe, not a boulder. If other issues don’t come up, don’t bring them up.
3. Avoid religious language and spiritual pretense.
Our dear brother was obviously a Christian. His dialog was littered with spiritual lingo and religious posturing. Everything about his manner screamed “fundamentalist.” Even when this is genuine, it sounds weird to outsiders. Words and phrases like “saved,” “blessed,” “the Word of God,” “receive Christ,” or “believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord,” may have meaning to you, but they are tired religious clichés to everyone else.
Experiment with fresh, new ways to characterize the ancient message of truth. Consider using the word “trust” instead of “faith,” or “follower of Jesus” instead of “Christian.” I try to avoid quoting “the Bible.” Instead, I quote the words of “Jesus of Nazareth” (the Gospels), or of “those Jesus trained to take his message after him” (the rest of the New Testament).
Avoid spiritual schmaltz like the plague. Even though a person is attracted to Christ, he may still be reluctant to join an enterprise that makes him look odd. Don’t let your style get in the way of your message.
4. Focus on the truth of Christianity, not merely its personal benefits.
I appreciated our evangelist’s focus on truth rather than on experience. When one of his fellow passengers said he liked reincarnation, the Christian noted that “liking” reincarnation could not make it true. The facts matter. By focusing on the truth claims of Jesus instead of making a more subjective appeal, he gave his message a solid foundation.
5. Give reasons.
This brother understood that making assertions without giving evidence would be an empty effort. He was ready to give the support needed to show that his claims were not trivial. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and all the prophets did the same. Even in a postmodern age, people still care about reasons.
6. Stay calm.
Don’t get mad. Don’t show frustration. Don’t look annoyed. Keep your cool. Our friend stayed composed the entire time. The more collected he was, the more confident he appeared. The more confident he seemed, the more persuasive he sounded.
7. If they want to go, let them leave.
When you sense the one you are talking to is looking for an exit, back off a bit. Signs of waning interest — wandering eyes, a caged look, darting glances toward the doorway — are clues she’s probably not listening anymore. Don’t force the conversation. Instead, let the exchange end naturally. Remember, you don’t need to close the sale in every encounter. God is in charge. He will bring the next ambassador along to pick up where you left off. When the conversation becomes a monologue (yours), it’s time to let it go.
8. But don’t let them leave empty-handed. If possible, give the person a tangible way to follow up on what you challenged him to consider.
Our friend had an arsenal of tracts, booklets, and Christian paperbacks to leave behind to keep the thinking process going. You might offer your business card, a Christian Web site (e.g., www.str.org), or something to read. A copy of the Gospel of John is a good choice. It’s small, inexpensive, and focuses on Christ. Offer it as a gift, suggesting, “It might be best for me to let Jesus speak for himself.”
How to Use This Book
Tactics will give you a complete game plan for sharing your Christian faith, safely and effectively. You are God’s ambassador for Christ, and Tactics will make you more effective in that role. Read Tactics on your own or with your small group; you will grow in confidence, and you will learn how to show the world that Christianity is worth thinking about.
Don’t miss Greg Koukl’s new book The Story of Reality—How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between. It’s full of what Koukl calls “soft apologetics”—thoughtful reflections that are not argumentative, but instead are friendly appeals to common-sense notions we’re all aware of that point to the truthfulness of the Christian account of the world.
Rick Warren called The Story of Reality “The clearest explanation of the Christian worldview I’ve ever read, written in a style everyone can understand.” Check it out today.
About the Author
Gregory Koukl holds MA degrees in both apologetics and philosophy. He’s spoken on over 50 university campuses and hosted his own radio talk show for 18 years defending “Christianity Worth Thinking About.” Greg is founder and president of Stand to Reason and serves as adjunct professor of Christian apologetics at Biola University.