Methods of Evangelism
Part ONE - Evangelistic Method #1
The Romans Road is an intellectual evangelistic method of sharing the Gospel which uses a systematic approach in laying out the plan of salvation through Bible verses in the book of Romans. In this approach the verses are organized into a simple teaching which is easy to outline who is in need of salvation, why man needs salvation, how God provides that salvation, how man can respond to God’s provision of salvation, and finally what the result is of man’s response to God’s salvation (What is Roman's Road?). First the case is established that all people are unrighteous before God, all have sinned and are in need of salvation (Romans 3:10-12, 23). Then the penalty of our sin, which is our unrighteousness, is deserving of death (Romans 6:23). The hope that man has is that God has provided a solution in that Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin in His own death (Romans 5:8). If man will confess Jesus as Lord and believe He was raised from the dead then salvation will be provided and the debt of sin forgiven (Romans 10:9-10, 13). Upon this submission and the receiving of God’s forgiveness, a new relationship begins between God and man. In this relationship, man is re-born as a new creature before God, the sinful person who was, is no longer and the new person is considered righteous and a newly adopted child of God (Romans 5:1; 8:1, 38-39).
This method has advantages in that it uses a biblically based process and exposes the non-Christian to scripture. The message is focused around the understanding of scriptural reasoning rather than man’s logic. In this approach the non-Christian is confronted with an understanding of how God sees mankind and his situation of sin. The Romans Road can be a very effective method of reaching a person who recognizes the Bible as God’s word and is willing to trust its teaching.
The disadvantage to this method comes when the non-Christian is not willing to accept that the Bible is the word of God or claims that God does not exist. In this situation they are not open to the reasoning given in the Bible and may refute each claim with a simple “I do not believe in God” argument. This scenario can be handled by the Christian in either deciding to pray separately for the non-Christian that God would soften their heart and make them more open to His word or take a more apologetic approach in refuting the doubting claims. Both of these responses are honorable to God.
Part TWO – Evangelistic Method #2
Servant Evangelism is described by the motto “Small Things Done with Great Love Will Change the World” (About Servant Evangelism). The idea behind this relational evangelistic method is that Christians should reach people with love, compassion and service. In addition this should all be done with a kind heart, a generous attitude and an embracing smile. The mentality is that if service is done in the right motivation the results will effectively lead people to a better appreciation of Christianity and draw them closer to accepting Jesus. The Servant Evangelism method gathers a lot of its principle motivation from Matthew 25 where Jesus is telling his disciples that if they would feed the hungry, cloth and shelter the homeless, take care of the sick, and essentially service the needs of others, then they would be serving as if they were serving Jesus himself (31-46). Servant Evangelism is more about doing the message of the Gospel than speaking the message of the Gospel.
Servant Evangelism has many strong advantages in altering the perception a non-Christian may have of Christianity. As people are more willing to remember the negative rather than the positive, most non-Christians do not acknowledge the many hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, and service ministries that have been started throughout history by Christians. They tend to focus more on the selfishness and lack of compassion they see in people who wear the Christian title. While the negative perception of Christians is very well justified at many times, it is not accurate in blanketing all of Christianity with this stigma. Servant Evangelism can be very effective in countering this negativity by reminding Christians that they need to be more active in caring for people. There is an anonymous quote that states, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. This surmises adequately the idea behind Servant Evangelism, that if we can reach people as servants we can then soften their heart and bring them to accepting the Gospel.
The disadvantage to this method is that it risks reducing the Gospel to acts of kindness and not recognizing that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9, NKJV). In servicing people’s needs, there can be a tendency from those receiving to never respond to the Gospel. This is not to say that we should be serving only if people are willing to respond as we hope, but rather to balance the service with a realistic understanding that man is sinful and in need of a savior. The issue that can arise in Servant Evangelism is that once people reject the Gospel the evangelist may back away in hopes not to offend the non-Christian. This scenario can put the non-Christian in the position of labeling the Christian as a hypocrite and they are only serving in order to convert them. The Christian is then potentially faced with the decision to continue serving but without the conviction of the Gospel message. This is a dangerous approach and is not the same as the balance found in Jesus’ ministry.
Part THREE – Evangelistic Method #3
Evangelism Explosion is a highly organized training method designed to reach non-Christians with the Christian Gospel. The purpose of this is “training those won to the Lord to win, and then train, others” (What Is Evangelism Explosion?). Evangelism Explosion offers an on-the-job training approach to bring people face to face with non-Christians in sharing the Christian message. In this confrontational evangelistic method the non-Christian is presented with a series of questions that emphasize the key points of the Gospel and then they are challenged to respond. In training Christians to present the Gospel, Evangelism Explosion utilizes many framed questions such as “Do you know for sure that you are going to be with God in Heaven?” or “If God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into My Heaven?’ what would you say?” (Steps to Life). The goal is to bring people to a decision of whether or not they accept or reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The advantage to this approach can be two-fold. First, in that it challenges the Christian to speak to non-Christians and become active in evangelizing their community. This is a very positive aspect of Evangelism Explosion because it causes the Christian to have to understand and be able to communicate effectively the Gospel. The second advantage is that it confronts the non-Christian in the convicting judgment of the Gospel and refuses to allow them to ignore the message of God’s salvation. When faced with the methods of Evangelism Explosion, the non-Christian cannot dismiss Jesus as a moral teacher but must decide whether they accept him as their savior.
The disadvantage to the Evangelism Explosion method is also a two-fold issue. First, the training methods can become too artificial. The Christian memorizes questions, responses, and statements and begins to witness from a rehearsed script rather than engaging in interested dialogue with a person. This can result in the person feeling more like an experiment or a “notch in the belt” of the Christian and refuse the message, not out of rejection to the Gospel but rather in rejecting the Christian. The second disadvantage is that it can create false converts. When using this method as a high pressure sales routine, the non-believe may give in to tactics because they feel backed into a corner but not because they are convicted in their heart. While the motive of the Evangelism Explosion method is admirable, the process of simply going through a premeditated dialogue can leave much to be rightly criticized.
Part FOUR – Application of These Methods to Your Own Life
The approach of each mentioned method of evangelism has many advantages and disadvantages. In my own preference, the Romans Road method is the most balanced and effective approach. While I strongly see the need to additionally serve people as Christ displayed himself as a servant and also to get out there into the world confronting people to respond to the Gospel, I find the Romans Road to be the most grounded in the understanding of the salvation message. This method deals with the true depths of mankind’s depravity and reveals God as the loving creator who is longing to be united with us. My method in reaching people is more to deal with their reasoning and sense of logic by which God can be revealed. The Romans Road can help me achieve this result. The message of Romans can be traced to present the Gospel in a way that is rationally convicting but also promising of hope and redemption. This method relies heavily on scripture and brings the non-Christians first encounter with Jesus under the authority of scripture. Under this authority the non-believe becomes converted with an awareness of their reliance on God and their submission to His sovereign power. The resulting conversion is not from the non-Christian’s approval of God but from an understanding of their need to be approved by God.