Our theme for the last few weeks has been going on Mission. The goal of this series is to help people develop a missional mindset as a core part of their personal calling (Jn.17:18 & Mt.28:18-20). We should all be equipped to share our faith with confidence (Rom.1:16 & 1 Pet.3:15-16) and encourage a regular investment of time in meaningful conversation with people who do not yet know Jesus (Lk.15:1-2 & Col.4:5-6).
In the book ‘How to Become a Contagious Christian’, Bill Hybels outlines six evangelistic styles where sharing our faith is particularly expressed through our personality, a couple of comments before we look at the styles would be,
- No particular style is right or wrong, each can be effective
- You might operate in more than one of these styles depending on different seasons of your life
- More important than a particular style is that we all have an open heart to be used by God to share our faith.
1. Confrontational Style
Peter is a great example of this particular witnessing technique and he demonstrated it best in his sermon at Pentecost delivered to both the Jewish religious leaders and to Jews visiting Jerusalem from all over the world (Acts 2), Peter boldly preaches the good news to this large crowd and three thousand people responded.
2. Intellectual Style
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul used this technique very effectively. Do you remember when he was in Athens? Acts 17 tells us that Paul reasoned with the Jews and God-fearing Greeks there, explaining and proving Christ's resurrection (Acts 17:3). He also conversed with the intelligentsia and debated with the philosophers of this city. In his famous sermon on Mars Hill, he ingeniously used the Athenians’ altar to an unknown god as an introduction to his presentation of the one, true God.
3. Testimonial Style
Someone once said ‘a person with an argument is no match for a person with an experience; this is true when thinking about the power of a personal story.
In John 9:1-7 we read the story of the man born blind who was healed by Jesus. You may remember that the religious leaders were very upset that our Lord had done this on the Sabbath. In their investigation of Jesus' crime these religious hard heads finally cornered the healed blind man and asked him what he thought of his Healer. His answer was pure and simple, one thing I know. I was blind and now I see. When this simple testimony to the power of Jesus led to more questions he said, nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. The man who received his sight was convinced Jesus was God’s Son.
Note that the testimonial style neither confronts nor intellectualizes. It simply tells the story of what Jesus has done in a person's life. The basic message is: Jesus changed my life...He can change yours too.
4. Interpersonal Style
When Matthew became a Christ follower (Matthew 9:9-12) he invited all of his friends to a dinner party strategically designed to get his unsaved tax collector friends to rub shoulders with Jesus and the disciples. There are many people, like Matthew, who are just gifted at building relationships with people in this way. His party with a purpose is the philosophy behind events like socials at life group, 4WD events, and sporting teams and so on.
5. Invitational Style
When Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and she realized that Jesus was the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah she excitedly left her water pots at the well and ran into the city begging people to come and hear Jesus for themselves. They did and John's gospel tells us that many of the Samaritans believed and became Jesus' followers. Well, this Samaritan woman was an invitational evangelist. She knew she wasn't prepared to articulate the message in a powerful way so she invited her friends and acquaintances to come and hear someone who could explain it more effectively.
Some Christians condemn themselves because they're not confrontational or intellectual. The Invitational style can be effective for people to come and hear what God can do in their lives if they will let Him. Many people who come to faith in Christ do so because someone invited them to a Bible study, Church meeting or a Billy Graham crusade or something like it, where they could hear the Gospel proclaimed.
6. Servant Style
We see this style practised by many Christians throughout the world, one of the most well-known ‘servant evangelists’ would be Mother Theresa. We see an example of this in Acts 9:36 through the life of Dorcas ‘who was always doing good and helping the poor’. Still today, many of the largest hospitals, charities and compassion ministries where established and run by Christians, still today the love of God is expressed through Christians responding to the needs of those around us.
Take some time to discuss the different styles mentioned.
What style of evangelism did you respond to when you became a Christian?
What particular style do you think fits you best?
Explain how you have effectively shared more than one style of evangelism.
What are some practical steps you can take to develop a style?
Some additional scriptures to reflect upon are John 10:7-18, 2 Cor 5:20, 1 Cor 9:19-23, Acts 8:26-39.
Take some time to pray for friends to respond to Jesus.