The Process of Evangelism
We all know God is the One with the power to save (John 6:44), but He calls us to be fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). We have the amazing privilege of going to work with Dad, but if we aren’t careful, we can get lost in the “paralysis of analysis”– What do I talk to my friend about this time? What tool do I share? Do I just have fun this time? Am I ready to give them the bad news of the Gospel yet? And so on.
These questions, although helpful for discernment, can talk us out of sharing the life-changing Gospel. When you get down to it, effective evangelism really isn’t that difficult. I want to show you what basic evangelism can look like so you won’t be bogged down with the details.
Let’s begin with a visual. In the timeline below, you will notice moving someone from a non-Christian to a New Christian has several stages: starting a relationship, building trust, engaging in spiritual conversations, coming together for Bible Study, following up to answer questions, and making the decision to follow Christ.
The timeline appears to be formulaic, but to be honest, it’s not always this simple or clean cut. In some situations, these steps can take months. Other times, you can move from beginning to end in a matter of 10 minutes. However you slice it, these aspects are typically, though not always, involved in the process of someone becoming a Christian.
Let’s delve into each of these stages individually and what your role is in bringing someone to Christ. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive To Do list for evangelism.
Having a sincere relationship with someone seems obvious, but is too often forgotten. You have to get to know the person! If you want to share with a person, rather than a project, you need to start by building a relationship.
- Attend campus events or throw your own events. Meet people and build friendships that can lead to Gospel conversations.
- Eat on campus with students as often as possible. Have people over to eat, take them out to eat, do anything with food.
- Find recreational activities on campus. Get a gym membership at the school rather than off campus. Go workout, play basketball, anything in the fitness center! Play on an intramural team. Play video games with students. Just have fun together!
Trust develops throughout the relationship. It stands to reason, if our students don’t see us as trustworthy, why should they believe what we say? Each student builds trust at different rates, but all of them need to trust you!
- Be honest, open and transparent with your life. Students usually will match your level of vulnerability. If you aren’t open, they won’t be either.
- Do the right thing, no matter what. In a world lacking character, we have an opportunity to shine in the eyes of students when we simply do what we said we were going to. You can sneak into the cafeteria or fitness center or get away with something on campus, but that doesn’t mean you should. Cutting corners and shirking the rules will kill your credibility. Have integrity.
For students to become Christians, we must share the Gospel, the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). We cannot wait on them to ask. We initiate the conversation and share the Good News with them!
As I mentioned before, these steps in the process can all happen at different points and in different ways. For example, every year on Move In Day, I start several relationships with students, build their trust, and share the Gospel within 5 minutes. Other students I meet on the same day take several weeks to build trust, and its a couple of months before I can confidently share the Gospel with them. Every relationship is different.
- Just share the life changing Gospel. Use the Bridge Diagram, The 4 Spiritual Laws, anything! Just sow the Gospel!
After having a few spiritual conversations with someone, invite them to meet with a group to talk through the Gospel. If other people are close to the same stage, they can discover Christ together.
- Start an Evangelistic Bible Study (EBS). Begin a Bible study focused on those who know nothing or little about Christ. For more guidance, check out How to Plan and Lead an EBS (Need link).
After an Evangelistic Bible Study, follow up is the best opportunity for answering questions and strengthening the relationship.
- Ask the student what they thought about the content. Hearing their thoughts first helps you can find out where they are. Allowing them to speak first also builds the relationship.
- Expose the student to the Body of Christ. Getting them around other believers will give them a better picture of what it looks like to be a Christian. Other believers can also share the Gospel with them in ways that may connect more with them.
- Be a faithful friend in the student’s life. You’ve shared the Gospel and got them to a Bible Study, but your job isn’t done. Commit to this person for the long haul. Be the one who initiates to hanging out, continue sharing the Gospel, and just be friends.
Point of Decision
A point of decision is the moment a student makes a decision to follow Christ. Steve Shadrach calls this the “Golden Question.” Take time with the student and ask the most loving question you will ever ask, “Would you like to surrender your life to Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” This seems nerve-wracking, so before you begin, here’s your To Do list:
- Pray they will decide to follow Christ. Unless God moves in a person’s heart, our efforts are futile (Psalm 127:1-2). Beg God to save them! Intercede for them and ask that God would give them a new heart (Eze. 36:26)! More than anything I’ve mentioned, pray!
- Ask God to give you courage. Don’t let your fear control you. And don’t let your momentary comfort become more important than their eternity. Be bold and courageous!
So now that we have gone through each of the stages, let’s look at your To Do list:
Start a Relationship
- Attend campus events or throw your own events.
- Eat on campus with students.
- Participate in campus activities.
- Be honest, open and transparent.
- Do the right thing, no matter what.
Engage in spiritual conversations
- Share the life changing Gospel.
Come together for Bible Study
- Have an Evangelistic Bible Study (EBS).
- Ask the student their thoughts about the Bible study.
- Expose the student to the Body of Christ.
- Be a faithful friend.
Making the decision to follow Christ.
- Pray they decide to follow Christ.
- Ask God to give you courage.
When you break it down to the essentials, evangelism isn’t nearly as overwhelming. You can use this list to initiate relationships with those who don’t know Christ, as well as better understand current relationships. If you are aware of where the person is in their path toward Christ, you can be certain to do your part.
Don’t let this be another article you read and set aside. And don’t just use this as information for your next training or talk. Go out and live it! Go watch Jesus change people’s lives!