Written by: Dr. Kim Riddlebarger
1. Be clear about what you believe and why you believe it. Know the Scriptures and know the confessions and catechisms. The more you know about your faith, the easier it is to talk with non-Christians.
2. The essence of evangelism is communicating the correct information about sin and grace, simply and clearly. Talk about the law and the gospel, not about infralapsarianism and divine simplicity. That comes later!
3. Avoid the use of Christian jargon. Speak about real sin, real guilt, real shed blood!
4. Use tact and be charitable! Don’t talk about reprobation with someone who has just lost an unbelieving family member. Be kind and courteous! Many non-Christians act and speak out of ignorance, not malice.
5. Be sensitive to someone’s past—if they’ve had a bad experience in church, struggle with a particular sin etc., be understanding and compassionate! Non-Christians hate self-righteousness, and they have a right to do so. Do not soft-peddle the law and the guilt of sin, but make sure they understand that you are a justified sinner, not a self-righteous “know it all,” who is here to correct them!
6. Stick with the subject—don’t get side-tracked. When the conversation wanders, pull it back to center stage—the law and the gospel.
7. Evangelism is not about winning an argument, but leading people to Christ. Discussions may get heated and intense at times—that’s okay. But the purpose of evangelism is not to show why you are right and they are wrong. It is to communicate the truth of the gospel. The message is to be the offence. Not you!
8. When people are apathetic about sin—use the law. When people have doubts or are skeptical—use basic apologetic arguments. When people express guilt for sin—present the gospel.
9. Evangelism is about leading non-Christians to Christ. Convincing evangelicals that Reformed theology is true, falls under the heading of polemics. Don’t confuse the two.
10. Stick with what all Christians hold in common wherever possible. Leave the internecine fighting among Christians aside when talking to non-Christians. A non-Christian will not care much about why the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper is in error, or why Baptists are wrong about infant baptism. That will come during catechesis.
11. Wherever possible, speak about Christianity as factually true— “Jesus did this,” “Jesus said this,” “people heard and saw him,” etc. Keep away from the subjective line of approach— “it works for me.”
12. Pray for wisdom.
13. Trust in the power of God the Holy Spirit working through the word! Cite texts directly from the Scriptures with attribution. Jesus says, Paul says….Not, “I think,” or “it seems to me.”
14. Don’t rush things. Just because someone is not ready to trust in Christ after one encounter does not mean that effective evangelism has not taken place. Pre-evangelism is equally vital. You may plant, but someone else may have to water.
15. Treat people as objects of concern, not notches in your belt. Establish relationships and friendships whenever possible.
16. Don’t forget that a prophet is without honor in his own home. The chances of you leading your own unbelieving family members [or someone close to you] to Christ are remote. Pray for someone else to come and evangelize your family!
17. Don’t force things. If people balk, ridicule and otherwise are not interested, back off. Find another time and place. If after repeated attempts to communicate the gospel, and someone still shows an unwillingness to hear what you have to say, “shake the dust off your feet and move on to a new town!”
18. Be willing to get people the resources they need: be willing to provide them with a Bible, the right book to read, and certainly an invitation to attend your church or Bible study, etc.
19. Pray for opportunities to evangelize. Pray for your church—that God would bless the preaching of his word, that he would bring non-Christians into our midst, and that he would bless the church with growth.
20. You don’t have to become a practical Arminian to be a faithful evangelist! A Reformed approach to evangelism simply means telling people the truth in love.