March 1, 2006

Thoughts on Evangelism

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:38 pm by tobytaff

I was thinking about evangelism last night while driving around delivering pizzas.  Specifically I was thinking about the American (perhaps Western Standard) methods of evangelism.  If I have this right, there are two basic forms. The first is the shotgun method.  The evangelizer goes around “spreading” the gospel to everyone he approaches.  This is the form of short term missions, youth evangelism nights, and things of that nature. A typical encounter would be something like this:

Christian, A walks up to Stranger, B. …

A says to B, “Have you been saved?”

B replies, “What?”

A hearing the answer as no shares the gospel according to whatever tract is available  A then asks, “would you like to receive Jesus today?”

B replies, “What?” or “Yes” or “No!”

If yes, A says, “Pray this prayer with me.” . . .Prays. . .  “Now you know Jesus and will go to heaven.  Bye.” and runs off to speak with C.  If A is particularly savvy, A also mentions finding a church.

If no, A either tries to convince B (see method 2) or says, “Bye!” and runs off.

If the answer is either yes or no, B will likely never see A again, and if the answer is what, God help B because here comes a second round of “gospel shot”.

The second type of evangelism is the type where A tries to convince B that the Christian life is wonderful and the afterlife divine.  I won’t go into a full blown scenario, but the gist is about how wonderful heaven will be, alusions to the streets of Gold, Mansions, and opulence in general (a real draw for us american types), and of course the appeal to Pascal’s wager … What if you’re wrong….

Both of these evangelistic forms bother me.  It may be that I’ve used both in the past and feel guilty about it, or it could be that they’re bad on their face, or it could be both.  All things considered, it doesn’t matter they both have bad results.  With the shot gun approach you have confused non-believers or un-discipled believers, and occasionally a piece hits the mark.  With option 2 people buy fire insurance or the afterlife upgrade and miss the fact that it is really about God not man.

So I have some new thoughts on evangelism that I will share later, right now I need to do yard work.  Just suffice it to say that my next post on the subject will be a narrative that changes the focus some.



  1. Lex said,

    I’m with you, Toby. Neither is satisfactory, but both are pretty well pushed by most evangelistic churches. I’m looking forward to the next part of this.

  2. Shawn said,

    Have you seen the tracts that look like an American Idol flyer or like a $20 bill?

    I honestly wonder how much time is wasted with these methods of evangelism. Not to say that they aren’t sometimes necessary, but it’s a shame when we reduce proclaiming the good news to “ploys, programs, pressure, presentations, and premanufactured responses” (taken from Kyle Lake’s sermon, re:vangelism).

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