Evangelism 101 What Not To Do

Evangelism 101: What Not To Do (WNTD)

Have you ever had one of those conversations about God with your friends, coworkers, family, etc… where they either zone out or you feel like the conversation just isn’t going anywhere

Never right?


Write This One Down: What Not To Do

Okay, all jokes aside, as Christians our ability to share God with others is second in importance only to our personal relationship with God himself

Yes, it is more important than being popular, wearing cool clothes or even being able to sing our favorite songs on Sundays without sounding awful

Sometimes, talking about our relationship with God can seem tough but after spending a lot of time speaking to people in professional, personal, and spiritual situations, I have learned that it isn’t what we say, but how we say it that determines whether we successfully express ourselves or not

This means, when we say or do certain things in a conversation that turn people off, even if what we are saying is totally amazing and might make other Christians bounce up and down with joy, we have lost a battle in the war to bring someone new into the kingdom

What am I talking about?

Here are some examples of “What Not To Do”:

  • Build a conversation around “Christianese”
    • As Christians we hear words like “grace, salvation, the blood of Jesus, etc…” and often repeat these things without considering what they might mean to someone else, but remember that these statements usually sound like code words to someone who is “outside the club”, and will often be misunderstood
    • “Come drink of the blood the lamb, and you will be saved!”    “Wow, sounds awesome! Where do I sign up!?”
  • Speaking as if our thoughts are the only ones that matter in the conversation
    • Most people will not listen if they feel their opinions are not considered, and it can come across as not having an open mind
    • Also, if we cannot personalize our invitation for someone, it can feel less sincere
  • Talk about God using too much scripture
    • For most people, this can often be confusing as Christians usually have a good understanding of the Bible and what the context is for a lot of verses, but most non-Christians don’t
  • Speak about our relationship with God without being bold enough to openly discuss things we have overcome
    • Sharing our personal stories will often set the tone for others to feel comfortable sharing about themselves
  • Make a point of not making people feel judged because of their lives
    • Most people do not come to God because they were beaten over the head with a Bible and told they were going to hell because their life is bad
  • Get frustrated and upset because someone doesn’t accept what we are saying
    • Nobody likes a spaz, this goes without saying!

Our Lives Should Be Holy, Living Testimonies

The things we do in our every day lives should be shining testimonies to the power of God’s work in our lives

This means we aren’t Sunday Christians who fake the funk the other six days of the week, but live in a way that is pleasing to God at all times

Nobody likes a hypocrite, and this is the single biggest thing that turns people away from Christianity–insincere Christians who claim to know God, but deny him in their lives through sin

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven

I mean honestly, who would want to join up with a group of insincere people who do not live what they preach?

There are enough insincere “religious” people in the world, shouldn’t we be better than everyone if we have found “the way”?

I usually jump right on the topic of hypocrites early when talking with people about God, and openly say that I feel most Christians do not walk the way they should and usually take God for granted

It is too easy to dismiss Christianity because of the individuals in it, so I focus on the fact that God doesn’t make himself look bad, Christians do!

Ephesians 5:17-19
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit

Try Not Act Like A Sweaty-Handed Doofus

Okay, sometimes you will just be a sweaty-handed doofus (I get nervous all the time!), but nobody likes it when someone nervously tries to sell them something, it is just creepy right?

“Like, why can’t this person just have a conversation rather than act weird?”

Being able to communicate in a calm, confident way is very important, so we should focus on our sense of enthusiasm and excitement that we are sharing the gift of life with others rather than on how nervous we are because we are afraid of the conversation not going well or because we are scared of saying something wrong

The reality is, it takes practice to be sensitive to God’s guidance and also to be sensitive to the people we are talking with

Knowing what to say in the heat of a moment is not something people just know how to do automatically, and it is important to be careful as one misstep could mean the end of the conversation

Trust me, even the best preachers and evangelists strikeout on converting people when “cold calling”, more so than they have success, that is just the way it is, but the seeds that are planted, or watered, can sometimes take root and flourish days, weeks, months or years later!

1 Corinthians 3:8
The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor

The key is, trust God for understanding in how to speak to others, and learn as much scripture as you possibly can so that you can answer others with godly wisdom and complete confidence

But, always remember that you should speak to others about God in a way that is respectful, gentle, and, above all, guided by holy wisdom

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings

1 Peter 3:13-16
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander

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  • I totally agree, what I really liked is when you wrote about not talking Christianese to non believers. I recently had to tell one of the authors on my blog to address this in him writing an article targeted to non-Christians. He used words like “blood” and “sacrifice” which is no bueno. That’s a good point Nathan 🙂

    • Hi Peter,

      Christianese is probably the worst way to turn people off, but when taken out of context the statements are actually pretty funny!

      Well, funny if they didn’t turn people away from salvation

      • I’m suuuch a theology nerd. Like… I clean with Driscoll sermons playing in the laptop, and have two Oswald Chambers sermons/books going now… So, sometimes (like, last tuesday) when i get those “elevator evangelizing” moments, I shoot myself in the foot..b/c I’ll slip something in like “His Highest” or “Saviour”b/c for me it’s easy to describe God w/ various names to glorify and explain him in context. When I’m with christians, this is comprehendable…when I’m w/ “non christians” this is… awkward.
        My friend, a christian, once pointed out to me that I quote scripture in normal conversation…and i should stop b/c i work in ministry and it’s not helpful to the unsaved.  She called in “biblnglish” (like spanglish. bible.+english.)

  • Yeah, I’ve found that Biblese is pretty common where I’m from (South Carolina), to the extent that even in a ‘secular’ conversation it’s pretty safe to throw it in. But if I were in, say, New England? Definitely a different dialect.

    You might also suggest a study of apologetics for folks who plan to evangelize. As the quoted scripture says, you have to have an answer ready at all times. Plus, I’ve found it to be a great way to deepen my own faith–if an uncomfortable one. Having to logically and rationally defend the faith is awkward to those who’d like to do it unquestioningly, but a faith that can’t survive a little doubt is merely certitude masquerading as piety.

    • Hi Bennett,

      I grew up in a Christian home, but we did not use a lot of Biblese as our discussions with friends, family, etc… were almost always about our relationships with God

      When I think about this a little further, it reminds me that my mom (the only parent I grew up around) was really all about knowing when to switch between talking with scripture and knowing when to use anecdotal commentary to create a common point of understanding in a conversation, I probably learned a lot there, not to mention that was Jesus’ style as well!

      Apologetics are great, but sometimes I find the topics kind of arid, and usually I can rip the responses apart myself without much trouble–do you know of any Christian apologists on the level of Christopher Hitchens, he is a tough standard to compare by, but is generally regarded as the most “intelligent” atheist out there

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