Personal evangelism refers to the practice of individual Christians actively sharing the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ with others on a personal and direct basis. In some countries it is illegal to “proselytize” or what Bible-believing Christians would call witnessing or sharing the Gospel with others. In our country, there are those who are pressing to limit Christians from speaking the truth about things such as abortion and gender issues. They declare those who hold to a Christian world view as “people of hate” from whom society needs to be protected.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation says:
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution begins with what are known as the religion clauses: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”
The phrases establishment of religion and free exercise of religion mean different things. Most British colonies in America before 1776 had “established churches,” churches that received direct financial support from taxpayer money. Several states in the early American republic also had established churches. The establishment clause protects against the federal government’s funding or sponsoring particular religious views.
The free exercise clause serves another purpose: It prevents the government from interfering with people’s religious beliefs and forms of worship.
So, from the outset, we acknowledge a fundamental Constitutional right to share the Gospel with others.
Christians have a higher authority – The Word of God – from which we receive our instruction about personal evangelism. Consider these biblical passages that provide a basis for personal evangelism in Christianity:
– The Great Commission – Jesus directly commands his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). This encourages all followers of Jesus to share the gospel.
– The Great Commandment – Loving God and loving one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39) motivates personal evangelism as an expression of love for both God and others.
– The Parable of the Lost Sheep – Jesus shares this story of a shepherd who left his 99 sheep to find one lost sheep, emphasizing God’s heart for the lost (Luke 15:3-7).
– The Apostles as Examples – The early evangelistic efforts of apostles like Paul and Peter are recounted in the book of Acts. Their bold witness is seen as a model.
– Paul’s Passion – Verses like 2 Corinthians 5:20 and Romans 1:16-17 record Paul’s passion and eagerness to share the gospel message with all he encountered.
– Every Believer’s Responsibility – Passages like 1 Peter 3:15 and Ephesians 6:19-20 emphasize personal evangelism as the responsibility of every Christian, not just church leaders.
– Warning of Judgment – Scripture warns that all people face eternal judgment, emphasizing the need to tell them of salvation in Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
– Power of the Gospel – Verses like Romans 1:16 affirm that the gospel itself has inherent power as God’s instrument of salvation when shared.
So, we see the Bible provides the commission, the commands, instruction and examples for personal evangelism as something every Christian should be engaged in out of love and spiritual burden for those who are lost.
Now consider the culture in which we live. What do you and I need to consider as we act out of love and a burden for those who are lost? Here are some key aspects about personal evangelism in our modern culture.
– The ultimate goal is to lead others to become believers and followers of Jesus Christ so that they will do the same. Evangelism is seen as a mandate for all Christians.
– It’s done through one-on-one encounters and conversations, rather than just public preaching or mass media approaches. The focus is on personal relationships. Methods can include sharing one’s own personal testimony of faith, explaining the message of salvation, inviting people to church or Bible study.
– Tracts, scriptures, and other tools may be used to aid in explaining the gospel. Technology and social media can also facilitate personal evangelism today. However, nothing will replace the “personal touch” of personal evangelism. Relational rapport, listening, asking questions, and appealing to the heart motivations may precede overt sharing of the gospel message.
– Compassion is a core motive. Personal evangelism stems from a sense of Christian duty, love for others, and a desire to see people saved from eternal separation from God. Genuine Christ-followers are encouraged to be ready to share their faith wherever they are – their workplace, neighborhood, family, friends, everyday interactions.
– Personal evangelism sometimes takes great courage and spiritual commitment in the face of possible rejection or opposition. Christians aim to evangelize with gentleness and respect. The key goal of personal evangelism is being faithful and available to extend the gospel through personal connections, empowered by prayer and the Holy Spirit and the Gospel itself.
Telling others about Jesus and what He has done for you and me is a privilege and an act of love for God and others. Personal evangelism is still “a thing.” In spite of culture, government, popularity, or pushback, we must continue to tell others about Jesus.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.