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Evangelism:
The Time Is Now!

Section 5, Chapter 8

Witnessing Ethics In Evangelism

Community Religious Survey
(PDF File for Printing)

Chapter 7

THE FIRST TWENTY SECONDS

How the Layman Evangelist approaches the perfect stranger will determine whether he has an open door or not. The battle for the soul starts in the mind of man. What the Christian witness says and how he says it in the first few seconds of conversation opens the door to an opportunity to share the Gospel or closes it.

As soon as the person begins to approach the individual, Satan is already planting suggestions into the personís mind. The wording is very important. When I approach a stranger to share the Gospel with him I say instantly and without hesitation:

Hi! My name is Dale. I am out today taking a survey on this book titled What Is Eternal Life? (While holding the booklet out facing them). I wondered if I could take a few minutes of your time and get your honest reaction to it?

You should memorize this introduction word for word and practice it in front of the mirror until you have it down straight.

You would not want to say,

Hi! My name is Dale. I am out today taking a survey on What Is Eternal Life?. . .

This sentence has left out the phrase this book titled. Stated this way it assumes that the person knows what the book is all about. When you approach the person this way, you imply to the person that he should already know what eternal life is. If he supposedly already knows what eternal life is, and he wants you to think that, then his answer will be "No thanks!" Stating this book rather than offending the personís ego creates curiosity about what the book says about eternal life. Before he realizes what he has gotten himself into, out of curiosity he responds, "Yes!"

In the second sentence, you would not want to say

I wondered if I could take a few minutes of your time and share "What Is Eternal Life?" with you?

This puts the person below you. You are teaching him. Most peopleís ego will not respond positively to this. They are thinking, "What makes him think I have a need for him to share what Eternal Life is with me? I am a religious person!" Saying "I wondered if I could take ten minutes of your time and get your reaction to it?" again appeals to the personís ego. You are not just asking his or her permission to share the booklet with them, but also the personís intelligent critical reaction positive or negative to the message of the book. This puts the person above you, not below you. They will be more than happy to give you their reaction to your presentation.

If the person says yes, it is he who has given you permission to take a few minutes of their time. His conscience will not let him back out of it no matter how much he may dislike it because it was his decision, not yours. Seldom ever has anyone stopped me once they have committed themselves to hear the presentation.

This approach is important for several different reasons: Jesus respects manís free will. This type of approach is taking into consideration the free will of man. Therefore if the person says yes, even though he may not like what he has gotten himself into, he knows in his heart it was not forced upon him, that he made a free will decision to give you a few minutes of his time, so he will suffer through it. Even if the person gives a negative response in the end, you will leave him with a good witness because you considered his person and he knows it. This approach will not leave a bad taste in the personís mouth.

The next thing that is important in your initially approaching a total stranger is how you deliver your opening statement. While teaching Evangelism in Bible College, I had a student who had gone through my Basic Program of Evangelism and was half way through my Advanced Program of Evangelism, but who had not yet even gotten a person to let him give the presentation let alone see a person receive Jesus. Because he was with me much of the time on the field, I knew what his problem was. His problem was his attitude. When he would approach someone about the Gospel, his conversation would go something like this:

Student: A, Hi! A, a. I am taking a survey, a, on a this booklet, a, What Is Eternal Life? You do want to hear what it is about donít you?

Stranger: No thank You?

What is wrong with this approach? The person is sitting there thinking to himself,

Oh brother! Someone out preaching religion out of a guilt complex. He is obviously doing this out of religious duty because he is being pushed into it, not out of inner conviction or belief, otherwise he would not be so timid. "Forget it Jack. Go away!"

The Bible states in Ecclesiastes 10:4,

"If the rulerís temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses."

You see the problem with the above approach is that first, it leaves too much time for the person to think about what to say and for Satan to add his own negative encouragement through thought suggestion. Second, the person does not sound like he really knows what he is talking about or believes in what he is talking about. A bold positive straight forward approach does. If you say it clearly, straight forward, not too fast, but all at once, before the person has a chance to think, out of courtesy he says, "Sure! Go for it." Jesus said in Matthew 10:16,

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves."

Our struggle is not just against the person we are sharing with, but against the Devil himself. It is the devil we are trying to out wit, not the poor unsuspecting mind of the person we are sharing with. Therefore we have to be bold and straight forward and get that commitment of yes before the person has time to think and before Satan has time to throw in his negative thoughts into the personís mind and the person comes to realize what he is getting himself into and says, "No!"

After coaching this Student, the next time we went out on the field, he approached the person as stated above. The end result was not only did the person listen to his presentation of the Gospel, but he ended up praying with the person to receive Jesus into his heart and this Student got to see a person come to know Jesus personally for the first time through his influence. This Student learned that how he approaches people initially is just as important as the message he has to share.

DOOR TO DOOR EVANGELISM

If you are doing door to door Evangelism in the homes of people you have made previous appointments with, after entering the home visit with them for a few minutes and then ask them if they will allow you to take them through the Community Religious Survey (< pdf file for printing). The Survey is designed to give you information about the person you will be sharing the Gospel with to do the following:

  1. First, to give you clear information about what the personís spiritual hang-ups are to Jesus and the Gospel and the Church.

  2. Second, what is hindering them from releasing their faith in the Gospel.

  3. Third, what they believe Salvation is centered in so you can know how to personalize your presentation of the Gospel to them in a way that will show them first, what is wrong with their position and why Jesus and Jesus only is the answer to their Salvation and needs.

When you have completed going through the first 9 questions of the survey, if they have given a response of yes to question 9, say and do the following:

This completes the survey. Thank You very much for your honest reaction to the questions. The purpose of the Survey is to help us better understand the spiritual needs of our community so that we can know how to better serve and meet the spiritual needs of our community. For this reason we highly value the answers you have given to us in the Survey.

This is not part of the Survey, but in response to your answer of "Yes!" to question 9, we do have a ten minute presentation which explains how to know for certain that you will go to heaven and have eternal life. May we take a few more minutes of your time and share it with you?

If they say yes, then take them through the tract What Is Eternal Life?

If, however, they say no to question 9, say the first paragraph above to them and attempt to give them some literature on salvation like my pamphlet, Understanding Your Salvation In Jesus or What the Bible Teaches About God, Man & the Universe or Heaven & Hell An Absolute Reality or The Bible Godís Word Absolutely by saying the following:

Again, thank you for your time. May we give you one of our books free for your time?

If they say yes, then give them one or more of these books. If they say no thank you, then say in response:

Thank you again for your time and response. Have a good day.

Never try to force the Gospel or books on them. Your respecting their wishes will do more to bring them to Christ than any attempt to force the Gospel on them against their will.

If you are going through a neighborhood with no previous planned appointment over the phone, when they answer their door say the following:

Hi! My name is __________. We are in the Neighborhood taking a Community Religious Survey (< pdf file for printing) and we wondered if we could take a few minutes of your time to get your honest reaction to some questions?

If they say "Yes!" take them through the survey. When you complete question 9, follow the same procedures as outlined above.

If they saw "No!" to the survey altogether, thank them anyway and go on.

WHO AND WHO NOT TO APPROACH
OUT ON THE STREETS

A while ago I was with a co-worker on the field. Normally, if a co-worker begins to do something which is not Biblically ethical, I will politely interject to save the situation, but in this particular situation, I was sharing a Salvation Tract myself with someone else while he was sharing with this man. I was able to over hear the conversation that went on and so I would like to share it with you to show you what is wrong with it and to share with you how he could have more properly handled it.

My co-worker was about a fourth of the way through the Salvation Tract he was using when the teenagerís mother walked up and said they needed to go. The co-worker, we will call Philip, said to the lady, "I just need three more minutes and I will be done!" The mother impatiently walked off. A few minutes later the mother walked up a second time and said to her son, "We need to go now!" Philip responded a second time, "I just need one more minute." The mother begrudgingly, not wanting to be rude, stepped back and gave Philip the minute. Philip rushed through the prayer, gave the Salvation Tract to the teenager and they left.

How should Philip have handled this situation? Normally speaking I discourage talking to children because if there are children, then there are parents near by and parents are rightly responsible and protective of any strangers talking to their children. The parent does not know what your intentions are. Our goal is to share the love of Jesus Christ without bringing a reproach against the Gospel. Nothing positive can come out of this kind of situation because of the parents control over the child. Whatever positive intention you might try to have would be destroyed by the parents attitude and authority over the child. So it is best not to try and talk with children. What you should do instead is attempt to share the Gospel with the parents. If they give their permission, while sharing the Gospel with them, the children will hear the Gospel also. Because the parent said yes, the child will believe hearing this message is right. The end result will be that the child hears the Gospel in a positive atmosphere which will in turn encourage the child to also make this decision for Jesus. By winning the parent to Jesus, you indirectly also win the child for Jesus.

In the case of this situation with Philip, the person was a teenager sitting by himself with no evidence of parents being anywhere around. In this case, if the person is a teenager, I see no problem in approaching them to share the Gospel with them, so Philip wasnít doing anything wrong initially. Even if the parent walked up and showed no annoyance, I would go ahead and finish the presentation because the parent would benefit as well.

If, however, the parent walks up, like in this situation, and shows annoyance and tells the child they need to go, the best thing to do is to let the child go. Hand them the book, thank them for their time and let them go. In doing this, even though you may not have finished explaining what it means to be a Christian and how to become one (the goal of evangelism), you have left a good witness and taste in their mouths by showing politeness and respect for the parentís authority and wishes over the child. To resist the parentís authority and wishes over their child would show that you have no respect for the parentís authority over their child. The end result would be that the parent would scold the child. This could result in the child rejecting what you had to share all together.

Secondly, if the parent is also not a Christian, you have left a bad witness to the parent. By resisting the parent you are telling the parent that to be a Christian or for her child to get involved in Christianity would mean that, that child would be influenced to disregard the parents wishes and authority over the child. The end result would be that you would not only lose your possible influence over the child, but the parent would be all the more closed to considering the Gospel themselves. If, however, you show regard for the parentís authority over their child, this will leave a good taste in their mouths that they will not forget. They will probably also read the Gospel tract you left with them out of curiosity because of the respect you showed for them as a parent.

As Christians we must remember that we cannot save anyone. Only Jesus through the Holy Spirit can bring a person to Himself. We are simply the messengers of the truth of the Gospel to others. The Holy Spirit does not work in a vacuum. He works in the hearts of men according to what they know. This is why we as Christians need to go out and sow the seed of the Word of God in menís hearts so the Holy Spirit has something to work with. At the same time, we should never be frustrated if in presenting the Gospel we are suddenly cut off. It is not our problem. God is faithful and will reach that person again at another opportune time. When we respond politely to a person saying no to our sharing with them or in respecting the wishes of a parent, this is also something that the Holy Spirit can use in influencing the child as well as the parent in bringing them to Christ. It will keep them open to hear the Gospel at another more opportune time because of the influence of your kindness, love and respect toward the person or parentís wishes.

How we respond to the personís free will prerogative is as much a witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as successfully giving the full presentation. You have left a good taste in their mouths that will influence how positively they respond to someone elseís attempt to present the Gospel to them when they really have the time to hear the whole message.

When Philip resisted the mother a second time, he gave her strong incentive in the future to turn down anyone approaching her personally about the Gospel since he showed a total disregard for her wishes and parental authority. She experienced nothing that should encourage her to do otherwise. Philip also put a false light on the message of Christianity. The end result is that not only did he turn her off to considering the Gospel but he grieved the Holy Spirit as well. It is not our responsibility to make sure a person hears the Gospel whether they want to or not and make sure they receive Jesus whether they want to or not, or make sure that a parent fulfills their responsibility to make sure their child hears the Gospel. Our responsibility is to share what it means to be a Christian and how to become one in love to someone who has willingly given us permission to do so. It is Jesusí responsibility to bring the person to the place of being willing to hear what you have to say and to positively respond to the message.

The Apostle Paul states that we are to preach the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Love in this context means respecting the freedom of choice of the individual as to whether he wants to hear the Gospel or not, or respecting the authority and wishes of a parent over their child.

HOW TO DEAL WITH
EXTERNAL OPPOSITION

I have shared the Gospel for thirty-four years and I can honestly tell you that in that time only a handful of times have I been hindered from sharing the Gospel through outside opposition. The bible is plain that we will be opposed in sharing the Gospel with men and as our society moves further and further away from God, that opposition will become stronger and stronger.

What I want to share with you here is how to deal with and respond to this opposition when it comes. What I am going to share is from personal experience and as a result of much prayer, what I believe has been the Lordís instruction to me on the matter.

Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his soul shall lose it; but whoever loses his soul for My sake shall find it." A year after I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord, my earthly father told me not to share the Gospel with my brothers in the home. I lived in his home. I told my father I could not make this promise, that if I did I would not be disobeying him but God. Two weeks later my younger brother asked me to talk with him about Jesus. I did. he prayed and received Christ. A week later my father asked me to make a choice between Christianity and the comforts of home. I moved out. If you want to bring men and women to Jesus, you must be willing to accept the consequences of doing so. Satan does not take lightly our pulling his subjects out of his kingdom and transferring them to Jesusí kingdom. He will do what he can to hurt you when you lead people to Jesus. I could not obey my Fatherís request to not share Jesus with my relatives, but I did have to submit to the consequences if I continued to do so.

I have found much fruitfulness in sharing the Gospel with people in indoor malls. They usually are sitting on benches or leaning against rails while waiting for their wives. They welcome any distraction. As a result I have led many men to Christ this way. I have only been opposed three times in 34 years by security while witnessing in indoor malls. What do You do when this happens? You are on private property, you handle it the same way you would handle knocking on someoneís door. You respect their wishes and leave if asked to do so. Wait a few months and try again. Security changes guards very quickly. I have done this and had no problem continuing sharing the Gospel.

What do you do if your boss tells you that you cannot share the Gospel with other employees? Assuming it is not because you are doing it on company time or in hindrance to your work, you tell him you cannot do that, that to do that would be to disobey the Lord, that you are not ashamed of Jesus or His gospel; then be willing to accept the consequences. I have lost many jobs over this issue. Jesus said, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38). Your allegiance is to Jesus first, your job second. Jesus is Your source, not your job. Lose the job or you will lose your soul. Read Matthew 16:24-27.

If you are opposed in public places such as parks or outdoor malls, be willing to accept the consequences of the opposition. If removed, go back later. Public Property is fair game.

Jesus said: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matt 10:16). What is Jesusí point? Unless the Lord, like in some of the cases of Paul in Acts, leads you to do otherwise, our objective is not to fight or argue with the opposition or to make a point but to share the love of Jesus Christ with men. You will have to deal with each situation individually as the Holy Spirit leads you. Once when opposed at an indoor mall, I simply turned and said to the security guard, "Sir, did you know that Jesus loves you and has wonderful plan for your life. . ." and proceeded to share the Gospel with him. The end result was that it disarmed and frustrated him and he left. Jesus said to love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you (Luke 6:20-38, Rom 12:17-21).

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question: What do I do when someone responds negatively to the presentation of the Gospel?

Answer: Respond in the following way, "Thank you anyway. May I leave a copy of this with you (Salvation Tract) to read on your own?" Ninety-eight percent of the time the person will say "Yes." You never want to try and force yourself on anyone. How you respond to a "No!" is just as much a witness of your faith as to what you say about your faith. Even though the person may say no, because you thanked him anyway and showed respect for the freedom of choice God gave Him, you will leave him with a good taste in his mouth. He will know that you respected his free will and this will do more to motivate him to hear the Gospel the next time someone approaches him. Also, because you considered his person and free will he will be more motivated to read the booklet you left him because it will have been his choice, not forced upon him. He will want to know what kind of beliefs you have that teaches you to respect and treat politely his wishes concerning your even trying to witness the Gospel to him.

Question: What do I do when someone is argumentative about religion?

Answer: You never want to argue with someone. First of all, you cannot reason with rebellion. People who are argumentative are not looking for answers. They are looking for excuses. They are simply trying to feed their egos and put you down. What you need to do is discern between what are legitimate hang-ups to the Gospel and just smoke screens to get you off track. This kind of discernment only comes about through repeated experience of sharing the Gospel on the field. If you discern that the statement the person is making is a genuine intellectual hang-up to their being able to release their faith in the Gospel, then certainly you want to take the time to answer their questions, but in love of course.

The way to tell whether a person is simply arguing with you and not really making inquiry of why we believe what we believe is how he initially responds to your answers. If the person argues with you no matter what you say, he is not looking for an answer but is just making excuses for rejecting the Gospel, not whether he believes it is true or not. If the personís inquiry is genuine, when you give him a legitimate answer, he will give a response of "Oh! I did not know that. Do you have any more information on this you could give me?" This is a person who has genuine things in his heart that are blocking him from releasing his faith. This is what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: when he comments about Strongholds of the mind. If a person has genuine hang-ups about the Gospel, he will not be able to release his faith until he finds the answers to his questions. But if the person just keeps arguing with you despite the facts, that person does not have genuine hang-ups about the Gospel, he has a willful moral problem. He does not want to believe no matter what the facts are.

This is one of the reasons I am sold on using a tool like the Salvation Tract, What Is Eternal Life? It gives you the ability to stay focused on Jesus and their need of Jesus and not get side tracked to other non-relevant issues that might be brought up to try and distract from the message of the Gospel. For example: I might have (and have had) the following conversation with someone:

Pastor Kruse (PK): Second, receiving Jesus as Lord means to repent of your sins. Paul wrote...

Potential Convert (PC): What about those who never hear the Gospel? Are you saying they are all going to Hell?

PK: Sir, I would really like to get your reaction to this little booklet. Let me finish the presentation and then I will be more than happy to take as much time as you like to answer any questions you have.

PC: Okay.

When I have given this response to a smoke screen, I have never had anyone say, "No! I want the answer now!" They always say "Okay" and when I get to the two different kinds of people, Self-Controlled and Christ-Controlled, when I ask them which person represents their life, I do not get an argument of "I do not believe in this stuff." I get without exception in this kind of case, the person on the left, the self-controlled life. In some of these cases I have seen the person say when asked which person he wants to represent his life, "The one on the right," (Christ-Controlled). We pray the sinners prayer together and the original questions that came up never come back up. In fact, I can recall very few situations where the questions did come back up at the end regardless of whether they responded positively to the Gospel or not. This is because it was not the issue in the first place. It was just a conscious or unconscious attempt to avoid the message at hand. It was not a matter of belief or an intellectual hang-up, but rather a Lordship problem. They are using what they think are legitimate questions to resist the Lordship of Jesus over their lives, not because they are hang-ups to their faith.

You must remember, we are not called to convince people that the message of the Gospel is true. Jesus has simply called us to share the message of the Gospel. When someone does ask a legitimate question, then yes certainly you want to do whatever you can to help them release their faith, but you never want to get caught into the trap of arguing. Our goal in Evangelism is to explain to a person what it means to be a Christian and how to become one and then leave how they respond to that message between them and God. Our goal is not to argue with them why we believe what we believe.

It is okay to reason out your faith with others if you choose to do so, but only after you have accomplished your goal in Evangelism which is to explain to the person what it means to be a Christian and how to become one. If you have accomplished that, you have planted a seed in their hearts that the Holy Spirit can now use successfully to bring the person to Jesus. This is because the Word of God is Spiritually-Alive!88 and Energetically-Effective!89 Godís Word is not just further knowledge that sits in oneís memory, but is Spiritually-Alive and able with the power of the Holy Spirit to bring a person to Salvation.

If after sharing the Gospel with the person, you want to debate with them and convince them of your superior intelligence, fine; but only after you have successfully shared with them what it means to be a Christian and how to receive its saving message and are sure they understand how. Once you have accomplished that,

though I am not encouraging you to argue, go ahead and reason with them as far as you feel you are being led to through the Holy Spirit. It is more important that you leave them with a good taste in their mouth about you and the Gospel than that you win an argument.

Chapter 9
Bibliography & Notes
Section 5 Chapters

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