Personal evangelism is not one-size-fits-all.
The message is the same no matter the context, place, or time: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
But the method for communicating the message looks different. For example, Jesus’ mission was to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43). But He did personal evangelism differently depending on the context, time, and place. Study a few of the passages of Jesus’ evangelism methods from the book of Luke (the book we are preaching at Grace Community Bible Church):
- Galileans (Luke 4:14-30)
- Demon possessed man (Luke 4:31-37)
- Simon’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-41)
- Disciples (Luke 5:1-11)
- The Scribes (Luke 5:17-26)
- Tax collector (Luke 5:27-32)
- The Pharisees (Luke 6:6-11)
- Jesus’ mother and brethren (Luke 8:19-21)
- Demoniacs of Gadarenes (Luke 8:26-39)
- Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56)
- The wealthy (Luke 18:18-30)
- Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
- Herod (Luke 23:6-16)
Because the message is the same but the method will be different, I want to mention two implications for what this means for personal evangelism.
First, because our message does not change, we need to get clear on the message. The gospel message is not “love your neighbor as yourself,” “everyone gets to grow and change,” or “God, through Jesus, welcomes you anyhow.” John Stott accurately writes: “There is only one gospel, and in its essence it never changes.” We need to get clear on the gospel message.
Second, because our method does change, reliance on the Holy Spirit in personal evangelism is necessary. We need the Spirit to know what (and what not) to say, when (and when not) to say it, and how (and how not) to say it. We personally evangelize an atheist, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Jew, wealthy, poor, American, African, Asian, and South American all differently because of their context and background. We even use different approaches with the same person. For example, proofs for the existence of God might not resonate, but proofs for the resurrection might resonate. Because of the endless backgrounds and contexts of the individual, in all our personal evangelism, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit.
Our message—the message that God saves sinners—does not change. It never has and it never will. But our methods of communication will change in different contexts, places, and times. Personal evangelism is not one-size-fits-all.