EVANGELISM, PRACTICAL GUIDES
The following resources offer practical suggestions and strategies for evangelism. Most are based on either hard research or exemplary practice in reaching people with the Gospel.
Although all these resources operate from a theological orientation, most do not articulate it. They assume readers who share their beliefs about salvation and evangelism are ready to engage, and describe the best methods and approaches. Those interested in theological reflection on evangelism, including missional and emergent perpsectives, may benefit from the guide on Theology and Practice of Evangelism.
The ministry resources are divided into the following categories:
- Effective Evangelistic Churches (Evangelical)
- Evangelism in Contemporary Culture, Special Challenges
- Evangelism Approaches, Missional
- Evangelism Approaches, Missionally Responsive/Evangelical
- Evangelism Approaches, Conversational/Relational Evangelism
- Evangelism Approaches, Service-Based Evangelism
- Evangelism Approaches, Event Evangelism
- Evangelism Approaches, Modern Classics
- Ministry Resources on Hospitality
- Related Areas
Effective Evangelistic Churches (Evangelical)
- Thom Rainer, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them — One of the most extensive research projects ever conducted on unchurched who become believers and the characteristics of the churches that reach them.
Other helpful works:
- Thom Rainer, Effective Evangelistic Churches: Successful Churches Reveal What Works and What Doesn’t — An older work based on a comprehensive survey of 576 churches in 41 states on the methodologies that were most effective instruments of evangelism.
- Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door: Understanding Faith Stages as Keys to Sharing Your Faith — Results from a set of interviews with a wide mosaic of unchurched persons. Discovered five “faith stages” or levels of responsiveness, uncovers ten surprises about the unchurched, and present a ten-point profile of the unchurched.
- Michael Green, Evangelism Through the Local Church – An exhaustive, encyclopedic volume on most methods individuals and local churches use to evangelize. Older but still useful.
- Patrick R. Keifert, Welcoming the Stranger: A Public Theology of Worship and Evangelism — Presents a missional understanding of the practice of hospitality in churches as it may contribute to evangelism.
Evangelism in Contemporary Culture, Special Challenges (See also Muliti-Generational Issues)
- Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, The Strange New Word of the Gospel: Re-Evangelizing in the Postmodern World – Offers a defense of the traditional church, and may add balance to current discussions.
- Jim Henderson and Matt Casper, Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation About Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians — The author hired an avowed atheist to join him in visiting several different types of churches. He interviewed him after each visit. The book is the interweaving of their perspectives.
- David A. Livermore, Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World – Draws from the field of cross-cultural studies to equip leaders in rural, urban, and suburban contexts for better cultural sensitivity.
- Terry Muck and Frances S. Adeney, Christianity Encountering World Religions: The Practice of Mission in the Twenty-first Century — Offers perspective on how to present Christianity in situations where there are many competing truth claims, both secular and religious.
- Tim Muehlhoff and Todd V. Lewis, Authentic Communication: Christian Speech Engaging Culture (Christian Worldview Integration) — An excellent guide to the complexities of communication in general, and communicating amid diversity in particular.
- Matthew Raley, The Diversity Culture: Creating Conversations of Faith with Buddhist Baristas, Agnostic Students, Aging Hippies, Political Activists, and Everyone in Between — A helpful guide to rethinking of political, socio-economic, and moral viewpoints to distinguish between what is inherently Christian and what is socially constructed.
- Miroslav Volf, A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good – Volf offers a theological perspective on how Christians may interact in a pluralistic society (religious, political, philosophical, ethnic, etc.) by civil discussion and cooperative action for the public good.
Evangelism Approaches, Missional (see definition)
- John Bowen, Evangelism for ‘Normal’ People: Good News for Those Looking for a Fresh Approach — A theologically responsible look at a relationally genuine “process evangelism” over “flasher evangelism,” based on keen awareness of postmodern realities.
- Elaine Heath, The Mystic Way of Evangelism: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach — Proposes evangelism based on the integration of love and holiness as exemplified in the ancient mystics.
- George G. Hunter, III, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again – Harkens back to the evangelism of Ireland and Scotland, as well as much of England and Europe, by the Celtic Christians during the Middle Ages, as an example of how to convert a pagan culture to Christ.
- George G. Hunter, III, Radical Outreach: Recovery of Apostolic Ministry and Evangelism — Builds on the Celtic Way of Evangelism, discussing the mission drift of churches in America and Western culture generally, and compares/contrasts this to the apostolic emphasis on evangelism.
- Martha Grace Reese, Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism, 2nd Edition – A well-researched and very popular approach to real life evangelism that has been used by over 12,000 churches, predominately mainline Protestants. There are several companion volumes to help churches activate the model.
Evangelism Approaches, Missionally Responsive/Evangelical (see definition)
- Bill Hybels and Mark Mittleberg, Becoming a Contagious Christian — The first book in an entire series of resources under the same banner produced by Willow Creek Association. An approach to evangelism that blends both authentic relationship (dialogue), overcoming barriers to belief (defense), and clear communication of the gospel (declaration).
- Bill Hybels, Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith – A follow-up to Contagious Christian, emphasizing the conversational aspect of evangelism.
Other helpful volumes:
- Shawn Anderson, Living Dangerously: Seven Keys to Intentional Discipleship – Discusses the results of a very extensive research project on the seven most important characteristics found in those who are effective at helping others follow Jesus.
- Jerram Barrs, The Heart of Evangelism — A deeply evangelical meditative reflection on the work of evangelism.
- Jerram Barrs, Learning Evangelism from Jesus — A sequel to The Heart of Evangelism, looking at how Jesus did evangelism through his diverse encounters with people.
- Scott Dawson, Editor, The Complete Evangelism Guidebook: Expert Advice on Reaching Others for Christ – A very thorough collection of essays from over 50 authors addressing all aspects of evangelism, from fine-tuning your testimony to what to do when you do not have the answers.
- Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism — Dever conveys a passionate, humble, authentic zeal for evangelism and an undying commitment to engage this in a manner that is unashamedly biblical. Strongly influenced by Metzger, To Tell The Truth.
- Dave Early and Dave Wheeler, Evangelism Is: How To Share Jesus With Passion and Confidence — Two strongly evangelical authors with a combined 60 years of personal evangelism experience offer 40 brief chapters designed to increase one’s passion and confidence in sharing Jesus.
- Michael Green, Sharing Your Faith With Friends and Family: Talking about Jesus Without Offending – Green becomes very practical in addressing how to have evangelistic conversations with those we are especially close to.
- Will Metzger, Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by the Whole People. Revised and Expanded – Metzger a biblically conservative view of evangelism with an aim toward others’ conversion as the Gospel confronts one’s sin and separation from God, leading to a clear decision of faith and repentance.
- Stephen Pate and Gene Wilkes, Evangelism Where You Live: Engaging Your Community (TCP Leadership Series) – A guide to equipping people to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in their network of relationships in the marketplace and neighborhoods.
- Lynn Anderson, The Jesus Touch: Learning the Art of Relationship from the Master — Not a book on evangelism per se, yet beautifully shows how Jesus, in his encounters with people, was available, sensitive, helpful, and creative. Anderson uses his informed intuition and gifted imagination to tell the “back-story” of several persons from the Gospel of John, allowing us to live in their shoes before, during, and after their experience with Jesus.
- Tom Clegg and Warren Bird, Missing in America: Making an Eternal Difference in the World Next Door — Trains one to engage evangelism not primarily as something one “does,” but something that happens quite naturally when Christians live authentically and genuinely assist their friends on their spiritual journey.
- Norman Geisler and David Geisler, Conversational Evangelism: How to Listen and Speak So You Can Be Heard – A strongly evangelical approach to evangelism that seeks to equip people to conduct non-threatening conversations that function as “pre-evangelism.” Closely tied to classical apologetics.
- Jim Henderson, Evangelism Without Additives: What If Sharing Your Faith Meant Just Being Yourself? — Over against bold, proclamation-based witnessing, the author presents an approach called “Ordinary Attempts,” the small attempts to connect with people in ways that were natural and had context in our ordinary, everyday lives.
- Jeffrey A. Johnson, Got Style?: Personality-Based Evangelism — Does a masterful job in categorizing evangelistic methods under the personalities that are most likely to implement them (or not).
- J. P. Moreland, Tim Muelhoff, and Lee Strobel, The God Conversation: Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith – Advocates the use of stories and illustrations as a ways of dealing with tough questions skeptics pose to evangelists.
- Randy Newman, Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did — Emphasizes the skill of giving and taking — asking questions and bouncing ideas back and forth, primarily as a means of breaking down defenses in the process of evangelism. Newman also authored the companion volume, Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues About God and Life.
- Richard Peace, Holy Conversation: Talking About God in Everyday Life, Twelve Sessions for Small Groups – A twelve-session primer on evangelism designed to be used in weekly small groups where participants talk about the gospel in natural, informal, conversational ways.
- Michael L. Simpson, Permission Evangelism: When to Talk, When to Walk – The premise of this book is that evangelistic conversations are often best conducted when they come a as a result of permission from the listener.
- Avery T. Willis and Mark Snowden, Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate the Velcro Truth in a Teflon World — Encourages the use of Bible stories, dialogue, drama, and songs.
- See the section in Social Ministry-Social Justice that discusses the service-based approaches by Steve Sjogren, Lewis/Wilkins, David Crocker and others.
Evangelism Approaches, Event Evangelism
- Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson, Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church – Provides philosophy, motivation, and testimony concerning his method of “Big Day” evangelism. This operates from an attractional, church-growth perspective, and an “event” understanding of conversion where people make decisions for Christ relatively quickly followed by deeper levels of discipleship.
Evangelism Approaches, Modern Classics
- Joseph C Aldrich, Life-Style Evangelism: Learning to Open Your Life to Those Around You -Especially helpful in describing how to break down relational barriers that make evangelism difficult.
- Win Arn and Charles Arn, The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples— Suggests a church-related plan for evangelism through small groups and capitalizing on each person’s web of relationships.
- Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism. Also, The Heart of The Gospel: The Theology Behind the Master Plan of Evangelism — Describes an eight-stage process of evangelism rooted in the relationship between Jesus and the twelve. The Heart of the Gospel conveys Coleman’s theological basis.
- Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World, Revised and Expanded — Suggests the best way for us to be the presence of Christ in evangelism is through a conversational style. Proposes three models.
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, True Evangelism: Winning Souls through Prayer — A classic volume from the turn of the 20th century that is very strong on the role of intercessory prayer in conversion.
- J. Mack Stiles, Speaking of Jesus: How to Tell Your Friends the Best News They Will Ever Hear – Looks at how Jesus and Paul engaged their worlds, and draws implications. Provides numerous examples of conversational evangelism and a code of ethics for Christian witness.
- J. Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living, and Speaking the Gospel — A more recent follow-up to Speaking of Jesus, conveying the basic ideas that make up healthy evangelism.
Ministry Resources on Hospitality
There is a growing interest among Christian communities to recover the biblical teaching on hospitality. This is a helpful study for both Evangelism as well as Church Welcome, Greeting. Below is a first of several resources to be listed in this section.
- Henry Brinton, The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality — A good resource on practical and creative ways to express hospitality, including the author’s studies on exemplary congregations in the U.S. and abroad.
Related Ministry Resources
See Other Ministry Resources on Evangelism:
See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry: