June/July 2013 - Vol. 68
Person to Person: A practical approach to effective evangelism

Part 2: Everyday Evangelism
by Jim Berlucchi

Over the last ten years, I have heard the conversion stories of many who have become Christians. I remember Barb’s account of how she knelt next to her television one evening and surrendered her life to Christ in response to a eloquent appeal. A Billy Graham rally was the occasion for a childhood conversion of a very dedicated Methodist minister friend of mine. For a number of years I led music at large Catholic rallies (F.I.R.E – Faith, Intercession, Repentance, Evangelism). These dynamic events occasioned multiple conversions and re-conversions, prompting fallen away Catholics to renew their faith.

Different methods of evangelism
These stories illustrate what has come to be known as “mass evangelism.” Here we are talking about large group exposure to the gospel through some form of public preaching. God has worked mightily in such settings, and many people have come, or returned to faith through them.

Another form of evangelism is called random evangelism. This is a kind of spontaneous sharing of one’s faith by confident and opportunity-seeking Christians of all stripes.  The spontaneity isn’t without preparation and training however.  There are evangelistic training seminars that equip people to be ready to defend and advance the faith, and to be on the lookout for every opportunity. “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you (I Peter 3:15).

A Christian who engages in random evangelism is often praying and prepared to share the gospel at any time and circumstance, whether it be a locker room or on a plane flight. I know of a Catholic deacon who boldly shares his faith in his basketball league. He makes sure his game is sharp by the way.

The Holy Spirit sometimes orchestrates circumstances for dramatic results. I was once waiting for bus – minding my own business. Strangely I began to feel an intense conviction that I was to talk to some fellow passenger about God’s love. The sense was so strong I felt I would burst if I resisted. I sat next to an elderly man and tried to strike up a conversation. Within minutes we were discussing spiritual matters. He seemed down. I encouraged him, told him I’d pray for him and gave him my phone number.

 Later that evening he called and left a startling message. That bus ride was to be his last. He was heading home determined to take his life. Our brief conversation convinced him that God was looking out for him. How could I possibly have known? That experience taught me never to undervalue random evangelism, especially when we are being led by the God who knows the secret intentions of every heart.

Everyday evangelism
Another kind of evangelism is what I call everyday evangelism. Everyday evangelism involves influencing others toward the kingdom of God in our daily environments. Normally the process is most effective in situations where we have ongoing relationships with friends, neighbors, co-workers, relatives, or fellow students.

Everyday evangelism is, well, kind of ordinary. One need not be particularly persuasive, articulate or charismatic. Often, the most effective witnesses are recently converted or renewed Christians whose enthusiasm makes up for lack of technical know-how.

Importance of personal relationships
At the heart of everyday evangelism is the recognition of the importance of personal relationships in any kind of conversion process. Few people become dedicated Christians simply by hearing an inspiring message. Few converts are won solely through the distribution of tracts or by watching Christian television. In fact, most people respond favorably to the Good News through the personal influence of other Christians. And the process takes place in the most modest and ordinary circumstances of daily life.

This kind of evangelism effectively led me back to the faith I neglected and then discarded during my ‘enlightened’ college years. I became not only unbelieving, but cynical about religion, thinking it naïve and unsophisticated. Despite my ignorance I still enjoyed arguing with the very few Bible believers in my dormitory hall. I had very little tolerance for religious types and was cynical about Christianity in particular. Not a good prospect.

But thanks to the persistent, yet tactful witness of some fellow dorm buddies my faith was renewed. One of these students, Leo, seemed able to convert the unlikeliest prospects. The rest of us couldn’t help but notice the positive changes in their lives. And these new converts were quite unabashed in sharing their newly found faith. And whether or not they knew it, the few Christian men living in that university dormitory were under close scrutiny by their fellow students.

Because Leo had been forthright and open about his love for God others took particular notice to see if his behavior matched his beliefs. Though I disagreed with his religious convictions, I respected the sincerity of his convictions. I also expected him to conduct his life with integrity, and I wasn’t disappointed.

He had a lot of good qualities. Unlike the rest of us, his life was well ordered and disciplined. His room was neat; he kept a consistent schedule; he was hard working and cheerful. And he was really joyful. His steady happiness was particularly striking.

He wasn’t just wrapped up in his own world, but was generous, even charitable. One night a guest visited me from out of state. When Leo heard of his arrival, he hauled his mattress into my room to accommodate my visiting buddy. To this day, I can remember the impact that selfless gesture had on me.

His speech was different too. No foul talk. He never criticized or griped. He was patient, sincerely interested in people and always ready to lend a hand.

At the same time he was a bulldog in sharing his faith and it was really pretty infections. We all knew he prayed for us. He would share with enthusiasm how the Lord was working in his life and helping him. Whenever he returned from church or a prayer service he would fill everyone in on the message. More than that, he kept inviting everyone to come along.

Being the aroma of Christ for others
Over the course of eight months, four of the young men in this particular hall seriously committed their lives to Jesus. They had a great influence on the rest of us. Most of them couldn’t hold their own in a theological debate. They were motivated simply to pray and pursue. The witness of their lives was indeed credible to their unbelieving acquaintances. They were the aroma of Christ to us – fragrantly drawing us to consider the message of their Master. Their genuineness, tact, and personal credibility carried great weight. In the non-religious atmosphere of our dorm rooms, cafeteria, and lounges they were able, grace-filled ambassadors.

This example shows how effective personal, everyday evangelism can be. It doesn’t require years of theological training and expertise. You and I can do it. As you implement principles of personal evangelism outlined in the next chapters, you will be increasingly able to help lead men and women further into the kingdom of God.

[This article is adapted from the book, Person to Person: How to be effective in evangelism, © 1984 by Jim Berlucchi, and published by Servants Books, Ann Arbor.]

Return to > Part 1: True “No Limit” Message
Jim Berlucchi is the Executive Director at Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership. He formerly served as the Executive Director of Legatus, an international association of Catholic CEOs. He is the work/life columnist for Faith Magazine, and a published composer and recording artist. Sample audio clips of his music are available online. He served for many years as a community leader in The Word of God and The Sword of the Spirit. He and his wife Judy reside in Dexter, Michigan, USA. They are the grateful parents of eight children and enjoy a steadily increasing number of grandchildren. 
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