Pastor J.D. talks about the nuances of cold-call evangelism and why evangelism is vital to the church today.

A glimpse inside today’s episode:

This is something very familiar to me. In the church where I grew up, Wednesday-afternoon soul-winning was your first act of sanctification! Not kidding. I got saved on a Friday and went on my first soul-winning cold-call that next Wednesday. 

For various reasons, most churches have gone away from that. 

  • Not as effective at making long-term disciples
  • People don’t respond any more to strangers.
  • Now, bad versions of cold-call evangelism can go terribly wrong, and can potentially even harm someone’s view of the church. 

But here’s the thing: it provided some great experience, and nothing has replaced it. 

  • Door-to-door evangelism was where I learned to share the gospel. Losing that with nothing to replace it has been a pretty significant loss. Are “ordinary” church members equipped to share the gospel? Are they actually doing it? Do they even see it as their responsibility anymore?

What can we do?

Find the Right Tools; If You’re a Pastor, Teach the Right Tools

A lot of people have plenty of drive to share their faith, but are lacking in practical guidance. On one level, it does not take much skill to describe your experience of salvation: “I was separated from God; Jesus saved me.” But there does come a point when instruction and training are a huge help. Having the right tools can greatly improve our confidence when we share Christ with others.

  • Conversation starters
  • Verses to use (I always start with Romans 6:23.)
  • Illustrations
  • Format: 3 Circles, Bridge
  • Asking the question at the end
  • Telling your story

Get good at it.

  • You need an elevator speech: Entrepreneurs have what they call an “elevator speech” for their product: even though they could talk for hours and hours about it, they force themselves to condense things down to a 45-second summary (roughly the length of a long elevator ride). We should have an “elevator speech” for our story too: 100 words or less that explain how Christ met our “felt” needs, which sets us up for a sharing of the gospel. It’s important, of course, that we remember that our story isn’t the same as the gospel. It’s just a response to the gospel and, in evangelism, provides an introduction for us to share the gospel.

Most importantly, stay in tune with the Spirit.

  • We don’t hear this nearly as much as we should. We don’t build the kingdom for God; we let God build it through us. That’s why the first command given to the apostles in Acts is to wait. Until the Spirit arrived, they could do nothing.
  • This is the only way to keep from being overwhelmed by the massive task of evangelism. God does not expect us to convert people; he invites us to walk with him and be his instrument as he builds the church. 
  • Pray it every day. Who’s life are you going to put me in the midst of? 

Sometimes he’ll provide a wide open door, other times not. Sometimes we open that door. 

  • Sometimes it doesn’t turn out well–that doesn’t mean it’s not of God. Honestly, only about 1 in every 5 of my attempts to have a spiritual conversation turns out well. But just because it turns out poorly does not mean that God is not in it. 
  • Stephen witnessed to Paul and was stoned, but that was definitely Spirit-filled evangelism!
  • I have heard that the average person has to hear the gospel 12 times before they believe. Sometimes I like to ask what number I am. We may get the joy of being that 12th person, or we may be one link in the chain. But the Spirit has a role for us.

How do you not get discouraged, though?

  • Imagine: Running a magnet over the sand. See what metal comes up.
  • A friend says: A true evangelist believes two things: Salvation belongs to God and faith comes only by hearing. The former takes the pressure off of you in all the right ways. The latter puts it on in all the right ways–it shows you your responsibility! How can they hear unless we preach?


The sponsor for this week’s episode:

For more than 25 years, Portable Church® has helped thousands of churches launch strong and thrive in a mobile setting. They design custom solutions that fit each budget, vision, and venue. Everything you need to launch a mobile church — an inviting worship space, kids ministry areas, welcome spaces, storage cases, etc — all in a system refined to make it fast, easy & fun for the weekly volunteer teams.