On Methods and Evangelism

17 Oct

I recently had the opportunity to share the gospel at a ‘rap’ concert in the inner-city.


It is sweet to be able to talk about Jesus in any setting and I loved the fact that these guys were deliberately and actively going out of their way to set up opportunities to do that. It is rare to find people in the church who are going out of their way to share the gospel and I think that honestly stinks. But at the same time it did get me thinking a little about the methods we use to evangelize and how to evaluate those methods. Is everything appropriate so long as we are sharing the gospel? Or are there guidelines for evaluating what we do.

Someone pointed me to J.I. Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God as a resource and I found his section on this very subject helpful. I thought I could share a summary of what he writes with you.

On Methods and Evangelism

“I want to isolate the key principle that should guide us in our assessment both of these and any other methods of evangelism that may be practiced or proposed.”

In order to understand that principle, he tells us we need to first consider the following truths:

“1. There is only one means of evangelism: namely the gospel of Christ explained and applied.

2. There is only one agent of evangelism: namely the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christ Himself through His Holy Spirit enables His servants explain the gospel truly and apply it powerfully and effectively.

3. There is only one method of evangelism: namely the faithful explanation and application of the gospel message.

Therefore, the key test for any proposed strategy or technique or evangelistic action must be:

Will it serve the Word? Is it calculated to be a means of explaining the gospel truly and fully and applying it deeply and exactly? To the extent which it is so calculated it is lawful and right; to the extent to which it tends to overlay and obscure the realities of the message, and to blunt the edge of their application, it is ungodly and wrong.”

Now practically, how do we evaluate that?

He suggests asking the following questions:

“Is this way of presenting Christ calculated to impress on people that the gospel is a word from God? Does it exalt man or God?

Is this way of presenting Christ calculated to promote or impede the work of the word on men’s minds? Is it going to clarify the meaning of the message or to leave it enigmatic and obscure, locked up in pious jargon…? Is it going to make people think, and think hard about God and themselves and their relation to God? Or will it tend to stifle thought by playing exclusively on the emotions?

Is this way of presenting Christ calculated to convey to people the doctrine of the gospel…or is it likely to be deficient here, and deal in half-truths and leave people with an incomplete understanding of these things?

Is this way of presenting Christ calculated to convey gospel truth in a manner that is appropriately serious? Is it calculated to make people feel that they are indeed facing a matter of life and death? Is it calculated to make them see and feel the greatness of God, and the greatness of their sin and need, and the greatness of the grace of Christ?

It is a gross insult to God and a real disservice to men to cheapen and trivialize the gospel by one’s presentation of it. What is needed is this: that we who would speak for Christ should pray constantly that God will put and keep in our hearts a sense of His greatness and glory and of the joy of fellowship with Him, and of the dreadfulness of spending time and eternity without Him, and then that God will enable us to speak honestly, straightforwardly, and just as we feel about these matters. Then we shall be really natural in presenting the gospel – and serious too!”


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