Have you ever wondered what might happen if what we call “personal” evangelism ever became “interpersonal” instead of just”spur-of-the-moment” evangelism? First, let’s look at the impersonal methods that we use:
1. Event-based outreach. Let’s have a women’s tea, a VBS, or some similar activity. Then let’s put flyers on the doors in the surrounding neighborhood. Let’s get people in the door. We may or may not know them. Probably not. But they will hear a teacher or preacher proclaim the gospel.
2. Sunday morning. Invite your co-workers, especially when there is a revival event going on. Then they will hear a preacher proclaim the gospel.
3. Outsourced outreach. Let’s bring in some outside help for an annual event. They certainly don’t know anybody in our town or neighborhood, so nobody can complain about church hypocrisy.
4. Outsourced missions. We can always give some money to Campus Crusade to work on the campus and lead a few people to Christ. That way we can feel smug that somebody will come to Christ and that we’ve put our money where it needed to go.
These approaches are typical. And they are not contrary to any Biblical mandate or example. But they do not meed the criteria of being personal. We misrepresent our efforts if we think of them as being a direct outreach. Why? It seems that nobody wants to get personally engaged. But, what if, just what if, somebody actually want to do personal evangelism? What can we do that is personal? How do we put the personal back into personal evangelism?
Well, there are several things. Does your church have Bible studies? Dedicate a part of each year to bring in friends for an evangelistic study. Do you have friends (neighbors and co-workers) over for dinner? If not, start. And introduce them to the gospel and to opportunities for study. Do you work with people from other countries? Entertain them. Frequently. Build relationships. Engage them in Bible studies. Make the gospel clear. Do you have a house church system in place? Challenge them to be evangelistic and the participants to engage friends.
There is no personal evangelism if it is not actually personal. We will not get past our current stagnation until we get past the para-church and revivalist models current in place in most churches.